Educational institutions are facing a serious dilemma in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of late April 2020, there were more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures, according to the World Economic Forum and UNESCO data.
Keeping in mind the safety of students and staff, many institutions have already taken or are considering taking classes online via e-learning and remote learning delivery. While this ensures continuity for both their business and the students’ education, there is still some uncertainty about the impact of remote learning. Parents of students want to be assured that the quality of education will not be negatively affected and that it will continue to justify the tuition fees. Schools, universities and other education providers are therefore under pressure to ensure that the shift to remote learning will be seamless.
4 Challenges of Online Education
As an education provider you need to ensure that remote learning can efficiently replicate the face-to-face learning experience. To achieve this, you will need to overcome some key challenges.
Making on-campus computer resources available to students and faculty at home
An important component of delivering an effective remote learning program and justifying student fees is enabling students to access on-site computer resources just like they would during in-classroom learning.
Students need access to software applications like those for programming, 3D designing, video-editing, and much more for their coursework. It is not feasible for institutions to provide individual software licenses for students, and not all students have powerful computers at home to run the desktop apps like Adobe and Autodesk.
Just like students, your faculty also need to work from home. They will therefore need to be able to log into on-campus computers remotely, set up lab computers, share lesson files, check students' submissions and interact with them.
While VPNs may seem like an easy and secure option at first, they can be expensive to set up, maintain and scale and can also cause lag issues.
Enabling IT teams to support and troubleshoot given the increased complexity
Keeping students engaged and attentive is a challenge even in face-to-face learning. In a remote setting, this can be further exacerbated when there are technical issues. Problems with video streaming, software crash on lab computers, file transfer issues, training, and others can disrupt the smooth running of a class. Troubleshooting these issues will require your IT teams to access the broad range of student and faculty devices as well as school computers remotely.
Protecting proprietary learning material
When you distribute your courses online, there is also the danger of these materials being leaked outside of authorized users. For example, lecture notes, exercises and answers to tutorial questions shared with students can be downloaded or forwarded to non-paid users. Even worse, they could be leaked to competitors who could use it to conduct their own courses. When you spend thousands of hours developing these materials, such leakage can erode your revenue, harm your reputation and competitive positioning.
Tracking student engagement and monitoring online exams
In face-to-face learning, it is easier to know which students are engaged and interacting with the learning material. But when everyone is logging into classes remotely, it can be hard for your teachers to keep students interested and check if they are following the course content. You will have no way of knowing whether students really read your lecture notes or watched your videos. And by the time you grade their tutorials or exams, you will have lost valuable time to motivate them and their confidence may have taken a hit as well.
Even monitoring the exams can be a challenge, with students finding more and more ingenious ways to cheat in online exams these days. It is up to you to verify their identity, ensure everyone has the same allotted time to finish the exam and to prevent leakage of confidential exam questions. Failing to do any of these can diminish the quality of your courses and the reputation of your institution.
Remote Learning Resources to Solve Online Education Challenges
While there are a number of free remote learning resources for distributing lectures, like video conferencing and hosting tools, these alone are not enough. You also need a way to allow faculty to deliver other modes of learning remotely, including labs and hands-on use of relevant licensed software.
Splashtop Remote Access for Educational Institutions
Splashtop provides secure remote access and remote support solutions for educational institutions to solve these challenges. Students can access Windows and Mac lab computers from any device, and from anywhere. They can use laptops, Chromebooks and any device at home and remotely control lab computers to access resource-intensive software applications with high performance features, as if they were sitting in front of the lab computers. Faculty can also access school computers from their homes, transfer files, view multiple monitors and start chats with students.
Splashtop also solves the remote access challenges for your IT teams in providing support and troubleshooting with its secure remote support solutions. These allow IT admins to resolve technical issues on students’ and teachers’ computers and mobile devices instantly so they can resume their classes immediately.
Digify Document Security to Protect Proprietary Learning Material
Meanwhile, educational institutions can use Digify to protect their course content and confidential exam questions from leaking. Digify provides document security and protection for your course materials by restricting access to only paid students. You can also set the access to these materials to expire once the course and its exams are concluded. This prevents non-paid students from accessing the content and from competitors taking your intellectual property to use it for their own gains. This helps you monetize your content more effectively, as RTD Learning found out when they used Digify to protect their course materials from unauthorized sharing.
Digify also gives you an effective way to track students’ engagement with your course content. Through its document security and data room solutions, Digify lets your faculty and teachers track which students access the material, when and for long, allowing you to divert teaching resources accordingly for personalized support. It also can be a cheap and easy alternative to online proctored exams, especially when used in combination with email and webcam based monitoring.
Educational institutions adapting to the challenge of remote learning will face financial and technology challenges for sure. But with the help of remote access solutions like Splashtop and document security solutions like Digify, you can not only survive but adapt and grow your business.
Protect your proprietary learning content today. Start a Digify trial.