Synchronous vs. Asynchronous
Hybrid vs. on Campus
Fast vs. Effective
The answer always depends on who you ask.
Much of the EdTech commentary seems to be stuck in the binary, trying to analyze if the best solutions are this or that. However, by seeing only either/or options we are limiting the conversation, and as a result, the potential solutions. In reality, as we explore and adapt to the options that the pandemic expedited, we are called to move away from our typical classifications and embrace the ‘both/and’.
The recent Wiley report, Voice of the Online Learner (2022), highlighted this conundrum as it drew out the opinions of students across various categories and options. What was striking was that there were few instances where there was a clear winner in terms of student preferences for studying. Typically, there were some students who preferred synchronous delivery compared to some students who wanted asynchronous options. There was a cohort who favored hybrid and those who leaned towards campus-based education. There were some students who wanted shorter and faster education vs. those who wanted more in-depth content.
The trend was also highlighted in the ‘Changing Landscape of Online Education (Chloe 7) report, produced by Quality Matters, where student preference proved variable and not binary, emphasizing the need to be flexible and accommodate various student life stages and motivations for studying.
Similarly, we must look at the perceptions of the false binary choice between perceived quality education and development time. A key challenge is that highly effective and satisfying online and hybrid solutions take time and careful learning design choices, which typically requires more time to develop.
Existing higher education institutions have challenges balancing these needs. As Chloe 7 highlights, institutional capacity does not necessarily extend to making the most of the potential that online education has to offer and that ‘third-party design templates, simulation development, and full-course build services can usefully augment faculty and other in-house capabilities.’ Third parties such as Construct Education offer universities a way to expedite the move to online and hybrid solutions without having to build internal capacity. Our design and development of fully online solutions for leading universities across North America are earning favorable ratings and high satisfaction levels from both students and faculty. In addition, with our large team of professionals dedicated to course development, we can more easily find a balance between the need for exceptionally high standards developed in an expedited way.
The bottom line is, that when we think about solutions and opportunities, we need to be more comfortable in the gray areas. We need to stop making assumptions about students and their preferences, and instead listen to their needs and provide more options for people’s life circumstances.
These shifts and changes make the EdTech industry a fascinating sector, and I look forward to how the industry adapts to both the rapidly changing student and financial realities.