Whilst historically there has been a generational divide between the oft technology-shy older Australians and younger Aussies born into the information age, the divide is quickly shrinking with increasing uptake and engagement of smart phones, social media and the Internet more broadly.
The COVID-era has accelerated the mindset shift, when staying in contact meant a FaceTime or Zoom call, and the necessity to ‘check-in’ has made it near impossible to go about day-to-day life without a camera in hand to scan a QR code.
Practically everyone – from students, to workers, to retirees – have in some way adapted more to online mediums in the last year.
This shift had a particularly transformative and profound impact on workplaces. Leaders who may have been reluctant to implement certain technologies in their business were forced to embrace online technology to keep operations running and, in many cases, realised the ease, reliability and cost-saving potential of online collaboration tools.
The integration of technology into business operations and the end-user experience was not new to the team at Online Education Services, however. For ten years, digital innovation has been at our core, leveraging technology at our fingertips to transform the student experience – a story we set about telling last year through our innovation series.
What was new for us in 2020 was the unprecedented focus the pandemic put on online learning, from the sector, broader industry, government and the media.
In response to a suggested over-reliance of universities on international student revenue, the Federal Government’s newly appointed Education Minister, Alan Tudge called for universities to expand online course offerings to target new markets of international students.
Industry experts encouraged an embracing of the pandemic as an inflection point or a ‘cause for pause’ and recommended seizing the moment to be proactive in considering the future of higher education.
And, as most will agree, the media kept a sharp eye on the plight of students and their individual experiences.
It was an opportunity for OES to lead the way in showcasing the sense of community and collaboration that can exist in online study, and the accessibility of online study, irrespective of age, location or Covid-restrictions. It also generated the demand to innovate new solutions for a blend of campus experiences with online learning, crafting a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ model for students and staff alike.
OES was quick to identify the changing requirements of staff and students, and through the use of smart user-centred design and new technologies, has what it takes to help students embrace study in this new world. From tailored support for those requiring an extra helping hand navigating technology, to strategic partnerships with leading technology providers to create a collaborative learning experience, we know online education.
As life turns to the new normal, OES will continue to help universities take full advantage of the digital mindset shift to attract young, senior, and international students by exploring a blended offering which bridges the traditional on-campus and online formats.
The journey has only just begun and as our world becomes increasingly digitised, technological advances are rapidly providing new opportunities to change how universities can support students and increase the accessibility of higher education to more people.
Building on the innovation series, this year we will continue to share our insights with you as we innovate and reimagine online learning.