2020 was an exceptional year, a year nobody could have predicted. Let’s be honest 2021 has not started amazingly but hey, it has not been all negative. Some of the positives that can be taken from this past year are around technology and how much organisations, companies, universities etc. have embraced online learning technology. Yes, so they have been forced to do so due to what has been happening in the world. Despite being forced to do so, we believe there are some positives to take from all of this.
Online (or remote) learning has been the reality of higher education in 2020.
If we were to neatly summarise in one chart the seismic shifts that have occurred in higher education over the past year, it might look something like figure 1, which displays the almost complete inversion in the availability of courses to students online since last year. The information is taken from a poll carried out on 212 people representing US universities. While the vast majority of respondents estimated that very few of their courses were available to students online in the autumn of 2019, this completely changed for autumn 2020.
Figure 1. Proportion of courses available online, Autumn 2019 and Autumn 2020
In recent years, many learners have realised that being physically present in a classroom is no longer the only (or best) learning option for everyone. With modern technology, learners now have access to a quality learning experience whenever and wherever they want, as long as they have access to a computer and broadband internet. In 2021 and beyond, online learning will continue to grow and become a leading approach to delivering learning experiences.
Remember when Monday mornings involved sitting in traffic or taking busy public transport to work?
While those of us lucky to be working are now doing so from a spare bedroom or a kitchen table, the Coronavirus has forced a sudden and mostly successful pivot to working away from the office. While the circumstances are unwelcome, there are some benefits to this style of working.
You have a more content workforce, a more motivated workforce, and also a more productive and efficient workforce as well. So when the Coronavirus is behind us, will our workday ever be the same again? We spend a lot of our time travelling to work and for most, the commute to work is getting longer and longer all over the world.
Globally, two-fifths of professionals consider the commute to be the worst part of their day. Commuting has been found to be a major cause for stress that impacts on our physiological health and well-being. The total working day gets longer, you get less time at home, you do less exercises when you have long commutes and you also cook less healthy food.
In a study by Erika Sandow at Umeå University, Swedish couples were followed over a 10-year period, and it was found that commuting long distances to work over one hour increases the risk of separation. Overall, it results in a 40% increase of risk of separating.
Before the pandemic, approximately 25 million U.S. workers spent more than 90 minutes getting to and from their jobs every day. In South Korea, one in four workers has a journey that long. One of those people is Park Jong Han, a manager at a major telecoms company. “Basically, I throw away three hours of my daytime just to get to work and to come back home.”
Since February, SK Telecom has instructed its employees, including Jong Han, to work from home, or if suitable, to work from smaller, local offices in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Seoul.
“One of the mobile offices, if I walk, it takes about 15 minutes. I truly appreciate the time, and it actually comes back to motivation to work harder. It's not just time, it's very quality time that I spend instead of you know, getting stuck in a bus, stuck in traffic somewhere, you cannot compare. The amount of time that I spent with my family really increased, you know? During lunchtime, I can have lunchtime with my son.”
The ability to be able to have lunch with your children. Now that is such a positive thing! This author has lived in cities with populations of 6 million people and personally speaking, less time spent in rush hour traffic can only be a good thing. Stay safe everyone!