In March 2020, the world shut down and we were forced to revisit how we do basically everything. In many places, especially cities, basic things like going for a walk and going out for dinner were suddenly off limits and many were confined to their homes. But for everyone around the world, education underwent a huge transformation. Over the course of basically a weekend, students and teachers were forced to move to completely remote learning, a significant change for many.
Of course, remote courses existed before March 2020. But just as remote work has become more acceptable and common post-pandemic, so has remote learning, with many benefitting from the changes it brings. However, as with anything, there are many challenges associated with remote learning that came to light quickly in the spring of 2020.
In tech specifically, remote learning is a common option for bootcamps that are looking to expand their offerings to new geographic locations or include groups of people that were previously excluded from the industry, due to the inability to attend in-person classes. And although there were some online offerings pre-pandemic, we learned a lot during the months and months of remote learning that has transformed how we offer classes today.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important things we learned in 2020 and how they’ve shaped the remote learning of today.
Remote Learning Lessons from 2020
2020 was full of unexpected challenges and we’d like to think we handled it well, expanding out remote options and recognizing the importance of online learning. But along the way, we learned the following lessons:
Remote learning isn’t just in-person learning moved to a Zoom meeting: remote courses need to be designed differently than in-person classes; the same method of group work, pairing up with a partner, or having an interactive classroom-wide discussion won’t work through a video call and can leave some students feeling left out or unengaged. Remote courses need to keep this in mind and adjust curriculum accordingly, ensuring that students have the resources they need in a productive manner.
Remote learning emphasizes the digital divide: anyone could take an online coding course from the comfort of their own home, right? You may be tempted to assume that yes, they could, but the reality is a bit different: in order to properly follow the lesson and be active in a remote learning environment, students need a quality computer, a strong internet connection, and surroundings that promote learning (quiet, free of distractions).
Remote learning highlights inequalities: just as some students may not have the money to purchase the necessary equipment for an online course, others may not be comfortable with their camera on in their homes or have a space dedicated to learning as they would at school. In addition, some students may struggle with housemates or family members not seeing their learning time as legitimate and be asked to take on other responsibilities.
On the other hand, remote classes, especially in the tech industry, have had a positive impact on other aspects of learning:
Remote learning removes barriers to entry: for many, the idea of attending classes in-person is not a reality. Why? The class they may want to take or can afford could be located halfway around the world or they could have childcare or other responsibilities, such as a job they rely on, and can’t commit to attending in-person classes. Remote learning, when implemented correctly, breaks down these barriers and makes tech education accessible for more people.
Remote learning is more inclusive: students with social anxiety or disabilities may feel uncomfortable in the classroom where they’re forced to interact with others regularly; remote learning brings a sense of privacy and anonymity that some students need to thrive. Those with physical disabilities may also be unable to access most classrooms.
Remote learning is more affordable: from not having to worry about what you’ll wear to school to making lunch at home, remote learning provides cost-saving opportunities all across the board, which makes it more accessible to groups.
Remote Learning in Tech
As we move forward (and hopefully leave pandemics behind us!), we need to appreciate and use remote learning as much as possible. However, this also includes ensuring that remote classes are an option for everyone, and not just those who can afford a fancy home office. To ensure that remote learning is expanding the reach of tech and not limiting it, we can follow these steps:
Come at remote learning from an inclusive point of view: generally speaking, remote courses should offer the exact same knowledge and opportunities as in-person classes, just adjusted for the specific circumstances. For example, if students taking an in-person bootcamp would have the chance to use institution-owned computers, remote courses should offer assistance when it comes to ensuring all students have the materials they need to succeed.
Take advantage of the qualities unique to remote education: remote learning brings an entirely new set of advantages to learning; make sure these are at the forefront of your lesson planning and expand upon things like students coming from different backgrounds/locations and sharing their diverse experiences can enrich the learning experience and is something that would be rare in other, in-person learning environments.
Ensure in-person and remote learning options are comparable: asking institutions to create identical programs for remote and in-person courses would go against everything we’ve outlined in this article and we don’t think it’s the best way to ensure students get a quality education. Instead, make sure that the offerings are the same between the two, with the necessary adjustments so that it’s tailored specifically to what will most help students succeed.
The 2020 pandemic showed us that remote learning is a possibility and one that opens the door to many things we never thought possible. But to ensure that remote learning is as effective as in-person learning and inclusive as possible, we need to take the proper steps to carefully and meticulously design the curriculum.
At Ironhack, we boast remote courses in all of our bootcamps, designed specifically to make tech education accessible to absolutely everyone, everywhere. If you’re interested in harnessing the power of remote learning and taking the first steps to getting started in tech, you’re in the right place.
Check out our bootcamps in web development, UX/UI design, data analytics, and cybersecurity and let remote learning lead you to the beginning of your tech career.