This article originally appeared on The Conversation website.
In response to the novel coronavirus, many South Korean universities have moved their teaching online. Students are still provided with the required number of class hours but without face-to-face contact with teachers.
The ministry of education in the United Arab Emirates has announced that university teaching will move online. In Italy, the government has ordered the closure of all universities until March 15. Italian universities, too, are switching to online teaching.
This global shift to online learning follows the example set by universities in China, where the outbreak first began. Such rapid global adoption of online education is astonishing. As a researcher working on the use of online learning in higher education, I have often felt frustrated with the slow pace of change.
Carefully implemented, online learning can make university education more accessible, affordable, interactive and student-centred. However, the way that it is being presented as a simple and practical solution, capable of replacing face-to-face teaching for a significant period, is misleading.
Time to Prepare
Online education is a complex endeavour. It is important to set realistic understandings and expectations of how it can support students affected by coronavirus measures. This is especially the case for universities that disregarded online education before the coronavirus outbreak.
Both academics and students may lack the training needed for quality online learning. Normally, developing online courses involves a team of experts including academics, instructional designers, programmers and illustrators. The team will collectively follow systematic design processes. Yet in this quick transition, academics who have never taught online will be offering courses that have not been devised in this way.