Since the first UK Covid-19 lockdown began in March, online study has really taken off. We caught up with Online Programmes Director for The University of Law Business School Konstantinos Samiotis to discuss how The Business School has provided online teaching to their students and the benefits of digital learning.
Years ago, I studied an online programme which gave me the worst impressions of online education. Since then, I have committed myself to improving online students’ learning experience. It’s now a whole new world.
My involvement in online education dates back to 2010. I had a long engagement with Laureate International Universities both as online faculty but also as academic manager and director for the online business and management programmes for its UK partner institutions such as the University of Liverpool and the University of Roehampton, London. Later, I worked for the Open University which immersed me in the intricacies of educational inclusion while enabling me to offer my expertise in the success of the MSc in human resource management, the development of the new online MBA and the use of massive online open courses (MOOCs) for degree-learning purposes.
My days tend to be particularly busy at the moment as online education has become more important than ever before for both institutions and students. I tend to share my time between ensuring our students get the best online learning experience due to having to move all face to face teaching online because of the Covid-19 outbreak and planning and developing the business school online programmes portfolio to be launched in September and beyond.
The pandemic has changed everyone’s role and life. My role has been particularly important these days as I needed to transform several aspects of face to face learning and teaching to online. This included helping campus staff and students familiarise themselves with online learning platforms but mainly with online teaching practices. I have also enjoyed supporting the University’s business continuity plans. The pressure of Covid-19 has also been an opportunity to rethink learners’ needs and adapt fast to meet contemporary leaning demands.
We have seen the effects of the Covid-19 situation on learners’ preferences. We have evidence that people continue to seek learning opportunities that could fit their life context and pace. On top of that, we see new categories of learning audiences emerging as a result of economic, environmental and societal transformations.
Using the available technological infrastructure, the ULaw Business School set up online spaces where classes could be delivered without affecting students’ learning experience. We provide all the requisite induction to the online teaching environment and its tools.
Online education has been steadily becoming more and more popular among learners even before the pandemic. Learners opted to study online because it gave them an opportunity to study in places and with institutions they never imagined they would but also to study subject matters they have never thought of. However, the most important driver for choosing online studies has been flexibility and convenience. Learners could choose the pace of learning, adapt it to their own lifestyle and commitments, receive it in their own space and without having to abandon or pause any of their income-generating activities.
Online study allows students to plan their study around their commitments. Its strongest benefit is that students do not need to interrupt their careers while it offers them opportunities to reflect on their practices and their effectiveness. Online study also offers opportunities to integrate modern lifestyles with learning environments, for instance learning through their smartphones, interacting using social media. Online study tends to create stronger inquiry skills as engagement with learning materials and activities are continuous.
I have heard many students’ stories during my online education career. The first time experience of learning online is always critical for the formation of the final impression. During the first time, online students tend to have to cope with several challenges; time management, academic skills etc. The initial frustration quickly turns to confidence to cope with autonomous and self-paced learning. Students feel grateful of the acquired skills and how they can apply them beyond their online study.
Our students’ welfare is our biggest concern during this time. We keep our students continuously informed of the any developments with announcements and targeted emails and offered them even stronger support and advice for the progress of their studies. Besides the engagement opportunities found in online classes, we continue offering students virtual events where they engage with fellow students or University staff. The University also endeavours to engage students with public debates which are open to all students via the University website.
Online education has gained strong ground among people’s study and self-development preferences over the last years. After a period of learning, online education can now more confidently meet contemporary leaning demands. At the same time, people seek more and more learning opportunities that fit their life context and objectives. Although Covid-19 imposed travelling restrictions which will make the online study inevitable in some occasions, it will be the power of online education which will have a permanent effect on how people view studying online.
Online education is not just the preferred choice of distant students any more. It has become a life necessity for all. Online education has awakened people’s learning appetite. Our online students should be reassured that they will receive the highest level of pastoral attention a University can provide, together with the best online learning experience. At the UG level, we put emphasis on helping our students become more autonomous and self-driven, while reinforcing basic and modern business imperatives. At the PG level, students take a critical and co-creative stance of learning. Besides our learning methodology, our online offering is earmarked by our state-of-the-art learning platform as well as our subject matter experts and students services.
Now is a great time to start exploring and to embark on one of our online programmes. Our latest intake signals a new era for our Business School online programmes as they have been redeveloped to ensure they maximise the capabilities of our new state-of-the-art learning platform and online learning models.
Discover more about studying online with The University of Law.