What can we expect from the future of the digital learning experience? We spoke with our National Programme Director Richard Haggett to get his views on the nature and evolution of online learning.
The University of Law has certainly increased its online offering since the beginning of the pandemic. Although we were moving in this direction in any event, the response, and now the responsibility, to design and develop courses as “online first” has accelerated. Whereas, historically, existing courses may have been adapted for online delivery, it’s important that the philosophy has changed to ensure that online is not a secondary thought in the development of new programmes and updates to existing ones.
At the university, there are a few models for delivery, all of which seek to offer both rigour and flexibility. For example, in our asynchronous method of delivery, such as on our LPC Online, in working through the modules, students will work to a series of deadlines for the production of their tasks rather than being required to attend classes which might be timetabled inconveniently for their other commitments. Bearing in mind that there are deadlines, so it is still rigorous, the student can work at their own pace.
LPC Online is currently the most popular online course offered by The University of Law. This is unsurprising because the LPC has traditionally been the largest course for the university anyway. The introduction of the SQE has led to the development of courses preparing students for the demands of the SQE and offering academic awards for successful completion; as already mentioned, these have been designed from inception to target all learners including those learning online, rather than after-the-event adaptation.
On the whole, online learning appeals to those with other commitments that may mean that adhering to a traditional, set timetable which might not be able to bend, hasn’t been an option. The pandemic has heightened the point and affected everyone in their working and home lives, having to juggle family, caring and other commitments.
I believe that the next development in online learning is the dropping of the word “online” and just considering it the norm of learning, that it is not some sort of “otherness” nor in a pocket of its own; instead, it is the future of learning although for many students, that future is already now.
To ensure that online students always feel connected, The University has developed a dedicated Online Campus with its own support teams and a dedicated welfare and counselling service, a fully serviced structure with Dean-level oversight and a dedicated tutor team. Everything that an attendance Campus has, except bricks. Within the Campus there are regular and repeated events,
Given how we are all encouraged to live online – paying bills, downloading health service apps, engaging with services through their websites etc., the perception that learning can only effectively happen within a physical space has changed and will continue to.
The primary benefit particularly with the asynchronous, deadline-led approach is that the learner can shape their learning time around their other commitments. You and your ambition are not limited by the four walls of the classroom in which you happen to be timetabled.
When thinking about applying for an online course, forget “online” for a moment. Take the usual steps such as thinking about the nature of the course, the subject matter, and the demands. The “online” part should melt into the background as a norm; the programme is still the programme and it remains important to work and engage and get the most out of it.
Learn more about the online community at The University of Law and how you can benefit from online study.