Learning Opportunities During COVID-19

Blog:

The world has changed quite a bit in the last few weeks. During this time of COVID-19 dominating our conversations, states issuing stay-at-home orders to citizens, quarantine, and the general stress everyone is feeling, it felt silly to continue on with my planned blog post about the importance of handouts and their presentation. So, instead, I’m going to look at how different organizations, companies, and schools are continuing learning during this period. I do write the training posts for the blog, after all, and need to maintain some form of normalcy.

A timely, topical, and highly successful example of continuing education comes from The World Health Organization (WHO), which has been distributing information on how to respond to the COVID-19 virus through online training videos and a simulation program. The learning team of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme worked with technical experts to quickly develop and publish this online course on January 26. As of February 7, more than 25,000 people have already accessed this real-time information from WHO experts. Approximately 3000 new users have registered for this training every day since its launch. Making use of the online learning platform has allowed this information to quickly be available to people across the globe, in various languages, at any time. While created and intended for healthcare professionals, it is openly accessible to anyone in the public who is searching for information as well.

While the concern of exposure is already stressful, the stay-at-home orders and quarantine stack on additional stress as businesses begin to close, and people find themselves either unable to work or having to adapt to a new working situation.

Companies that have ceased operations, or are running with limited, essential staff in the office are participating in a large-scale remote learning experiment.  Some companies are capable of continuing regular operations remotely, or a semblance of their daily activities. However, it requires their workforce to learn software they may not be familiar with, such as Zoom or WebEx, with little to no direction. Employees who are not used to working remotely may need assistance in adjusting to their new situations, which could require either remote guidance or recommended e-learning courses, several of which have been appearing in top searches of online learning platforms. Other companies do not have the ability to maintain daily operations, and some of these companies are encouraging those employees who are temporarily displaced to devote this time to develop both hard and soft skills through online learning platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Coursera. Some of the paid online platforms are currently offering those affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns access to specific courses for free. As mentioned before, these courses tend to focus on how to set yourself up for success while working remotely, something that many will not be accustomed to and may find difficulty in doing well. Others include time management and productivity courses that can be put into use once employees return to their positions.

While the free courses for professionals are somewhat limited, online learning catalogs open widely for students. As K-12 schools and higher education institutions have designated weeks or months of e-learning and remote learning, online learning platforms are allowing free access to online courses for teachers and university professors to help build their remote programs. A host of online learning platforms are granting free access for students in a myriad of topics for levels K through graduate.

Universities are offering entire online learning catalogs to the public as well. You can find courses in a range of topics, from 18th-century opera to high-dimensional data analysis. If you’re interested in a topic, there’s a course for it online, and you can openly access it right now.

So, while we are all dealing with the current situation in various ways, either as an essential employee, remote worker, or as someone currently displaced from work, know there is an opportunity for growth and enhancement right now that is unprecedented. Find something that fascinates you, learn about that topic you’ve always been interested in but never had the time or money to explore, come out of this situation with new knowledge and a more robust skill set.

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