The unexpected benefits of virtual education.
- Collaborating online might prepare students with the skills needed for modern careers.
- A growing category of jobs will require employees to work in geographically dispersed, virtual teams.
- Many students may have enough maturity, focus and self-discipline to learn digitally.
Let’s just say it: there is nothing ideal about students and teachers dealing unexpectedly with remote learning, as millions have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, there may be a silver lining to virtual classrooms and distance learning, which many universities and schools this academic year are defaulting to, in various degrees, due to the coronavirus. As students and teachers may have to compensate for logistic challenges, collaborating online might prepare high school students with the kind of organizational acumen, emotional intelligence and self-discipline needed for modern careers, particularly those that allow for the growing trend of working in remote, distributed teams. The sooner that students master those proficiencies, the better off they’ll be when they reach the job market.
Many people worked from home at least part of the time before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only accelerated that reality. In 2018, 70% of people globally telecommuted at least once every week, and 53% worked outside of a traditional office for at least half of the week, according to International Workforce Group.
In the US, as the pandemic forced many employees to work from home, their employers were encouraged by how productive their workforce remained. So much so that by 5 June 2020, 82% of 200 US business leaders surveyed by Gartner said they intended to give employees the option of working from home at least part of the time after the pandemic; 47% reported that they will offer telecommuting 100% of the time.
Employers weren’t the only ones who were pleased: an August 2020 IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study discovered that 67% of US respondents surveyed prefer to work from home, at least some of the time. Fifty percent of respondents want it to be their primary way of working when the pandemic ends.