Software Companies Race To Keep Up With Online Learning Needs Brought On By Coronavirus

    Five months into 2020 and the year is well on its way as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to affect how higher education institutions provide services to their student customers and how their subsequent software service provider companies keep up with the online demand.

    Higher education instructors with almost little or no remote teaching experience have had to move to remote instruction and the use of online learning methods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a wide-scale transition to online college. 

    Nearly all of the Spring 2020 Semester/Quarter has been carried out online. With such a hasty large-scale transition, it cannot be a surprise that many college students and college parents have expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction with the quality of online education being provided. 

    Higher ed institutions continue to plan and prepare for a Fall 2020 that is likely to be at least partially, if not fully, virtual and largely shaped by the continuity of social and physical distancing measures to slow any spread of the novel coronavirus. As such, higher ed institutions are under pressure to work to increase the quality of the online education experience.

    Higher ed institutions have not been alone in feeling the pressure. 

    Software companies and software as a service providers have had to race to keep up with the online learning needs of higher education institutions, and will continue to do so in order to produce results that satisfy the needs of higher ed institutions and their faculty and student customers.

    What are software companies doing to make sure they produce quality results for their higher ed institution customers?

    Ensuring the mobility of online courses so that they are available not only on desktop versions but also on mobile devices.

    Making online teaching platforms simple enough for faculty and students to navigate while still being able to access complex features and tools.

    Working on Learning Management Systems (LMS) that can efficiently track and analyze the teaching and learning progress

    Designing software that is engaging and customizable 

    It takes coordinated work and effort to be able to design education software that meets the above requirements and more. 

    Robert Hsiung, China CEO of the online educational company EMERITUS, shares what he thinks with regard to the transition in online learning and its impact on software companies:

    "The massive move to online is forcing the education system to figure out how to drive engagement at scale in their courses. This has created a special window for us to leverage our experience in supporting these schools.

    I believe that the coronavirus will force educators to revolutionize the way they teach, moving from a lecture-listen model to an interactive, learn-by-doing model. 

    [Software companies] are well suited to capture the wave."

    Some if not all software companies may be well suited to capture this wave of online learning, but it is a fact that all are under pressure to deliver results as fast and as cheap as possible.

    Online software companies are, after all, hold a place of importance in the transition to online learning. Higher ed institutions depend on them in order to be able to provide a high-quality online experience for their customers.

    Angela Gunder, the vice president of the nonprofit Online Learning Consortium, says, "We hate the circumstances, but we are humbled to be [in] a position where we can accommodate the needs of so many." Gunder refers to the increase in need for online instruction training as institutions continue to figure out how to provide the best remote learning experience.

    Nothing, however, happens in isolation. In other words, for a higher ed institution's online delivery approach to succeed, it will require not only top-notch software but training of faculty so that they are able to efficiently manage such learning software when delivering course materials to their students.

    Improving the quality of online instruction for the upcoming Fall will require a multi-prong approach with effort required on the part of higher ed institutions, faculty and teaching staff, and educational software companies.

    As software companies continue to grind and produce the educational software that higher ed institutions need to provide efficient and high-quality remote learning experiences, higher ed institutions and their faculty will also need to work diligently to effectively manage the online learning experience.