Sponsored by York University\r\nEven before the coronavirus pandemic, demand for online degree programs was rising significantly, with Research and Markets forecasting the value of the online education market to reach $350 billion by 2025. However, nobody could have predicted its surge in popularity and prominence this year.\r\nAs online (and blended) learning has become a critical tool in the world of education, we take a look at why it’s time to embrace this new way of learning.\r\nFrom the lecture hall to the digital classroom\r\nWhen universities all over the world welcomed new and returning students in September, many began saying hello through a computer screen. While this modern technology definitely isn’t anything new, the idea of relying on it for lectures, seminars, discussions and meetings can feel quite alien to start with.\r\nAnd don’t stress if you’ll be studying a more practical degree program which requires elements of hands-on learning. Universities all over the world have introduced hybrid models of learning to help overcome the challenges that come with practical courses and in-person training, something that York University in Toronto, Canada, already had in place.\r\nAs a driving force for positive change in higher education, York has developed innovative ways to enhance the online learning experience and student life, preparing students for success in real-world opportunities, while offering an enriched learning experience.\r\nEnhanced access to digital resources and multimedia learning tools support a more personalized learning experience\r\nKnowing what works well for you when it comes to your own learning style is important – and online learning offers more opportunities for you to take control of your own learning.\r\nIn recent months, York has introduced a number of initiatives to enhance students’ online learning experience. This includes the virtual assistant that York developed in collaboration with IBM – the first time that IBM AI technology has been used in this way at a Canadian university. The integration and combination of text-based and multimedia presentations, interactive assignments, progress quizzes, online forums and chat rooms also enhance the remote learning experience.\r\nA newfound culture of accountability and responsibility for your own learning\r\nWith blended and online learning comes accountability and taking responsibility for your own learning. The integration of live classes, webinars, online forums and chat rooms requires you to commit to a ‘loose’ schedule which means planning and managing your time, workload and expectations is very important.\r\nWhich leads us nicely to the final point…\r\nAnd remember – communication is key\r\nDirect face-to-face interaction with your peers and professors might not be a possibility just yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from building positive professional relationships virtually. Scheduling regular meetings with your professors and lecturers during virtual office hours is highly recommended – even if it’s to check in and make sure you’re up-to-date with current reading and assignments.\r\nAt York, daily Virtual Coffee Breaks help foster a supportive and inclusive environment, and are a great way to connect with and get to know other students from across all programs, faculties, and cultures – wherever they (and you) might be in the world.