This article was written in collaboration with Kaplan. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg. You can refer to our Editorial Policy here.
The year 2020 is proving to be one of the most challenging years for many people in recent times. Because of the global COVID-19 outbreak, many countries, businesses, workers and households have had to adjust the way they do things.
Even before the Circuit Breaker measures were introduced in April, the Singapore government had already started encouraging companies to allow their workers to work from home. Since then, the government has said that we should expect work-from-home arrangements to continue as the norm, even after the Circuit Breaker has been lifted.
There have also been suggestions that many Singapore workers prefer to continue working from home in some capacity in the future. This is presumably the result of seeing the benefits of working remotely while maintaining productivity and quality of life though, of course, there are exceptions depending on the types of jobs.
If we can work from home, why not learn from home as well?
Similar to working from home, remote online learning can apply to kids at the primary and secondary school levels, older students taking diplomas and degrees or even working adults pursuing further studies.
For better or worse, COVID-19 has accelerated the need for people of all ages to start embracing the concept of learning from home.
This is similar to how we will continue working even though we no longer go to the office. People are beginning to realise that learning shouldn’t stop even when they can’t physically go to schools.
Public schools have started adopting full home-based learning
When the Circuit Breaker was introduced, schools in Singapore had to close. Instead of putting learning on hold indefinitely, the Ministry of Education (MOE) switched to full home-based learning for all schools and institutes of higher learning.
Of course, home-based learning is not without its fair share of challenges. For a start, students need to have access to the right resources, which is challenging for some families. Minimally, students need a device (laptop, desktop, tablet) and a reliable internet connection. Other helpful add-ons would include a designated space for learning, along with a comfortable desk and chair.
Even though the MOE has reopened schools as of 2 June, daily classes in school are only held for Primary 6, Secondary 4 and Secondary 5 students. All other students will continue rotating between attending classes in school and home-based learning. It is highly likely that home-based learning for public schools will remain just as viable in the future.
With technology and tools, formal education can now be done online
It would be inaccurate to suggest that home-based learning is a new concept and that it was only recently introduced by the MOE. In recent years, tertiary students have begun to adopt a blended learning approach, which comprises both learning online and in physical classrooms.
For example, at Kaplan in Singapore, whether it’s pursuing a degree, diploma or taking a professional course, all programmes can be done online currently. This was introduced even before Circuit Breaker as a precautionary measure and will continue until further easing of measures issued by the authorities. To date, more than 5,000 online lessons have successfully taken place.
Similar to how some believe that it’s the work outcomes that matter instead of the hours they spend in the office, we can likewise measure the value of our education with what we have learned through our studies, whether online or offline, rather than the time we spent on campus.
Most tertiary institutions in Singapore have adopted online learning, both as a way for students to continue learning during the Circuit Breaker and as a viable option to extend learning beyond the classroom in the future. So, we need to be ready to embrace remote learning as a possible new alternative to in-class education.
Aside from pursuing an academic education, Singaporeans can learn new skills or pick up a course to enhance their knowledge. For example, the SkillsFuture website is an excellent place to start if you are looking to explore courses that are of interest to you. Here are some courses which can be done online.
Learning is time-agnostic
While it’s easy to feel discouraged with what’s going on around the world now, we should continue to learn and seek to improve ourselves, and not put it on hold because of COVID-19.
Although schools may be closed and there are many inconveniences to bear as a result of social distancing measures, learning doesn’t need to stop. By adopting technology and adapting our approach, we can continue our learning effectively from home.
If you have plans to pursue further studies, it is a good time now to enrol for a tertiary education or professional development courses. By taking the time to equip yourself with the right knowledge and skills, you can better position yourself to adapt to the changing environment.
Depending on the programme, you could even do this within a year. For example, Kaplan in Singapore offers one-year programmes such as the Master of Laws in International Business Law and other direct honours degree programmes in partnership with Birmingham City University. This means that if you only have a year to spare and want to complete your studies within that period, these are viable options you can consider.
If pursuing full-time studies isn’t doable, they also offer part-time studies as an alternative for all their programmes.
While the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed down many sectors, online learning remains unaffected. This means that schools like Kaplan in Singapore, which currently offers programmes online, can continue their curriculum with minimal disruption.
This is good not only for existing students, but also new ones intending to pursue their studies in 2020, who are understandably concerned about whether their curriculum could be impacted by the uncertain COVID-19 situation.
Similar to the future of work, the future of education is likely to go beyond the physical classroom. For students who have adapted quickly to this paradigm shift, they would have an edge over their peers in what’s to be the ‘new normal’ happening sooner than later.