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How COVID has changed the future of getting a college education

A global research study from education technology company "Instructure" shows the pandemic sped up changes that were already taking place in higher education.

CLEVELAND — Questions concerning the future of higher education loom after many colleges and universities had to quickly adjust to changes brought on by the global pandemic.

What’s the future of higher education intuitions? Will the heavy reliance on remote learning during COVID make going off to school, staying on campus and taking in-person classes a thing of the past? For answers, 3News turned to Ryan Lufkin, a senior director at Instructure, an education technology company that provides learning platforms for educators around the globe.

The company recently released findings from their 2021 State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education Global Research Study and Trends.

Lufkin says their research indicates that the pandemic sped up changes that were already taking place.

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“Over the last decade we've seen a lot more availability of online courses of technology in the classroom to support learning in what we call a blended classroom approach,” Lufkin explains. “Over the last two years of the pandemic that's jumped another decade forward.”

Even though Lufkin says education will be more online in the future, he believes there's always going to be room for an on-campus experience.

“It's very formative,” Lufkin says. “It really does teach a lot … working with diverse groups, evidence-based decision making. So many different skills that are hard to recreate online.”

In fact, Instructure's research states “for students in 2021, the preference for online learning decreased slightly from last year (50% vs. 47%), as did a positive opinion toward online learning (50% vs. 46%)."

Instructure also says higher education institutions “creating meaningful, interactive experiences between faculty and students, and connecting students with one another will be crucial for hybrid and remote courses” in the future.

Lufkin says life-long learning, where people re-skill to start a new career after they’ve had a career in another field, is the new normal. He says he believes we’re going to see higher education institutions expanding their programs and creating corporate partnerships to meet these needs.

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