Options for virtual learning during (and after?) COVID-19

Eva Lantsoght
Author
Eva Lantsoght
Published
6 May '21

Will COVID-19 completely change the face of education and learning? We can't answer this question with certainty, but after more than a year of virtual learning at all levels, it's quite likely that virtual learning has become more embedded in education than before, and that it will remain there, yet perhaps to a lesser extent than during pandemic emergencies.

Today, I want to focus on how we can use virtual learning options during, and potentially after, the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm writing this post from the perspective of a researcher, at any career level, who wants to take advantage of the available information. Here are a few resources that may be of interest to you*:

  1. Online versions of courses of your university. Your university may now be offering courses in an online format, that provides you with more flexibility to watch the lectures when it fits your schedule and potentially more flexibility in terms of what type of project you need to submit to pass the course. You could see if you can use the interface between your research and the topic of the course to work on something relevant for your research and the course.
  2. Technical courses from other places. More places than ever offer online versions of the technical courses they offer. While in the past you would need to travel and set aside for example an entire week to attend such a course, you can now potentially better pace yourself through the material and take the course when it suits you. Examples of platforms are EdX and Coursera.
  3. Courses to develop your research skills. A course to help you write your first article, a course to learn how to do your literature review, or a course to help you prepare for your online defense? All of these courses and much more are available online.
  4. Courses to develop your (online) teaching skills. Perhaps you are waiting for the lab to reopen or travel to become possible so you can go do your fieldwork. In the mean time, you may want to invest in your teaching skills. Both your university as well as many online providers can have courses available to improve your teaching skills.
  5. Courses to develop your programming skills. Programming skills are always useful. Maybe now is a good time to learn coding in a new language, or take your programming skills one level up.
  6. Virtual language learning. While perhaps not directly necessary for your research, learning a new language or improving your understanding of a language can be a valuable use of your time. You can look for an in-depth grammar course, or go for a more gamified experience by using, for example, Duolingo.
  7. Learning in groups online. Joining an online group for accountability and support can help you work alongside like-minded folks. If you are looking for a way to learn in group, then joining for example an online group coaching program can be a transformational experience.
  8. Learning a new skill. Do you want to learn how to knit a sweater or how to play an instrument? Perhaps learning a new skill is what you need to get your mind and body away from your research. There are plenty of courses online, Youtube tutorials to follow, or you could reach out to a local teacher and inquire about virtual classes. Check out skillshare and Masterclass.

*If you're totally overwhelmed by everything that has happened and is happening, and learning something new is that last thing you want to do, then that is totally understandable of course!

About Eva Lantsoght

Eva started writing about doing a PhD while studying concrete structures at TU Delft and since then blogs about the non-scientific skills you need during a PhD and life as a PhD.