Changing times for me

I admit I haven’t posted since November 2019, but for good reason. I have been a bit busy, in March I had my first child, so the previous few months were very busy with preparing to go on maternity leave, moving house and preparing for the new baby. I am still continuing with my Masters in Digital Education and will return to my teaching job at NZIE in July.

I have written this post in my head a few times – whilst on long walks with my baby to get him to sleep. Not only am I in a changing time but the world is. The week after my son was born, New Zealand went into lock down, joining the rest of the world. At a time when I was expecting to be isolating to protect my new born child from microscopic threats, the rest of the world was doing the same. Overnight people were expected to just be able to work from home. Teachers were expected to deliver courses online and students to learn at home.  

Changing times for Digital Marketing 

I have worked from home for many years, only in the past 2 years have I been based in a college every day. Previously I ran my company Online Toolbox with my team from home, with staff members working from their homes. Whilst the world of Zoom calls, Microsoft teams, skype and working with your child on your knee might be temporary I suspect some things will change permanently.

The world of digital marketing is ideal for this situation, as long as you have an internet connection and a laptop you can work from anywhere. The advantages of collaboration are huge but tools such a zoom allow for this. The internet is 24/7 so having the flexibility to work flexible hours supports this. I cannot understand why there are still so many digital marketing agencies paying a small fortune for office space. When they could work from home and have weekly or monthly get togethers hiring or renting board rooms.

Even time zones aren’t a problem, I have supported over 50 digital marketing clients in the UK for 3 years whilst living in New Zealand, which is 12 hours ahead of the UK, I will often have skype calls at 9pm my time, 9am UK time.

Businesses have been forced into implementing work from home strategies and whilst I understand not all business can work from home – dentistry isn’t going to work! For a lot of our office-based roles recent events has proved it possible. 

Changing times for Education 

My other passion is Education. This lock down couldn’t have come at a better time for me I am doing my masters in Digital Education, predicting that more courses will be moving online. I was keen to specialise in this area because I could see that moving out of the classroom would fit better with my life plan of starting a family, so the timing was perfect.

There are some fantastic online courses, but why do students still study in classrooms? Well sometimes this is obvious, young children need that socialisation and direction for their learning, I am sure any parent of a primary school child who has been trying to home school would agree that it’s a challenge and that their children miss their peers. My specialism is Higher Education, students are mature 18+, have chosen to study the topic and are motivated to achieve personal goals such as better jobs pay, careers or research opportunities.  So why do universities still offer classroom-based courses? 

I talked with some students last week to get an idea of how they found study after they were forced to move from classroom to online study. Each were from different backgrounds and it was clear the international students need the classroom environment to socialise, learn the culture and find career opportunities. However, if there was a way to still achieve those elements they were happy to study online. Domestic students, especially those with families loved the flexibility of studying online. Our Digital Marketing course had to move online overnight so there wasn’t time for development so it became a synchronous course (students & teachers are expected to be online at the same time all together). This isn’t a perfect way to deliver an online course, but needs must during this difficult time. However, the feedback was excellent and all students agreed that if this course was offered online as a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous they would engage with the programme. But previously they didn’t think they would enjoy this online way of learning. 

I suspect the forced online learning has changed the mindset of a lot of students, businesses and universities. Which opens up a lot of opportunities, as a result we will be seeing an influx of online courses and we must be careful not to lose the quality of teaching and learning in our haste to move online and promote to new markets.

Eventually we will return to a “new normal” but it will be a long time before we are travelling around the world, studying and working internationally. Everybody needs to adjust to these new flexible ways of working and studying. 

If you would like any help with online tools and technologies please get in touch I’d be happy to recommend some great online tools which can help to add variety to your teaching or small business management. If I get time I’ll put a post together of the tools I use and add a link here.