Author : Stuart Cooke
Today’s workplace looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. And this is particularly true after the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the need to adapt and work remotely.
But not only were professionals affected by this move to digitalisation and remote working, students also had to adapt.
Remote learning became a necessity in 2020, and though it may have had its challenges, there are also some positives to come from this new way of studying.
With the workplace now highly digital and remote work increasing in popularity, virtual learning has prepared students for jobs of the future in a number of ways - and My Baggage takes a look at what these are:
1. Online learning encourages collaboration as the norm
One of the most important lessons gained from working in an online learning environment is how to collaborate and work across different tools and platforms. For example, students may have to work virtually with teachers or their peers to complete projects online.
This is a hugely important skill in the modern workplace as colleagues must frequently collaborate across teams, departments and even businesses.
So, learning these procedures during their studies is hugely beneficial for students and can prepare them to start collaborating right away when they get their first job, whether that is remote or otherwise.
2. Students learn how to be productive when working remotely
One of the key challenges when working remotely is motivating yourself to stay on track and not get distracted. And this applies whether you’re working or studying.
But nowadays, most professionals won’t have their manager sitting in the next cubicle ensuring they are meeting their goals, just as a remote student won’t have a teacher there watching over them.
Therefore, another perk of online learning is that students will learn to manage their time and be productive in a remote environment.
This will come in very handy in the future if they take on a remote or even partially remote role. This is also a skill that recruiters will be looking for, as no employer wants to have to micro-manage their teams.
3. Students are becoming familiar with important technology
Although the younger generation may already be a lot more tech-savvy than their predecessors, they often don’t have to use or interact with more professional platforms until later in life. This is because many of these tools go far beyond what a student would typically learn in an IT or computer class.
But now, as there has been a crossover with a lot of the tools used for remote working and virtual learning, they are able to get to grips with this technology much faster.
For example, many have had to learn how to use systems like Zoom, Dropbox, Trello, Google Docs, the list goes on. And these are tools that many professionals will use on a daily or weekly basis to enable them to do their job.
So, as students become more familiar with these platforms and tools, not only are they becoming better equipped to take on modern jobs, but they also have some more key skills to add to their CV.
If these useful tools are second nature to them, they’ll be able to get started on work much quicker and often require less initial training, something which can be hugely beneficial to employers.
4. Virtual learning equips students with valuable soft skills
As well as having more technical (also known as hard) skills, online learning is also equipping students with a strong set of soft (or transferable) skills that can make them a lot more employable.
Some of the key soft skills they will gain include:
- Time management and keeping to deadlines
- Working independently
- Collaborating remotely
- Team building
- Organisational skills
- Communication - both written and verbal
Though a teacher won’t teach these skills directly, students will pick them up naturally as they adapt to online learning.
And the great news is, all of these skills will stand students in good stead when the time comes to start applying to jobs and give them plenty to shout about on their CV. Something which is really important if you don’t have much work experience to talk about.
5. Students will gain an increased level of responsibility
Online learning forces students to learn a higher level of responsibility. This is because they are more responsible for their educational success than when they are in a more formal educational setting.
Teachers, lecturers or coaches can support them via email or video call, but without face-to-face interaction, they won’t have someone constantly pushing them to turn work in on time, complete readings or submit projects.
This means students must learn to manage their time effectively and motivate themselves to finish work and turn it on by the deadline.
The same is true of the workforce, where professionals must take responsibilities for their own workload and deadlines. So, through virtual learning, students can already begin to hone in on these skills.
6. Students will learn to communicate effectively
Finally, whether talking to people they know or people they’ve never met before, most students will be expected to communicate via phone, video, email or social media in order to collaborate and complete projects.
This means they’ll learn to strengthen their communication skills in a number of ways. Firstly, they must listen carefully during video, phone calls or virtual tutorials and lessons. They must also be able to write clearly and explain themselves effectively through emails, messages or other written forms of communication.
When it comes to video calls, they need to present themselves well on screen, listen carefully and coherently get their point across.
This is important because, in today’s modern workforce, many professionals will work with people they never actually meet in person. They will also be expected to attend interviews, meetings or virtual events where they may be conversing with people they do and don’t know online.
So, doing this through their online learning helps to prepare students for this type of work and communication later in life and can increase their confidence when working with others virtually.