It’s not always what you teach, but rather how you teach.
And at the University of California, Irvine, lecturer Thomas Eppel, Ph.D. is helping educate others for the digitally driven world.
“I spend more time, or at least as much time, teaching online as I do in a traditional face-to-face format,” he said.
Eppel is talking about is UCI’s Digital Learning Lab at the Paul Merage School of Business, a full-on production studio designed for remote learning which was built before COVID-19 forced campuses to close.
“I always say the Paul Merage School of Business was maybe the most prepared school, certainly here on campus, when the pandemic hit,” Eppel said.
He believes the digital learning lab offers three distinct advantages to traditional learning: convenience, flexibility and mastery.
“To be able to watch a video over and over again and until you truly master the material, I think is another huge advantage of online education,” Eppel said.
It's an academic advantage students say has helped them prepare for life post pandemic.
“In terms of COVID, I think it did mean we were better prepared for what was happening,” said Sarah Kutner, an MBA candidate at UCI.
Kutner has taken online classes at other schools before but says the DLL is online learning at a higher level.
“I think it definitely has moved our transition because we already did have some focus on how can digital technology augment our learning experience,” she said.
With more colleges transitioning to remote learning, a lot of them are reaching out to leaders at UCI, looking at ways they can improve their digital learning experiences.
“We’re also able to help our sister schools here at UCI along with the central campus,” said Natalie Blair, UCI’s director of digital learning.
She says with more schools investing in this kind of education, her staff is committed to helping others.
“We’re definitely leading and if you stop learning you stop leading,” Blair said. “So, we’re always iterating and improving our methods.”
Blair added that even though more students are now learning from a distance, this technology means that they’re not learning alone.