Fears that online-only education will keep away adult learners this fall can be put to rest. Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education — Canada’s largest —saw enrollment grow by 51% for Fall 2020 despite all of its courses being delivered online for the first time in the school’s 20-year history of virtual teaching.
Gary Hepburn, dean of The Chang School, explains why adult learners are looking to upskill en masse:
“While the economy is starting to show signs of recovery, we still have no idea what the long-term impact of the pandemic will be to the job market. Many industries are going to be disrupted. People feel anxious. Now is the best possible time to be looking at continuous learning opportunities,” he says.
He cites a growing understanding of how far online education has progressed technologically and pedagogically since its invention in the 1990s. “It shouldn’t surprise people that online learning platforms like edX, FutureLearn and Coursera are also seeing their users rise at unprecedented levels,” Hepburn says. “Online learning has culturally caught up to online dating — it’s now the default setting for just about everyone and we don’t know really if we will ever switch back entirely to pre-COVID education models,” he adds.