With the arrival of the COVID-19, many traditional high street businesses have been forced online
Those who already specialised in providing an online service were one step ahead, as digital has always been their focus. They were built to operate in that environment. Those who had to switch from purely, or predominantly, traditional, off-line process to online found the last few months challenging.
Moving to a digital shopfront is not a new concept. Over the last 20 years, we have seen the emergence of online only banks, retail stores, food ordering apps and other digital first companies. These businesses have excelled in their chosen niche environments by creating a tailored user experience, specially designed for the individual. This level of service can be difficult to achieve in a physical store.
While the current pandemic is impacting the high street, with many retailers closing stores, we must acknowledge that the move away from the high street, in favour of online, is not a recent phenomenon.
And the shift to online isn’t just about retail and ecommerce. Education has also gone digital
Schools, colleges and universities were some of the first to feel the impact of lockdowns triggered by the pandemic. In recent weeks, we’ve seen most European countries try to get students into the classroom, only for there be a spike in cases, leaving many students back learning online through platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. But are they delivering a positive, engaging, experience for students and teachers?
There are certain educational institutions that provide purely online learning; however, the vast majority are geared towards a face-to-face, classroom-based, learning environment. Just as with traditional banks and retailers attempting to provide an online service, in an educational setting, an online learning experience isn’t guaranteed to be good, just because it’s online. Without the necessary knowledge, tools and approach, the shift to online could very well be a negative experience for all involved.
Where budgets allow, schools, colleges, and universities need to invest and put measures in place so that online learning sits alongside traditional learning. This isn’t just about providing a temporary alternative to face-to-face, but rather a long-term investment that will allow them to offer the same experience regardless of where the learning happens.
One of the key things to consider is which platform to invest in. But that’s just one element of a successful delivery. The content itself also needs to be reinvented and recreated to ensure it works online. It’s not just the technology, it’s the human imagination and creativity that goes into making the experience one that people can really engage with.