How can remote students benefit from tech support?

There is no doubt that the explosion in extended bouts of remote learning seen during the Covid-19 pandemic brought in its wake many psychological, social and emotional challenges for students who were accustomed to normal campus-based life. However, there were also benefits. Online teaching and tutorial support helped students to maintain their studies without plunging them into full “radio silence” during lockdowns and self-isolation requirements. 

In fact, online teaching has a surprisingly long lineage. Centers of academic excellence such as Pennsylvania’s top-ranking Wilkes University, for example, have been providing online degrees at Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral levels for years, long before the coronavirus brought the world to periodic standstills in 2020-21. 

Designed and tailored to the needs of mature students who already have careers and often family commitments to juggle, these meticulously crafted, flexible online programs composed and delivered by highly-credentialed experts in their respective fields allow eligible and motivated learners to advance their careers with coveted additional qualifications. This can be accomplished without having to follow the attendance strictures of a conventional campus-based program; they can access online teaching and tutorial support on a 24-hour basis, fitting learning requirements around their existing work and family schedules.

With remote learning catching on significantly post-pandemic (so much so that a recent Forbes article referred to online study options as “the new normal”), another issue has come into focus: how do students who are engaged in digitally-mediated online study get support when technical gremlins strike, and are there any tips for mitigating or preventing technical hiccups in the first place?

Educational centers take tech support seriously

Centers of learning with extensive experience delivering remote learning (like Wilkes) will typically have their own team of IT experts to call on, and each online student is usually paired with a student support adviser to guide them through their studies. Technical glitches that can be solved at the university end may often go through this route as a first port of call, with the IT team available for more technical expertise if necessary. 

Other educational centers learned during the pandemic that automated service portals (such as ServiceNow’s “ASK” solution, which stands for “Ask, Service, Knowledge”) were hugely valuable in providing tech problem-solving knowledge swiftly to staff and students alike. 

It doesn’t end there, however. Old-fashioned self-reliance and forethought can be called upon to prevent or mitigate tech glitches too. It’s always a good idea for students who are new to remote learning to spend some preliminary time getting familiar with what, to them, may be entirely novel technology. Something that looks easy to use at first sight might require some preliminary setup steps, for example, so it is always a good idea to take nothing for granted when preparing to use new technology. Always allow a generous period of “getting to know you” time.

Prevention is better than cure, and one underestimated preventive measure is to get into the habit of making backup files regularly and storing them securely, either in the cloud or on an external hard drive. Relatively simple steps, such as knowing how to use the mobile hotspot feature on a smartphone, can prove valuable if your internet service gets interrupted. 

A final guiding principle for dealing with tech glitches can be summed up in two words: don’t panic. 

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