Changing our understanding of change — a short manifesto on online learning in the time of COVID-19.

Being a lifelong learning school, we’re no strangers to emphasising the importance of being adaptable in a rapidly changing world. We aligned our learning ethos to this, designed a curriculum with these principles, and regularly share this sentiment with our wider community.

Because for the most part, when it comes to responding to change, the world has been complacent. Despite warnings from economists and technologists alike about climate change, automation, digital transformation and shifting markets — we’re still slow to adopt new technologies, resist admitting to sunk cost bias, and behave like we’re the final version of ourselves. With transforming ourselves and our organisations, we have been moving at a glacial pace. It’s easier to default to quick patch updates, rather than make any sweeping system upgrades.

Gradually, and then suddenly

Then along came the COVID-19. What no one could have predicted — save maybe Bill Gates — has become the catalyst for the fastest change we’ve ever thought possible, arriving in the form of a pandemic. Beyond the health emergencies, we’re in the midst of stress-testing every system built over the last century, from the economy, to politics, to how frequently we should be visiting our parents. Countless of us are moving our work and our learning online in an unstructured frenzy. It’s business as unusual everywhere.

The pandemic has forced us to conduct more experiments and be more creative with how we could do different and better than any management consultant could have possibly advised.

COVID-19 has been the mother of invention.

Responding, not reacting — online learning 2.0

When software ate the world, startups and the education market reacted by taking all the content in the world, and putting it into our browsers and phones. Pre-recorded video lectures strung together into courses flooded the internet in the name of democratising education.

What followed was also a stress-inducing amount of content, confusing quality, and dismal engagement. Online learning facilitated a new vehicle for information transfer — an increasingly outdated paradigm. Turns out, access to learning on demand doesn’t really hold value when you can also access Instagram and your fridge on demand.

What we needed to rethink was the learning part of online learning. The capacity to live and work with AI, the curiosity to learn something that won’t be in the test, the ability of our teams and communities to be creative, resilient and prepared for the unexpected.

Maybe the best way to keep people adaptable, is how we’ve always done it — with other people and from other people.

In this new scramble to take learning online, we have a chance to make the learning better this time. Let’s ensure online learning 2.0 includes open conversations with real time feedback, the ability to work on problems, and the chance to showcase our creativity and practise our people skills. As we all contend with emerging challenges like automation, social alienation, and unpredictable shifts in the global landscape, these evergreen skills will be more important than ever in underscoring our human strengths.

The next normal

This week, we’re taking NewCampus classes online. Starting with a couple of classes a week, we’re working to scale up our programming with more online events and conferences, digital networking sessions and even more classes within a few weeks. As always, our focus will be on forming human connection and broadening your horizon through live content, interactive collaboration, discussion and dialogues aplenty. But this time delivered via streaming and video technology. It’s a powerful and effective way for you and your team to stay learning, inspired and connected in these very strange times.

Like all things in the time of COVID-19, we’re not sure how long this shift to online classes will last. Just like you, we’re learning too. But we’re hoping online learning is going to look very different on the other side of this pandemic.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” — from wherever you’re learning, make the most of this time at home with us!

From our living rooms staying safe,

Will, Fei and the NewCampus team

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NewCampus is an education and technology company. We design and build learning solutions equipping a new generation of critical thinkers and infinite learners to take on the challenges of unprecedented global change ahead, within their organisations and communities. Our team has been working remotely for the past five years, and now we’re also helping other companies do the same in these very strange times.

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CEO @ NewCampus, a modern business school in Asia; Aussie founder in Singapore.

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Will Fan

Will Fan

CEO @ NewCampus, a modern business school in Asia; Aussie founder in Singapore.

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