2020 has been a year of uncertainties, one that’s a reminder of just how critical it is to remain nimble & adaptive as a brand or business.

Thus far, the state of emergency from today’s COVID-19 health crisis has been devastating enough to diminish the relevance of almost every economic sector imaginable. From travel to hospitality to restaurants to retail to entertainment and everything in-between, there’s been an abrupt disharmony in the traditional business-to-consumer model.

Many of these industries long for a return to some form of “yesterday,” while others actively ride the wave in order to keep up with the rapidly shifting evolution of dynamic interactive services.

The world of education favors the latter.

While most industries absorb the impact and fight through to continue production despite the supply and demand uncertainties, brands are digging deep to apply capabilities and push creative boundaries. The reality is that consumer spending habits are unlikely to rebound in the near future, and this is especially true in the form of education.

Drastic precautionary measures will be taken about returning to the classroom. Even though social-emotional learning is the foundation for development of interpersonal skills, for students and teachers alike, skepticism about face-to-face SEL will persist for some time to come. As the cost of higher education climbed to unprecedented rates even before the crisis, more and more people may begin to consider the alternatives.

Never has the sense of urgency for life-changing educational technology been more apparent. As companies are forced to reinvent their engagement strategies, the spotlight shines on industries that are already tailor-made for the intimidating transition to remote settings.

Enter the rise of educational technology and eLearning, which has taken on a life of its own. And rightfully so.

Immediate eLearning Needs

Beyond the cancelled graduations and semesters cut short, even the most prestigious college institutions are challenged with the incumbent diminishing applications and admissions. States face funding obstacles that can be applied for educational purposes and resources. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, collectively, U.S. states will incur an approximate $500 billion revenue shortfall because of the crisis (partially reduced after factoring in stimulus funding from the federal government). The search for answers is on.

Calculated steps must be taken to secure the future of students (and perhaps overcome revenue shortcomings from applications, admissions, tuition fees, room & board, etc.). Some institutions are already on-board with the conversion to online-only courses, while others are still questionable. Web-based programs like Google Classroom exist as a resource for entities looking to simplify content sharing and facilitation processes (for students and educators alike).

Despite the expectation that plenty of upcoming learning will happen via screen, the “transition” hasn’t been so easy even for the most respected global online education platforms that have been entrenched in eLearning for years. Non-profit Khan Academy, which reaches 20 million students per month, is coming to terms with the balancing act between exceptional teachers and exceptional technology. Says founder Sal Khan, “I’ve always said if I had to pick between an amazing teacher and amazing technology I would pick the amazing teacher every time. But the ideal is not having to pick and having the amazing technology empower the amazing teacher.”

While confidence in learning management and content systems remains, so do questions about overcoming the face-to-face void of absent classrooms.

Overcoming the Face-to-Face Void with Design-Driven Ambitions

With a newfound focus on digital as well as vibrant and purposeful user interface (UI)/user experience (UX) design, brands can circumnavigate the challenges of not being able to deliver extensive curriculums in-person. Fluid web design, along with e-commerce artistry, can bring spirit and energy to separate brands’ respective curriculums within a competitive virtual education marketplace. Learning environments compromised by person-to-person separation don’t have to water down a brand’s ability to facilitate fresh, engaging content for students and educators. If there’s a lesson and a “teaching moment” that rings true for the wide collection of brands fixed in the education space, it’s that adapting and embracing the revolution of educational technology looms large for a bright future.