Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we work, do business, and even socialize. In what other ways has it changed our society? One change that may have slipped under the radar (especially for non-parents) is education.really were not
Online learning platforms existed prior to 2020, but the rapid spread of COVID-19 and subsequent quarantine necessitated the shift to online learning en masse. As parents of young and college-aged students frantically searched for the best fit for their children, public and private education systems leapt to meet the sudden demand. Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM), launched in mid-2019, quickly became the preferred method of conducting virtual classes in real-time.
But how has the shift to online learning affected the students as well as the teachers?
A brief history of distance learning
We’ve all probably seen advertisements for online universities. In fact, higher education has been at the forefront of the online education revolution. Around the year 2000, online education became a viable option for schools and businesses. Before that, many students learned from home by using the postal service as the method to deliver materials back and forth to the schools.
Some pros and cons of online learning
Online learning offers teachers an efficient way to deliver lessons to students. Online learning has a number of tools such as videos, PDFs, podcasts, and teachers can use all these tools as part of their lesson plans. By extending the lesson plan beyond traditional textbooks to include online resources, teachers are able to become more efficient educators.
2. Geographic Flexibility
You can access online courses regardless of your location. On the contrary, full-time university enrollment demands your physical presence to learn every topic your professor is teaching. Online courses eliminate this restriction for you.
You can decide to listen to your instructor in the café, your bedroom, or even the local gym. As long as you are available for the online course, you get to learn anywhere any time. This flexibility also means you save time that otherwise you could have used to drive to campus.
Imagine if you are to attend a special event for a loved one outside country; this equals missing that lecture. Thanks to online courses, you don’t lose anything even when you are away. You can spare enough hours to study then join others for the event.
When enrolling in a full-time school setting, you need to cater to several costs. These expenses include tuition fees, book supplies, transport, and housing. If the campus location happens to be in a city where the cost of living is high, you may end up spending even more than $12,000 a year for housing.
This budget can be financially strenuous to you, leading to poor performance or dropping out. Besides, if you access students loans, it will be high, spiking your debt burden. The good thing is that you don’t have to go through this. You can study online at a reasonable price and excel in your academics and career. An online course also gives you the ability to choose which subjects to learn, not what a university requires you to take.
4. Improved Student Attendance
Since online classes can be taken from home or location of choice, there are fewer chances of students missing out on lessons.
5. Suits A Variety Of Learning Styles
Every student has a different learning journey and a different learning style. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom, and other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups.
The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect learning environment suited to the needs of each student.
6. The Ability To Tailor Courses To Meet Specific Needs
Gone are the days of having to take a number of classes that have nothing to do with the material you are trying to learn. If you want to further your knowledge and skill set in physics, computer programming, a foreign language, or genetics, then you can focus in on the relevant area of study. There really is no need to take underwater basket weaving in order to meet a predetermined course requirement.
1. Inability To Focus On Screens
For many students, one of the biggest challenges of online learning is the struggle with focusing on the screen for long periods of time. With online learning, there is also a greater chance for students to be easily distracted by social media or other sites. Therefore, it is imperative for the teachers to keep their online classes crisp, engaging, and interactive to help students stay focused on the lesson.
2. Technology Issues
Another key challenge of online classes is internet connectivity. While internet penetration has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, in smaller cities and towns, a consistent connection with decent speed is a problem. Without a consistent internet connection for students or teachers, there can be a lack of continuity in learning for the child. This is detrimental to the education process.
3. Sense Of Isolation
Students can learn a lot from being in the company of their peers. However, in an online class, there are minimal physical interactions between students and teachers. This often results in a sense of isolation for the students. In this situation, it is imperative that the school allow for other forms of communication between the students, peers, and teachers. This can include online messages, emails and video conferencing that will allow for face-to-face interaction and reduce the sense of isolation.
4. Teacher Training
Online learning requires teachers to have a basic understanding of using digital forms of learning. However, this is not the case always. Very often, teachers have a very basic understanding of technology. Sometimes, they don’t even have the necessary resources and tools to conduct online classes.
To combat this, it is important for schools to invest in training teachers with the latest technology updates so that they can conduct their online classes seamlessly.
5. Manage Screen Time
Many parents are concerned about the health hazards of having their children spend so many hours staring at a screen. This increase in screen time is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of online learning. Sometimes students also develop bad posture and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen.
A good solution to this would be to give the students plenty of breaks from the screen to refresh their mind and their body.
Is online learning here to stay?
It is easy to see the appeal of online learning, but will it become a major learning method? That probably depends on who you ask. As technology evolves, online learning methods will improve to overcome the current challenges on an all-online education.