How the Pandemic Is Shaping the Future of Online Learning
Online learning is becoming a trend. Read this research on how the online learning platform is becoming the default choice for education in the days of Pandemic and beyond.
The world of education was profoundly threatened by the novel virus Corona. Because of the alarming spread of this virus, many issues entrenched in the global education system were highlighted. Lack of focus on the students' emotional well-being and the inequality in school funding and students' accessibility to distance learning are some of them.
What Lessons Have We Learned From the Pandemic?
After the whole world was forced to shut down their educational institutions and make a sudden shift to online learning, many people were wondering whether we would ever go back to traditional passive learning. In other words, what is the future of education in the post-Coronavirus era?
This unexpected shift to online learning was quite problematic. Since no one was expecting a pandemic to be crawling around, no preparations whatsoever were done. Even though online learning was present for years now, no one thought that at a certain period of time, all educational institutions would be required to join this experience.
However, once everybody got to experience online learning for themselves, they realized that it was quite exhausting to stay in front of a PC or laptop for hours on end. They also realized that for learning to occur, students need to be engaged, energetic, attentive, and focused. That's why teachers thought it was good to reduce screen time and modify the curriculum accordingly. According to research by the University of Peking, online sessions that last from 15 to 30 minutes are the most effective way for students to study. Spending hours in front of a computer isn't helpful for any student of any age.
The students' emotional well-being and how mindful the schools are of the emotional and social needs is the second issue that was put into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing how uncertainty, anxiety, and fear became prevalent during this health crisis and how teachers responded to it sparked controversy. People were wondering if the schools were focusing at all on the wellness of the students as much as they focus on the academics.
The third issue that was brought to life during this isolation period was the lack of access of many students to devices that would make their joining to the online learning community possible. This resulted in many students being left behind and having many gaps in their learning. Governments, districts, and all the schools should work hard together to ensure that their educational systems can cope with other potential lockdowns.
The pandemic not only did expose the issues entrenched deep on the education system, but it also brought forward the debate on the status of online education. What is going to happen with online education now that the pandemic is at our doorstep? Here are some of the scenarios related to online learning that we have encountered during this time.
The Perception About Online Learning Will Change
It's a wonder what online education has done for millions of students around the world over the years. It has enabled them to get an education when an on-campus one wasn't possible for multiple reasons. It was predicted for many years that online classes would likely replace more and more traditional ones. However, after these three months of experience in online learning, this isn't the case anymore. The numerous hardships both students and teachers had to go through to adjust to the new normal resulted in this change of perception.
It was a common belief that studying online was the easiest route to getting a degree or certificates like ESL certificates. However, this pandemic proved most of these individuals wrong. One factor that made online studies more difficult was the isolation part where the whole family was at home at all times. Not too many people can handle the pressure of studies while living in a full house and a noisy environment. Not to mention the chores, some of the students had to do around the house or the obligation to look after the siblings when the parents were busy working from home.
A number of students also shared that they're getting little to no knowledge from the classes they're getting online. Sometimes they get frustrated at not understanding instructions and miss the personal interaction they got at their schools with their teachers and friends. Another element that online learning doesn't provide is routine. Being at home and studying online doesn't create a routine, and they say that they need it most.
In-person Learning Will Become More Valuable
Being away from home and isolated from the rest of society has turned social experiences more valuable for everybody. Each person is learning to value and appreciate the contact they had with other people at school, work, and other social events. In the early stages of this online learning experience, students faced different challenges. Their living environment and problems with internet access, made them realize that the brick-and-mortar form of education is hard to replace.
They also acknowledged the importance of the teachers in their learning process. Some of the students found it difficult to take instructions in writing because they could not understand the context of the assignment and what the teacher wanted from them to do.
The Pandemic Can Spark a Boom in Online Learning
Coronavirus pandemic could be a way to prove the merits of online learning and win over people who are suspicious of its effectiveness. Now that most of the schools went remote, the future of online learning depends on the reactions of students and teachers to it. However, certainly, this unprecedented emergency with which online learning was put to use during the pandemic will accelerate the adoption and embrace of online and other technology-enabled learning.
This pandemic crisis on education best illustrates the need for higher education institutions to create a digital competency so that we can enter the new era of education; the era of education in the digital world. Despite the fact that we live in a time when technology has taken over, higher education institutions have invested little to nothing in online education. This would be the ideal time to start thinking about the future. Not only would this be helpful in case of other potential pandemics hitting the world, but also it would make education more accessible for all students that, for certain reasons, can't attend a regular college.
Schools Will Need To Do Hybrid Learning
The need to mix online and traditional classrooms is a necessity, according to the students. One of the lessons students have learned from distance learning is how much better they would perform if only teachers would send the video of the lecture after class. Students say that, in this way, they would have the opportunity to go back to the lecture whenever they feel they missed something.
Hybrid learning wouldn't only help students with the lectures, but it also would be a simple way for the students to get their weekly office hours with the teacher. With online consulting, students won't have to wait in rows at the teacher's door but can ask their questions or ask for clarification if needed on the online meeting. There also would be more time designated to each student to talk about their issues through one-to-one or small group meetings.
Hybrid learning would be a great way to escape the monotony that students sometimes face. They could change their class setting by holding discussions online or could submit their assignments online for a change. Hybrid learning could make the general learning experience more entertaining and interactive.
Students Realize They Learn More Efficiently Online
We've seen students who can't wait to go back to school, but we have also seen cases of students who enjoyed the whole distance learning experience and found it very effective. They said that unlike the school environment where other students keep talking out of turn and disrupt others, studying from home was a different learning experience.
Some of the students shared that they were surprised to find out that they were learning more from home than they did in the school. They say that the disruptive students that can't stop talking in class and aren't manageable from the teachers are the reason they learn less. By talking and disrupting others, those talkative students steal valuable class time and deconcentrate students interested in learning.
Given that some schools focus mostly on the collaborative learning process, students in a class are forced to work with other students in groups of three or four people. Sometimes they say that to finish the assignments on time, they have to discipline other group members who seem to be reluctant to contribute to their workload.
Students also seem to like working at their own pace and listen to the recorded lectures. Students say that now they're not obligated to stay present and listen to many repetitive questions that are already answered; they can use that time to focus on what they think they need most.
These reasons and many more might influence their decision to choose online classes over the traditional ones.
The Coronavirus pandemic indeed did expose some of the problems the current education system has. It also brought forward the debate with the status of online education and how it will influence it. Will the impact of the pandemic be positive or negative? We don't know it yet, but we're going to wait and see.
This is a guest article by Diana Bajraktari, a writing enthusiast who loves to write about topics that tackle educational issues. As a former student herself, she spends most of her time writing about student experiences and personal development. She hopes that through her writing, she'll be able to help students to get the most out of their studies. Currently, she's writing for the University of the Potomac blog.
This article is more informative. It can make others think about the present scenario in the education system all over the world. Coming to India, what will happen in the coming academic year is being eagerly awaited by parents, teachers and students. Some governments took the decision to cancel the annual exams and public exams and promoted the students. It is fine to end the previous academic year simply by promoting the students. But, now the question is not the syllabus, it is the environment in which the students have to learn.