Many economies have shut down, business and trade have ceased, and whole communities have been placed under lockdown due to the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19). Unfortunately, this includes schools, which have been forced to cut the school year short to avoid the spread of COVID-19. However, this does not imply that learning has come to an end with the closure of campuses. Online education is now the way; going to virtual classes and lectures can be done from home thanks to the internet and current technologies. Lessons and programs are now available online for students to enjoy while under tight quarantine.
This rapid move to online education platforms, however, is not a failsafe strategy. Faculty and students are also experiencing difficulties, such as a lack of connection with classmates and professors, insufficient discussion platforms, and even the possibility of failed bandwidths or slow internet.
Let’s Look At The Good, Bad And Ugly Sides Of Online Education.
“The students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their situation or context. Nothing more, nothing less. And they want it at the moment the need arises. Not sooner, not later. Mobile devices will be a key technology for providing that learning support.” – Dr Marcus Specht, Professor of Advanced Learning Technologies, Open University of Netherlands.
What’s nice about online education is that you can access it from anywhere, even from the comfort of your own home. With the coronavirus’s rapid proliferation and transmission, physical separation has become one of the most essential prophylactic strategies for flattening the curve. This practice is followed by studying at home, keeping students and their families safe.
The list of free classes, tools, and resources grows by the day as more organizations do their bit to assist students ranging from kindergarten to post-graduate degrees. Schools are also establishing their own online education systems intended to assist professors and students in maintaining their regular schedules and curriculum.
Furthermore, online education eliminates the need to travel to class, resulting in less time spent commuting and more time spent studying. It does need discipline and a strong sense of regularity, but there is no external danger, or epidemic that may disrupt virtual lessons.
“Students who have basic or beginner level computer skills will have difficulty managing computer files and software. Since online students only study in front of their computers and no personal interaction is available, students may feel isolated from their instructor and virtual classmates.” – Brady, Articles Factory.
Although online education is exceptionally convenient during a crisis, it is not without drawbacks. One of the main worries of students who plan to convert to distance learning is a lack of contact with other students. Offline education is heavily reliant on engagement. It keeps students engaged while studying and provides knowledge that goes above and beyond the curriculum as students express their perspectives on various topics.
A virtual classroom does not have the same ambience as a classroom full of students who freely converse with their lecturer.
The interaction in online classrooms is mainly between the student and the teacher. Although video conferencing solutions allow numerous users to join a single session, the interaction among participants differs from that of a real classroom. Conversations may become fragmented as a result of poor internet connections in online education.
Furthermore, not all teachers are technologically competent. Some sessions have not restarted online because the professors are unsure how to move their lectures to this format. Arts and creative courses, which rely on personal instructions and participation, have been the most affected by the rapid change.
“One of the most concerning ethical questions facing the credibility of online education is that of rigour and grade-level expectations.” – Cathy Earle.
Some students might not have access to high-speed internet connections for online education courses, which could be a deal-breaker for distant learning. In such a case, pupils may be absent from class for a month or longer. This is especially true for overseas students who rely on university-provided internet connections.
Everything has benefits and drawbacks. Nobody or nothing is flawless. With everything changing drastically, we all need to change so we can assimilate and adapt to the new environment.
We need to discover answers rather than lament the situation, and perhaps online education is the solution for the future or the present. Colleges and universities must give students continuity in their courses and demonstrate that “the new normal”. Virtual learning, e-courses, online modules are now a requirement, not in the distant future but right here right now.