Online Learning

What you need to know

  1. Globally over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom because of the social distancing directives.
  2. Before the pandemic, global edtech investments had in 2019 reached $18.66 billion. The total market for online education was estimated to reach $350 billion by 2025.
  3. Learning has changed dramatically, with many educational institutions adopting the concept of e-learning. Teaching is now done remotely.
  4. Studies show that online learning has demonstrated a surge in information retention, and it saves more time. Chances are these changes are here to stay.

The last few months have been hectic. Presently there are over 4 million confirmed cases in the USA. Who knew that our world and what we considered normal would change this much? Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020. Since then, the economy has taken a downward spiral. Nations closed their borders. This meant that many organizations had to close their business operations. The ripple effect has been the loss of income and an increase in depression and uncertainty cases. So many research papers have been written about this pandemic. But with all these changes, one of the sectors that have been tremendously affected is the education sector. To curb the spread of the disease in the institution’s schools had to be closed down.

But what would happen to the education system as we know it? This was a question that was in the minds of many students, teachers, and stakeholders. Technology during pandemic has come in handy in this shift away from the classroom. Online classes have been existent for a while. It was used mainly by the few people who could not make it to the classroom. Now teachers and students have shifted all their operations to the online space. It has become apparent that online teaching is now a necessity and not just an option. Just like organizations, the education industries move resembles the work for home approach. Learning management systems like Google Classroom and Blackboard are popular tools. The exam period has been successful with software like Google Chrome extensions monitoring the students’ activities. For students, the transition has not been smooth. But with the flexibility that online learning provides, the transition has been seamless. Also, online resources like essay writing that can help with research have stood out too.

What this means for the future of education

Technological advancements are changing many aspects of the world. Education particularly will benefit from the changes that are slowing taking shape in the technology world. Now, the internet has been the saving grace for many institutions. Even with children at home, the interaction is still there even when they are unable to meet physically. Successful completion of the curriculum will be possible now that online learning is taking precedence. The integration of technology in education will only accelerate the inevitable. This is a shift that would have happened sooner. Eventually, online learning is bound to be assimilated into the daily education structure.

Studies show that this approach has changed teaching techniques. It has allowed for more interactions between the student and teachers. From the video lecturers, chat groups, and information sharing, this has been interesting to watch. The teacher can monitor the student’s progress through their interaction online. Also, students are having an easy time communicating with their tutors. Online teaching is something we can retain even after regular learning has resumed.

So what have we learned about online learning so far?

It’s only been a couple of months since operations were moved online. So here are some of the learnings gained during this period.

  • Teaching requires patience and hard work.

Parents are getting a first-row seat in understanding how challenging teaching can get. Home-schooling has shown them that patience, consistency, and communication is integral. I believe teachers will now be respected more and be well compensated for the amount of work they put it.

  • Internet access is a necessity in every household.

A 2018 study carried out by Microsoft showed that half of the American population doesn’t have high-speed internet. Subscriptions are also expensive for many of the underprivileged students. So the lack of the internet has been a hindrance to many learning institutions. The national, state and local governments will need to provide funding and offer sustainable solutions for this inequity.

  • Strong teacher-student relationships are anchored on excellent teaching.

Even with virtual learning, the teachers want to ensure they maintain a connection with the students. Zoom calls are now too popular. Teachers are conducting frequent check-ups with students and their parents. These interactions are not as good as face to face. But with the social distancing directives, zoom or video chats are close enough.

  • Data Security is integral.

Just like organizations, learning institutions need to protect students’ sensitive data.  With the desire to ensure learning continues, many institutions may violate student data privacy laws. The systems being used can expose them to data gathering and privacy violations. It has become apparent that security is a priority for all the learning tools in use. In all aspects of learning, secure measures should be established.

It is still early to determine the success of this approach. There are still many unknowns in the process. But what is evident is that online learning will change the course of teaching and learning soon.

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