The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of a nightmare. During this pandemic, schools, colleges, offices, and other institutions shut down and were ushered into using online platforms for education. Online learning was very new and uncomfortable for everyone in the starting. With no other option at hand, most students started getting used to this novel mode of learning. If anything, students are now that we are accustomed to this new ‘normal’ form of education; let’s look at its positive and negative sides.
The negative impact of online education
1. Missed proximity with students
As a result of online education, any form of physical, social interaction between teachers and students is missing because we are very far away from one another. Now recall those days when you were present in physical school/college. Taking with our friends in between classes, walking down our school hallways- are all small interactions that, of course, we cannot have now.
2. Multiple disconnections
Technical issues are bound to happen in online education, especially given that it is a new model of education for all. No matter how much a child is trying to concentrate in the class, wifi issues- on both student’s sides or the professor’s side, battery issues, camera/audio issues, and so many other factors can disrupt their attention.
3. No access to education for people with no or low socio-economic power
In online education, we might assume that everyone has access to the internet and electronic gadgets, but this is not the case. There are a large number of students with either no or low socio-economic power who cannot afford broadband connections and electronics.
4. Study environment
Why did your parents send you to school? Why not ask you to self-study at home? That is because going to school provides an enriching environment. Group studying also increases concentration and produces healthy competition amongst peers. On the other hand, when learning takes place in the comfort of your home, why would you bother listening to online lectures when there are loads of distractors like Instagram, music, or even sleep! And even if when you are trying to study hard, intrusions of family members or pets cause a lot of disturbance and don’t let you get into that ‘study mood,’ right?
5. Exams and supervision
In online learning, assessments are often carried on online platforms themselves, whereby instructors are limited to proxy supervision of learners, making it impossible to regulate and control cheating.
Positive impacts of online teaching
While the negative impact of online learning is large, it does have a few advantages too!
During online classes, teachers expect students to be independent, learn on their own, and engage with the material that they are teaching. Self-motivation is a crucial life skill. When you are going to work in offices, later on, your employers expect you to be independent, go after things that interest you, and seek new opportunities.
2. Improved virtual communication
Learning to work with others in a virtual environment can improve your leadership and communication skills by expressing your ideas clearly, getting responses, and projecting a professional image. While communicating with your teachers online, they expect you to write thoughtful, and polite emails or messages, respond to different perspectives and build a rapport with your peers.
3. Connecting across the globe
Thanks to technology, you now get to log on from any location. Students not only have the opportunity to network with people from around the globe, but they can also broaden their perspectives and become more aware of different cultures.
4. Learning new technological skills
From online learning, you are unintentionally learning more digital learning materials, getting familiar with new tools and software, and troubleshooting common issues. In the end, you are versed in some widely used collaboration tools, content management systems, and apps like skype, zoom, telegram, etc.
As a way to deal with the cons of online learning, the following tips can be followed:
- Set time aside for breaks. Continuous exposure to a computer screen can lead to eye strain and headaches. Taking breaks can help you rejuvenate and focus once again on learning.
- Distractions whilst learning are many, and thus setting a firm schedule for both study and play is important.
- As social interaction has reduced drastically, trying to make the best of virtual face-to-face interactions with classmates is important from time to time; outside of learning. Moreover, having your video on can help you interact more with professors, and get some additional help if required.
- Finally, consider providing aid to the underprivileged by donating unused phones or other devices which can come in handy. By doing so, you allow someone to resume learning.
Article By: Dr Rachna Khanna Singh