The pandemic was an unforeseen misfortune that overwhelmed our daily lives. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and this crisis is no different. It helped us witness the human ability to overcome even crippling setbacks once again. We worked remotely, our schools went online, and we even came up with a vaccine. We adapted.
Let’s take a closer look at our students. How have they adapted?
The Online Mode Of Education
Online education, often called electronic learning (eLearning,) is a form of distance education through the Internet. When the pandemic made schools go online, the initial months weren’t smooth. Students, alongside teachers, struggled to adapt to changing classroom dynamics. Nonetheless, some adapted better than others, and some preferred the online classes over the traditional ones.
For instance, a shy or introverted student who prefers working alone will find online classes conducive to his growth. Conversely, an extroverted student who collaborates best with others would find online schooling harder to adjust to. Individual struggles aside, we cannot deny that switching to online classes escalated a global education crisis.
The pandemic also provided an opportunity for many to upskill or pursue a passion. Consequently, online learning platforms also witnessed an increase in enrollments. For instance, Coursera saw a 248% increase in enrollments (2020 impact report), and Udemy saw a 425% increase in enrollments(data report of 2020). Similarly, edX welcomed 10x more newly registered learners and saw a 15x increase in course enrollments (2021 impact report).
The online classes owe their popularity to these factors;
- Learn from the comfort of your home
- Flexible schedules
- Learn at your own pace
- Student-centric classes
- Promotes conceptual understanding
- Self-motivated students can thrive in this setup
- A variety of teaching aids to choose from
In a nutshell, online education provides an opportunity for students to attend classes from the comfort of their homes. It saves time and money that we otherwise spend commuting. Additionally, the use of graphics and other resources like PowerPoint slides, ebooks, and videos add to the value of education.
Every coin has two sides, and eLearning is no different. For instance, the digital divide in many countries placed them at a disadvantage when schools went online. It refers to the gap between those who have access to computers and the Internet and those who do not. The seriousness of the issue is evident in the fact that the theme of International Literacy Day 2021 was ‘narrowing the digital divide.’
As mentioned before, different students adapted to online schooling in different ways. Socializing with their peers may be an inseparable part of their academic life for some students. And such students struggle to cope with the resulting sense of isolation. Similarly, while self-motivated students could keep themselves disciplined, many other students found themselves getting easily distracted.
Detractors have thus challenged the endless list of advantages put forward in favor of online classes. These are some of their arguments:
- Digital divide
- Lack of opportunities to socialize
- Greater risk of getting distracted
- Greater scope for cheating
- Increased screen time
- Students who are not self-motivated struggle to keep up
- Needs a greater sense of discipline
The online mode of education has prompted the students to be more independent. To grow, they must now seek out classes and lectures. A teacher no longer controls what a student learns. Instead, they guide a student along the learning process.
Some students might still treasure the social interactions of a traditional classroom; therefore, online classrooms may not be for everyone. However, it has become a viable mode of education for many over the years.