Thanks to rapid technological advancements, online learning has become increasingly popular among students. The flexibility of virtual classes is making them a favorite among learners, allowing them to study without overly interrupting other tasks occupying their lives.
Nevertheless, the popularity of online learning to its current status takes its credit from a dark period of human history, the COVID-19 pandemic that hit in 2020. The disease outbreak brought the world to a standstill, and people had to work from home while students had to take virtual classes. Governments worldwide issued directives to close malls, gyms, parks, schools, colleges, and other institutions. They also advised everyone to stay home except for essentials like buying food and seeking medical care.
All the same, the world had to continue! Thankfully, the internet proved to be the fallback plan the world needed. Because close personal contact could lead to more people getting sick, the world had to transition into virtual interactions. As you may already know, the lockdown and the transition from real-life person-to-person relationships to virtual interactions had a significant physical and mental impact on learners.
COVID-19 and Virtual Learning
Although virtual learning had taken root before the pandemic, those studying online were doing so by choice. When COVID-19 hit, though, online classes became the new normal. Students had to take to virtual learning, failure to which they’d fall behind.
As is human nature, people cherish the luxury of choice. For students, the pandemic took away the options. And while learning continued, albeit at a slower pace, the lack of another alternative had significant psychological effects on a substantial percentage of learners. Let’s discuss two of the most prominent outcomes.
Decreased Cognitive Performance
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, which required the masses to adhere to a mandatory lockdown, schools and universities switched from regular in-person learning to virtual learning. Education remained a necessity throughout the difficult period, and governments and learning facilities implemented many innovative teaching/learning practices to maintain the status quo as best as they could. However, online teaching and learning represented a significant challenge involving both teachers and students.
During the pandemic, remote learning decreased the overall performance of students and colleges in general. As all teaching and testing took place online, it gave the students and teachers leverage. Some students didn’t take their tests and assignments seriously with the knowledge that doing their lessons at home meant little to no supervision. Some even opted to pay others to complete their schoolwork and tests.
Teachers, as well, had no one to answer to; hence, they tended to get to class and leave at their own pleasure. Some of them even got involved in other jobs and neglected their main job, which was to conduct lectures according to schedule.
Time and Money Savings
Studying online saves both time and money. Virtual students can attend courses and lectures online from any location. Taking classes online is inexpensive, and it reduces travel costs for learners as well as teachers. E-books and PDFs, which are some of the resources used in virtual learning, save paper, and that’s good for the environment as well, and as a result, virtual classes are ecologically beneficial.
Virtual learning can help address the problem of faculty scarcity, as a teacher would not have to travel significant distances to get to their workplace. Also, a teacher can educate bigger groups of students from home. Online learning also saves an institution running costs.
An in-person class necessitates various furniture and equipment, such as desks, chairs, and a blackboard. Conducting a lecture online is straightforward because it only requires an active internet connection and a smartphone or a computer. The cost of acquiring a learning management system for a school is significantly lower than the expense of running classes in person. Furthermore, it is a one-time expense. After setting it up right, only routine maintenance is necessary to keep it running correctly.
Online learning has positively and negatively impacted the education scene, as seen in this article. If conducted properly, it could be the best thing for society. There are students worldwide who can’t afford half the school fees charged by higher learning institutions, and virtual learning has enabled most of these students to attend school and work simultaneously to sustain themselves. They can be freelance writers, earn money from surveys, and more. Needy students are the clear beneficiaries of the growing number of institutions offering online learning services.
Concurrently, online education is proving to be quite unreliable as it has the potential to produce unqualified certificate holders. This is because some students don’t attend classes or do the tests given in their courses independently.
Online learning has been one of the best things that have happened in leveling the education landscape. With that said, new measures are necessary to curb misuse.