It’s been over a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the world is still grappling with the fact that there are certain aspects of life that have been severely affected by it. The education sector is among those that have been forced to make big adjustments in order to continue providing learners with essential knowledge. Turning to online learning has made it possible to organize classes despite the pandemic but is there a new era of education just around the corner? Keep on reading to learn more about the rise of online learning.
How have education institutions responded to COVID-19?
According to UNESCO, more than 1.3 billion learners have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak. What is more, over 160 countries worldwide have had to partially or completely close down schools to prevent the further spread of the virus.
However, over time, countries have found ways to keep their educational systems running. For example, many schools have been investing in digital technology long before this crisis, which has allowed them to make a shift to online learning without many issues. On the other hand, those institutions that have not put the focus on distance learning may not have been so agile during this change but they still implemented various ways of online learning in order for their students to not fall behind.
Realizing the necessity, platforms used for online learning have started offering free access to various services. From online learning software and video conferencing tools to virtual tutoring and language apps, there is a significant increase in usage of technology that will make learning from home much more accessible.
What are the challenges of online learning?
With that in mind, there are still some challenges when it comes to online learning. For instance, some countries and learners don’t have access to reliable internet and technology that facilitate distance learning. According to OECD data, only 34% of students in Indonesia have a computer to use for schoolwork. On the other hand, that number is as high as 95% in Austria, Norway, and Switzerland.
The income brackets within countries also play a role in online learning. In the United States, almost 25% of 15-year-old students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have a computer they could use for school while virtually none of their counterparts from a privileged background face the same problem.
Furthermore, it’s not only learners that have had to adjust to the new circumstances. Many institutions, from private learning centers to public schools, needed to find the best approach that would suit everyone. For instance, finding the best online LMS for RTOs was essential to keep working and learning together. Learning management systems that offer instant messaging and progress tracking have been highly sought-after since the outbreak.
How effective is online learning?
When it comes to how effective online learning is among those that do have access to the necessary tools, there is evidence that indicates that this approach has many benefits. For example, research shows that students learning online can retain up to 60% more material compared to only around 10% when learning in a classroom. This is due to the fact that students can learn at their own pace at home, with the chance to re-read and skip through concepts as they need to.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that the age of the students does affect the effectiveness of online learning. Younger learners need a structured environment and oversight to not be distracted. To provide this for learners, institutions are implementing various tools that should replicate a physical lecture and promote inclusion and intelligence. While group classes where students can play various games that encourage engagement are available, teachers also organize one-on-one lectures that can help further motivate younger learners.
What does the future hold for the education sector?
While there is a fair share of difficulties in e-learning, it has helped us spread knowledge during these unprecedented times. What is more, many schools and centers have realized all the benefits of online learning and are considering implementing it going forward, regardless of how the pandemic plays out. However, before the education sector can make such moves, it must ensure that the teachers are well trained and prepared and that everyone involved has the necessary tools. Otherwise, the quality of education will suffer immensely.
With social distancing becoming the norm, it’s only normal that there is an alternative to teaching in person. Online learning has stepped up and, despite a varying degree of success, showed that there is no need to stop learning even during a pandemic.