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How online courses changed the way we learn?

19 June 2020

What online learning teaches us after the pandemic?

COVID-19 crisis changed lots of things on the globe. It appears that many jobs can be done remotely without strict time constraints. Crowded streets can be empty of people, and the sky can be without planes. Isolation stopped and changed lots of things. Education in many countries tried to adapt to the pandemic threat by implementing remote learning to minimize the threat of infection.

However, many students and teachers have tried online learning for the first time. Without proper preparation, this was a rather rushed process leading to lots of confusion between teachers, students, and parents as well. Everyone had to make sure that there is a spare computer, camera, and microphone in the house. Proper internet connection had to be ensured for each child to access remote education. Generally speaking, there are plenty of good things and not so with online learning applied to traditional education.

The good of online learning

One thing is obvious – it cannot be rushed. COVID-19 caught us unprepared in many aspects. First of all, there are lots of old school teachers that are still technophobic. If they were not applying modern methods of teaching, starting online teaching was quite a challenge. They had to adapt or leave as there was no other way. To provide material online teachers had to do their best in compiling information for online translation. Meaning that in many cases, there was less information overhead provided.

Online learning opens new ways of communicating between student and teacher and among students. Students who are confident in technology cached up quickly with a new way of learning as they previously been using the internet to find necessary information.

The other great benefit of online learning during a pandemic is that there is no strict time constraint. Even if teachers try to make time windows, they are much larger than it would be applied physically in class. Students have less stress to accomplish assignments. In many cases, tasks can be performed much quicker and as a rewarding use spare time for other activities.

Students can learn without leaving their comfort place. It is debatable if this is a good thing because different location makes you more adaptable to new conditions. The home may act as a greenhouse, and later it may be not easy to reintegrate.

Distant teaching opened the ability for teachers and students to experiment with new ways of learning. Students and teachers can experiment with different methods and technologies.

The bad of remote learning

Even if online learning has many benefits, there are a few significant drawbacks.

First of all, the need for technology. There must be a proper computer, internet connection and working software to ensure conditions study online. No surprise that not every family is capable of providing necessary tools, especially if there are multiple kids at home. In some country’s governments tried to supply computers during the COVID-19 crisis to those who need, but the process was slow and not practical.

Another issue that appeared was the lack of reliable software. Teachers used different means to provide materials and assignments to students. Different lessons used different platforms for communicating. In the beginning, there was lots of confusion, but eventually, things settled down. Teachers started communicating with each other while looking for the best options.

Probably one of the most popular platforms used for online teaching was Zoom. Before the pandemic, it was a little known program for online conferencing. It was taken as a convenient option and extensively used for learning. Eventually, it appears that the program was vulnerable to hacking.

Probably last but not least problem with online teaching was and still is lack of control. It is tough to control if student accomplishes assignments honestly. Without direct contact, there are lots of temptations to cheat. There is no secret that parents, friends, and other people were involved in the learning process of kids during the pandemic. We can argue that even with writing help, students still learn and it is even more fun. Who knows maybe assisted learning is also an effective way?

Will pandemic adjust the learning process?

No doubt, that pandemic adjusted the understanding of how we can work and study. Inevitably there is a struggle to teach and learn online as they are facing responsibilities at home and families. The teacher may have their children that need taking care of; students may have younger brothers and sisters that disturb the learning process. This is challenging with current conditions. In other words, what happening during a pandemic will hardly is a representation of what will be in the future.

However, current experience is a great learning opportunity to prepare for possible future threats. We see that there is still a lack of democracy in learning and teaching. There is still not enough trust in students if there is no direct control. Learning should not be only centered around results and marks, but instead focused on personal evolving. With distance learning, new challenges arise on how to test student’s knowledge. There are rising debates if traditional exams are necessary. Tutors should focus more on preparing assignments that are likely to be cheated.

A new term of adaptive learning comes out when speaking about individual students. Algorithms may be used to adapt to personal student levels and capabilities to keep him motivated and engaged. Unified teaching techniques do not work equally – some benefit while others get bored. There are always people, who despite circumstances, put equal effort. However, to disclose the full potential of each student, individual and adaptive learning is probably the way to go.

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