Within weeks, Covid-19 catapulted lives around the world. In isolation in many countries, teachers and students have quickly switched to distance learning. Of course, this is only possible if students and teachers have access to laptops or tablets and Wi-Fi at home. Although a significant part of our country’s population is not able to engage in distance education, the pandemic, even after it goes out, could usher in a new era in online education.
First, educators who were reluctant and skeptical about the effectiveness of online education now understand that this is possible, at least in certain situations with warnings. Given that millions of students, from kindergarten to graduate school, have switched to digital learning in a very short space of time and under great pressure, this model has the potential to transform education. From music to art and from special education to physical education – this change has taken place in several classes.
Although it is too early to judge the effectiveness of online learning versus classroom learning, this unplanned e-learning experiment reveals a number of teaching and learning ideas that could have long-term implications. First, it shows that teachers can be very adaptive and creative if given the right incentives. During this humanitarian crisis, teachers are trying to ensure that their students can learn continuously. Before the pandemic broke out, if any school or college offered teachers to switch to online education within a week, educators would resist the idea.
But now teachers have proven to themselves that online learning is not only possible, but has enormous potential that remains to be realized. For students who are physically unable to attend school or college, an online environment is definitely an option. Although this alternative existed even before the virus turned our world upside down, a much higher percentage of teachers and students are now more inclined to try this way of teaching. And a change in pedagogy can only be achieved when there is a desire to accept it.
In addition, certain features of online education, when used correctly, can make learning more reliable. In a paper published in the Physical Review, Physics Education Research in January 2020, Greg Kestin, a physics mentor at Harvard University, along with his chemistry and engineering colleagues, argue that online videos have been just as and sometimes more effective. than live demonstrations. to illustrate scientific concepts to students. The authors note that students in STEM classes usually report that live demonstrations are “the highlight of the class.”
However, displaying videos is sometimes more practical, logical, and convenient than transporting heavy and expensive equipment in classrooms. Often, in large classrooms, students may have difficulty watching the demonstration if they sit further back and focus on the non-essential aspects of the experiment. Unlike video, which can be projected on a large screen and played for free, it is not always possible to repeat the demonstration to clarify students’ misunderstandings. In addition, in the video, the teacher can direct students’ attention and promote understanding using multimedia tools, such as pointing the cursor, providing audio or text comments, using animation and slow motion. Demonstrations also require more maintenance staff and can sometimes fail, to the despair of the teacher.
Online learning also lends itself more easily to the “upside-down” model popularized by Salman Khan of the Khan Academy. Instead of wasting limited and precious time in class with teaching materials, students watch videos and read textbooks at home. Teacher-led class time is spent solving problems. This model is in stark contrast to the way schools traditionally approach learning, where children are introduced to classroom content and given homework assignments.
Some other benefit of online education is those good teachers can reach more students. Although the data remains to be collected, it is worth considering whether an excellent online teacher could be more engaging and motivating than a face-to-face interaction with a low quality teacher. By no means do I want to say that I recommend the mother to be inactive. But it can certainly fill classroom learning and fill gaps in our current system, such as teacher absenteeism, lack of good teachers, lack of infrastructure (such as labs) and the inability of students to access high quality schools and colleges. In addition, governments and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs may consider providing disadvantaged students with tablets and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Good learning should always be at the heart of education. Online instruction has many advantages, but there are also disadvantages. Keeping students online can be more difficult than keeping the focus on the lesson. In addition, inspired learning involves building relationships with students and engaging in deep and personal communication with them. Although this is a problem even in physical classes, it is much more difficult, but not impossible during online courses.