calendar Thursday, 20 January 2022 clock
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OUR education system has been going through an unprecedented situation, something that has shaken up its foundation, due to the Covid-19 crisis which has paved the way for virtual learning. As a result of what we have gone through, it is vital to gain a nuanced understanding of students’ online learning experience.

The whole world is continuing its battle to control the vicious spread of the coronavirus, and schools and other learning centres were forced to migrate to virtual learning. Education is a virtue that stays with the individual throughout life and can be used to innovate the world. But today, this virtue is at a crossroads due to the pandemic. 

Teachers who were familiar with the conventional teaching methods were obliged to embrace technology despite the lack of technological literacy among some of them. To address this problem, virtual learning webinars and peer support systems were launched. On the other side, student dropout rates increased due to economic, psychological and academic reasons. Academically, although it is virtually possible for students to learn anything online, learning may perhaps be less than optimal especially in courses that require face to face contact and direct interactions. 

A classroom is actually a laboratory to test ideas, interpretations and counter arguments, which also helps in overcoming fear, anxiety, discrimination and stage fear. A teacher facilitates a child’s thought process and creativity through engagement in critical dialogue. So, taking higher education online is similar to playing a sport like cricket or football online.

According to surveys, due to solitary learning, a lack of social elements and personal attention, higher rate of students give up. Sometimes, online classes lack concentration as children check emails, chat with friends or surf web while attending lectures. 

Another significant issue is that in developing and under-developed countries, a large segment of population don’t have access to technology which is a major concern. 

Today’s health crisis has transformed many aspects of life and consequently online learning became a major part of educational institutions across the world. But the main focus should be on quality education for all including the poor and the undeserved.     

Every student has a different learning journey and a different learning style; some will be visual learners while others might prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some thrive in classrooms and others are solo learners who will get distracted by large groups.

For these categories, virtual learning, with its range of options and resources, can be personalised in many ways. Reduced financial costs and accessibility of time and place can be considered as a set of positives of online learning but at the same time, its negatives are far more.

Inability to focus on screen for longer periods of time, technological issues and a sense of isolation due to minimal physical interaction between students, peers and teachers are drawbacks of online education. More significantly, an increase in screen time is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of virtual learning which ultimately affects the mental and physical well-being of our future generation. 

Technology was always set to play a major role in education’s future, but the pandemic kicked this transition into higher gear.

Learning can happen anywhere, it always takes place in a wide variety of settings beyond classrooms, and with many schools less accessible during this crisis, people were driven to explore informal learning spaces. We must ensure all young people have the skills and resources to fully participate in our increasingly digitally connected society and economy. 

Education is not just about subject knowledge but also about developing social skills and sportsmanship among students which is built over years. Relying solely on online education will hinder the holistic development of youth and many may underperform later in their professional and personal lives.

With in-person classes cancelled, leaving many students feeling lost and incomplete, we are living in a world of uncertainty with no clear end in sight. There is no immediate interaction between students and educators but distraction of the web is right before their eyes.

Today’s generation lacks the intimacy and human connections that just cannot develop in an online setting. Finally, online learning is not the future. Never was. Never will be. It’s just not what students want. Despite great challenges, students are coping with this new learning set-up , but must be replaced eventually when the current situation improves.

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