The COVID-19 lockdown has closed schools and colleges all across the world as a result education has changed dramatically. There is a distinct rise of online learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on the digital platform. Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classrooms. Hundreds and thousands of students are glued to a computer or smartphone screens as the teachers take to the online apps for the lectures, assessments and tutorials.
There was already high growth and adoption of technology in education in precedent years but with the pandemic, there is a sudden shift from the classroom and online learning turns out to be the only way out. Adoption of e-learning is globally preponed.
Are you enthusiastic or doubtful about online learning?
That is because this concept is not yet plenarily explored by the majority of educationist. The educators approach this paradigm with a plethora of ebullience or concern. The sizable voluminous of learners are also sceptical as at home there are a lot of distractions, temptations and lack of motivation. Transferring to online learning is the biggest challenge both for the educationist and learner.
It is consequential to consider both pro and cons of online learning so one can be better prepared to face the challenge of working as well as be ready to embrace incipient opportunities it has to offer to both as a facilitator and student.
Strengths of online learning
1. Distant learning
Students from anywhere in the world can take these classes or participate in this provided they have computer and internet connection. This gives equal opportunity to all when distance and work schedule makes offline or physical learning difficult and sometimes infeasible. It does eliminate the need to commute, saves money and time.
2. Self-paced learning
Time efficiency is another pro of a virtual classroom. Online classes are accessible 24 hours. Children have perpetual access to lectures, course material and discussions anytime. This is even more convenient to learners who may need to go through once again the lecture or might need more time to reflect on some material, before moving on to next topic. Integrated advantage for the teacher, they don’t need to give the same class repeatedly to different students, as they can save recordings and pass to other groups.
3. Latest information from any corner of the globe
The Internet has made it convenient to work for sundry purposes in our life like shopping, e-banking and many more, then why not use it in learning also. Most of us consume content lying on the internet. Education can easily be supplemented with all resources on the internet and not just banking on traditional education.
4. Discriminatory factors
In online classes, learners are not being judged on factors like physical appearances, age, dress, race, gender and disabilities. The entire focus and attention is on lectures, the content of discussions hence each student can concentrate and intelligently contribute to the material provided.
Weaknesses of online learning
1. Economic Reasons
All learners belong to varied socioeconomic background, many do not have access to the facility of internet and other technology, maybe because of economic or logistic reasons, this might exclude such otherwise eligible students from the course. Furthermore, if the individual is not having a minimum level of computer literacy, individual is lost as a customer.They should be able to use the various search engine, customer familiar with procedures,file transfer protocol and mailing etc.
It takes forced self-disciple for any individual to avail the benefits of online learning. Those who remain unengaged can be a challenge as they cannot be monitored.
3. Teachers Aptitude
It is not necessary for instructor providing on-ground instructions to communicate in a similar effective way on the virtual platform. The online courses will be weekend if the facilitator is not adequately prepared to perform in the virtual classroom. Teacher has to be more interactive and must be able to compensate for the lack of physical presence.
In the present scenario, amidst Covid-19, online classes were ushered to avert impact of closed schools and colleges. But, the curriculum has not been altered till yet to suit the virtual classroom. Whereas the curriculum of any online classes has to be meticulously considered and developed keeping in mind the constrains of the virtual classroom. This is very important to be successful in e-learning. Traditional classroom syllabus will not have any place in an ought to be a successful online program. Education of the highest quality can be provided in e-learning provided the curriculum has been developed or converted to suit the needs of online teaching.
5. Cheating and Plagiarism
Precise methods have to be developed to prevent cheating in online assessments and exams as students are sitting in isolation without being monitored. Also, they have access to the computer, so the essays, content and assignments can be easily plagiarized.
Online learning cannot cope up with the hundreds of students trying to participate in the discussion. Still, a lot of technologically guided work has to be done to abstract the imperfections of e-learning.
In today’s time of technology, online learning can cater to the needs of adult learners who want to continue education as online courses offer perfect solutions to the conflicts faced with work, family and other responsibilities. While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners.
E-learning should be taken as a supplement or add on extension to traditional physical classes for dependent learners. Online classes cannot supersede the personal contact with the teacher and the human relations that develop in physical group discussions but can be used to serve a specific section of the population looking for higher education.
By Rashmi Sharma
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