The global pandemic of COVID-19 has managed to disrupt multiple industries across the globe. However, one particular sector that has suffered the most, and continues to suffer as we live through this pandemic, is the Education Industry. Most of the world has gone into multiple lockdowns over this past year, and that has left many classrooms looking like wastelands across the globe.
An estimate suggests that almost 1.2 billion children across the globe have suffered due to multiple school closures. During this time, children worldwide have continued to receive their curricular education through online means. Google meet and Zoom meetings have replaced physical classrooms.
The pandemic has had such drastic effects on the educational grounds everywhere that a new education industry – the online education industry – has come to surface with all its might. It isn’t certain as to how and when the pandemic will take its next turn. However, one certain thing is that online education has become the new norm, and it seems like it is here to stay.
The Response of the Education Sector to the Global Pandemic
The education industry has had to adapt fiercely to keep up with the changing trends due to the pandemic. There may never have been a time in the past where the educational sector would have had to endure so many changes at once.
The biggest adaptation that the educational sector has had to embrace is the shift to online learning modalities. Schools around the world have shifted to online meeting applications to deliver their lectures. The curriculum, assignments, examinations, and other related curricular activities are now conducted through online learning modules. Schools and colleges have heavily invested in new technologies that allow for a smooth and effortless online teaching experience. Educational institutes have also developed online courses aside from the regular curriculum for students to enhance their learning.
Many educational institutes have teamed up with local broadcasting networks to gain the upper hand in the race to adaptation. Local education broadcasting offers several channels with educational content for different age groups and on various subjects.
However, it’s not just the educational institutes that have changed drastically due to the growing pandemic. Tech companies have seen this opportunity to expand their operations exponentially. BYJU’s, Tencent classrooms, and other education-technology invested companies have started providing free access to their online learning solutions. Other similar companies have created online hubs that serve as an all-in-one stop-shop for educational institutes, offering features like live classrooms, discussion panels, translation tools, calendar scheduling, and document co-editing on the same platform.
It’s not just the educational part of the whole industry that has changed drastically. Co-curricular activities form a major part of any school’s academic acumen and a student’s academic life. Due to the global pandemic, educational institutes have shifted all their extra-curricular activities online, including the major events in a student’s life, such as graduation parties.
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Are Online Classrooms As Effective as Traditional Classrooms?
There is a growing debate around the world concerning the capabilities of online classrooms. Although online learning has allowed many students across the globe to continue their education despite the ongoing pandemic, not everyone is convinced of the potential of an online learning experience.
Many educationalists, scholars, and even parents are worried that the online teaching experience might just be robbing students of their golden years of education. The criticism states that online learning does not offer as hands-on an experience as on-campus learning would. Teachers are worried about the interactive capabilities of an online learning environment, given that it’s hard to keep track of what everyone’s doing during a class when you can’t even see them. It’s also difficult to engage students in meaningful discussions online unless they want to do it themselves. Parents complain that their kids don’t pay enough attention during online classes because now they can just mute their mics and sit back until the class ends.
Some of the Biggest Challenges of an Online Classroom are as Follows:
· Multiple distractions everywhere
· A lack of motivation when no one’s around
· Technical issues – hardware and internet complications
· A thinned out social structure
· Students being left behind due to a lack of interaction
All this criticism stems from genuine concerns about online education as a viable teaching modality. There are a few limitations in the online world that just can’t be overcome – at least not with current technology. However, it’s not all just bad news. Online learning has many things to offer that traditional learning could never.
With online learning, students have a much flexible schedule. For the most part, students get to choose their hours of study. Online education follows a very flexible model of “self-paced learning.” This self-driven learning experience offers every student greater control over their educational lives – something that traditional classrooms seem to take away. Research has shown that the online teaching modalities have proven to reduce classroom-related stress and anxiety disorders in many students. Being in a safe space, in the comfort of their own homes, students can participate in teaching activities and lectures much more effectively.
Online teaching also carries the benefit of teaching self-discipline and motivation to students. By giving students control and independence over their education, they are motivated to strive even more than before. Holding yourself accountable is an excellent skill that online teaching imparts to students.
The Future of Learning
It isn’t clear what model of learning would prevail in a post-COVID world. While carrying its innumerable benefits, traditional learning wouldn’t be the most popular choice – contrary to popular belief. This is because the pandemic generation has adapted well to the online classrooms, and it would be hard for them to go back to the traditional way of learning so quickly. On the other hand, online learning in its current form isn’t nearly adequate to replace traditional learning completely.
Experts predict that moving forward, online and traditional education models would merge to create a new learning experience, called the hybrid education model. A hybrid education model takes the best out of both traditional, on-campus learning and online learning and merges them to form a solution that seems to work for most people. Students get to engage in on-campus social groups that play an important role in their development while staying on top of their education by having a flexible and malleable schedule at hand.
The future of learning lies for the most part in the hands of the ongoing pandemic. It isn’t certain when the pandemic will end. However, one certain thing is that the education industry will continue to suffer minor blows now and then, coupled with some major disruptions, until the situation clears a little.
Many believe that jumping into the world of online teaching with the current tools would be foolish. They believe that this rapid and unplanned move would cause excessive chaos and disturb the educational experience for a whole generation. However, some believe that online education would become the only sustainable model of education moving forward.
Hybrid education models have also shown immense promise, and many have predicted that these models are here to stay. The reason behind this speculation is that in this age and day of technology, it would be almost impossible to go back to the days of whiteboards and markers when computers allow us to do so much more.