Learning Rebooted Online Education During Covid 19

While online learning has always been around, its large scale implementation has never been as important as it is now. The COVID-19 pandemic has shook the entire world, bringing nearly all functions of the society to a halt. Teachers and educators all across the US and beyond are working hard to keep the education system running.

The closure of schools was a vital step to curb the spread of the virus. The areas that closed down schools promptly have had an overall better control over the spread of COVID-19, especially in younger children. However, it is difficult to measure the specific impact of school closures, since a lockdown typically clamps down on all kinds of social gatherings.

Let’s take a look at the overall situation in the education sector during lockdown, how various educational institutes are coping with it, and suggestions for online formats to adopt.

Schools, Universities and COVID-19

Efforts to curb the effects of the rampant coronavirus, COVID-19 through preventive measures such as social distancing and self-isolation have resulted in large scale closures of educational institutes. According to a recent UNESCO report, more than 91% of the world’s student population is affected by school closures as a result of the pandemic.

Some countries have chosen a nationwide school lockdown approach, while others have gone for localized closures. In the US, the vast majority of states have closed down schools, until the end of the academic year. There are several states, however, that have not mandated school closures but have recommended it.

Consequences of School Closures

Closing down of schools carries a high economic and social cost for people at all educational levels. The impact is most severe for the marginalized children and their families. Let’s take a look at some of the effects of schools in lockdown:

  • Interrupted Learning: Closing down schools has deprived students across the world of learning opportunities and growth. The under-privileged learners are at a greater disadvantage, since they have fewer learning opportunities outside of school.
  • Decreased Nutrition: Many students rely on the standardized, discounted meals received from school cafeterias for a healthy and nutritious diet. With schools shutting down, their nutrition is strongly affected.
  • Confusion and Stress: The coronavirus pandemic has created a state of confusion and stress for both, teachers and students. Educational institutes closed down within a matter of weeks, without any intimation about the duration they would be closed for. This has resulted in some level of panic among the teachers, who are afraid to lose their connection with the students. In addition to that, distance learning methods are relatively new, so they tend to cause frustration among students and teachers trying to learn to use them.
  • Unprepared Parents: With students now spending a majority of their time at home, parents are not prepared to take on the difficult task of homeschooling for a long time. The situation is much worse for parents who have limited resources and education themselves.
  • Overwhelmed Distance Learning Portals: The demand for distance learning has increased tremendously in the past few months, as the coronavirus continues to ravage economies across the globe. Due to this, the existing distance learning portals and internet service providers are already overwhelmed.

Online Learning Solutions

Luckily, in this age of advancement, students and teachers have access to numerous study solutions. Let’s take a look at a few of these options:

Psychosocial Support

The WHO provides several resources to help teachers deal with this situation, including comprehensive guides on ‘how teachers should talk to children about COVID-19’ and ‘how parents and caregivers can talk to children about COVID-19’.

Digital Learning Management Systems

Systems such as Zoom, Edmodo, Moodle and ClassDojo have increased in demand. They provide a platform for students and teachers to connect and build classroom communities, along with comprehensive collections of learning resources.

Learning on Mobile Phones

There are countless systems with online and offline learning options that can be accessed through mobile phones. These include the likes of Cell-Ed, Funzi, Ubongo and Eneza Education etc.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Platforms

Various MOOC platforms offer courses from experts and instructors from well-recognized universities and companies. Examples include platforms such as Coursera, EdX, Udemy, Canvas and Future Learn.

Self-Directed Learning Content

These include study options from ABRA, British Council, Code Week, Discovery Education, YouTube, Mindspark and Duolingo, among others. These programs help students learn though online courses, game-like activities and other kid-friendly materials.

Tools for Teachers to Produce Online Content

Various online tools help teachers create educational content online. These include tools that help create interactive images, videos, media-rich lessons and presentations etc. Several such tools also help teachers plan out courses easily and organize their online classrooms. Examples of such tools include Squigl, Trello, Zoom, EdPuzzle, Thinglink and Buncee.

The Up-Side of Learning Online

Even though there is no replacement for direct human interaction, online classes have their benefits as well. Let’s examine a few up-sides of moving to online learning forums.

Online courses promote a greater degree of motivation and self-discipline, as compared to a classroom-based course. Students are required to manage their schedules themselves and create an environment conducive to learning. In addition to that, online learning is relatively more relaxed and can easily be completed from home. This results in a positive impact on attendance as well.

In addition to that, many have argued about the traditional education system losing its relevance in recent years. Online learning has long been a hope for rejuvenating a system that focused on critical thinking and adaptability.

As students move to higher classes, they usually seek to have more autonomy in the education process. Online classes can help them follow their own customized learning programs. Many universities across the country offer students the option to create their individualized study plans, allowing weekend and night classes as well.

Many universities offer cost-effective online learning programs. This is mainly due to the fact that online classrooms do not require physical space and accommodation in hostels. This results in a less-costly option for students, which is certainly the need of the hour in these unprecedented times.

As the uncertainty grows around people’s incomes, people are rushing for low-cost options. And online education can provide some relief in this regard. In times of COVID-19, the universities which stand to benefit the most are those who are offering both - low-cost online study options and robust campus study plans, for when, and if, students wish to switch back to the traditional study format.

With uncertainty surrounding the future of traditional education, many major universities are likely to invest more finances into building robust online education systems. The longer this social distancing continues, the more resources universities are expected to pour into developing their online systems, since they will have no choice.

Tips for Acing Online Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic

The following tips can assist both teachers and students in making the most of online learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Make sure you check all your equipment and services, such as your internet, camera and laptop before class
  • Collect email addresses of all the students and teachers to be able to communicate efficiently
  • Make instructions as clear and comprehensive as possible to ensure smooth learning
  • Participate fully in online lectures to derive maximum benefits from the sessions
  • Make online study groups to facilitate the learning process
  • Take feedback from students or teachers positively and try to learn from it
  • Maintain classroom decorum, but don’t make things too formal
  • Don’t miss a class without a genuinely valid concern
  • Be sure to talk to the teacher or students about any COVID-19 related concerns, including any psychological, monetary or sociological issues.

Post Your Comments

* All Fields are Required