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NewsCoronavirus and the Future of Distance Learning

Coronavirus and the Future of Distance Learning

Educational institutions of all levels have been closed in most countries due to coronavirus. Instead, in order not to cause large disruptions to the educational system, schools, colleges and universities around the world have opted for online learning methods. Attending classes from the comfort of your home may seem idealistic, however, it has had some pretty controversial responses from students. Some believe that distance learning could create a large digital divide between students, while many see online classes as unworthy of their tuition fees.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has caused major changes in the way people go about their daily activities, study, work, or travel. The virus is threatening our health and, as a result, preventing it from spreading is of absolute necessity. Many countries have imposed travel restrictions and border controls in order to avoid the possible transmission of the virus. The coronavirus pandemic is currently a major concern worldwide and as so, it is being dealt with by the authorities.

The outbreak has forced educational institutions to halt in-person learning, many companies are working remotely, while other businesses have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Life as we know it has currently changed and everyone keeps wondering what the impact of the virus will be after it is long gone.

Could Coronavirus Reshape Our Education System?

It had previously been expected that distance learning would become more prominent in the future. Since the coronavirus outbreak, many experts are wondering whether the future has arrived quicker than estimated. Online learning is in almost every country now. Higher education sectors are continuously working towards delivering quality online classes while also keeping up with the modules. Many international students have returned to their home countries to be with their families during the pandemic until the situation gets better and they have also been able to attend their online classes from home.

It is a given that once the current coronavirus situation ends, students and teachers all around the world will go back to the traditional, in-class, methods of teaching. Students will be able to sit in their classrooms, in front of a board, and listen to their professors. And professors will commence with the hands-on activities which they were not able to do while teaching online. While on a bigger picture everything will go back to ‘normal’ or life as we know it, the impact of the online period is expected to remain.

How Will the Impact of Online Learning Remain After the Pandemic?

These students and lecturers were once individuals who were, generally, used to attending traditional lectures. Online classes, although pretty common, were not applied in all universities, and were typically not a substitute for in-person teaching. However, while the lockdown and social distancing regulations fade, the world will have a community of students and teachers who have experienced a new milestone in their academic lives. They were able to attend classes from the comfort of their home, communicate with one another on a digital basis, and be part of an innovative period of teaching.

Many teachers, professors, and lecturers had never been part of online learning before. And online classes were a first-time experience for a majority of students as well. While the beginning might have been more challenging for both groups, it is certain that a large percentage now feels comfortable with, both, attending and interacting through online classes. Although previously teachers were reluctant when it came to online learning and technology-based classes, the possibility that they will be more inclined to it after the pandemic is quite large.

What Does the Future of Distance Learning Depend On?

The future of the education system is dependent on lecturers and students, among other external factors. It is true that distance learning is a lot easier to facilitate when it comes to how easy it is to work for someone who has the necessary access to technology and the internet. However, there are groups of people who live in areas without access to the internet or who do not have the needed hardware to attend online classes. These people are directly impacted by the current situation and the class-disruptions are much more evident to them.

Implementing distance learning classes has never been easier than it will be now or after the pandemic is over. This is because students have now gotten used to the idea of online learning and embracing it in the future will be simpler. While many have been opposed to online classes due to the inability to get out of the comfort zone before, they have now successfully done so. Many teachers, and even students, believe that distance learning will never equal traditional or conventional learning. However, it is crucial for teachers and students to recognize the objectives of the course and ensure that the class is attended and delivered through unmatched capacities.

Which Are the Advantages of Distance Learning?

Distance learning has numerous advantages starting from the comfort it provides and all the way to its flexibility. Let’s go through some of the advantages below:

  • A comfortable study environment. Home is typically known to be a comfortable environment to be in and that is why attending your classes online would surely be a lot more convenient in the comfort of your home. Regardless of where you decide your study space to be, it is simple to navigate and move around in order to ensure you have the perfect conditions to attend a class online.
  • Work/study balance and flexibility. Flexibility is one of the main advantages of online classes. Depending on what and how many classes you are taking, it is a lot simpler to balance work and study. Besides, many students have to deal with commuting, which makes attending classes online a lot simpler than having to go all the way to campus.
  • Lower costs in comparison to traditional classes. Online classes tend to be more affordable in the sense that you will save the money you were supposed to spend on commuting or buying textbooks, among others. Online courses usually provide students with the necessary learning materials which can be found online free of charge.
  • Interaction opportunities to all groups of students. While in traditional classes, the students who are typically more interactive are those who find it easier to talk in front of the class, while the shy ones hesitate to interact. Well, through online learning platforms, all students have the possibility of interacting as a result of the chat/sound/video formats that the platforms have. Shy students can communicate through texting, which in most cases tends to be easier for students.

Which Are the Disadvantages of Distance Learning?

Although distance learning might be packed with advantages, it surely has its own drawbacks. Some of them are listed below:

  • Lack of digital devices. A lack of the necessary hardware and internet connection can be an issue for many students who live in secluded areas or who are facing financial difficulties. Although the internet is all around us nowadays, not everyone has access to it. And, if distance learning requires the use of the latest technology, then this can be a problem for a large number of students.
  • Lack of interpersonal communication. Distance learning or online learning might ensure that each student, shy or not, has the opportunity to speak. However, there is an evident lack of interpersonal communication, which could lead to numerous misunderstandings. Many students rely on the interpersonal skills they learn while attending lectures to succeed in a career that requires verbal communication skills.
  • Lack of practical application of knowledge. Right now, many classes that require practical application of knowledge and access to labs have been postponed and are not being held on an online basis. In some instances, campuses have remained open for those who need to attend such courses, in order to avoid disruptions or students falling behind. It is currently uncertain how laboratory-based classes could function fully online.
  • Lack of monitored assessment. During the coronavirus pandemic, assessment has become a universal issue when it comes to distance learning. Universities want to find a way to monitor students while taking exams, but this is difficult to do when all students are hidden behind screens. As a result, many students are struggling to hold online exams.

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