Covid-19 has forced everyone to adapt to living, working and learning remotely. As we come upon a year since the pandemic started, the majority of us are still isolating ourselves at home. It wasn’t easy at first, but schools, businesses and regular people have adapted to this new way of living.
Education is one sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic not allowing children and students to actually go into school. Educational institutes have had to act fast and take their curriculum online and make it video call friendly. Considering the valuable nature of in-person learning, especially at a young age, it is unlikely this way of learning will ever be as good as in-person.
University students in particular, have been vocal as to the drastic effect this is having on their education. Students around the world are questioning why they are paying tens of thousands of pounds a year for online video classes. While it is unlikely that universities will refund them any money, at least there was some resolution, rather than cancelling school for a year and a half.
While studying online is frustrating for most and does have many cons, it does have some positives. Let’s take a look at some to see if studying online really is that bad.
Gone are the days of having to wake up three hours early in order to eat, get ready and actually transport yourself to a physical location to learn. Now, you can wake up 5 minutes before the start of your lecture, roll out of bed and log on to the video class. Is this conducive to successfully consuming the knowledge you need to achieve a good grade, no, but is it convenient, yes!
Imagine a world where you could attend any school you wanted without actually being in that country. While it may weaken the degree and flip the whole educational business model on its head, it is a real possibility. Having all that spare time you would otherwise be commuting or getting ready gives additional flexibility to learn when and how you want.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that pupils will be less engaged and less likely to retain information from an online class rather than actually being there in person and interacting with the teacher or professor. When considering studying online, surely this should be one of the most important aspects. If students aren’t learning as effectively by studying online, then the other pros would have to be pretty amazing to convince schools or universities to keep it around for the long term.
Should some form of online studying remain after Covid is long gone, it would allow students from different countries a chance to attend a certain school that they would otherwise not be able to. Students from certain backgrounds or areas that might not have been able to afford the living or travel costs can now attend a school that has a better chance of propelling them to greatness. It breaks down societal barriers that have been slowly implemented overtime to keep the class structure intact.
Students will have next to no social interaction while studying online. If we ignore life outside of school for a minute, there are lots of valuable life lessons that are learnt in the classroom by socialising with your peers. Being forced to interact and work with pupils who you might not know so well, or debate and argue your points with students that think differently is imperative for development. Similarly, the general mental health aspect of social interaction needs to be considered. How will students make friends? Will our children become more distant than they already are?
It’s important to point out that some courses and branches of education are just not fully possible with online studying. A vast number of courses require hands-on experience. Medical courses, physical education courses and teaching are just some of the areas that are not optimised for online studying.
As we continue to go down the rabbit hole of online studying while Covid carries on, it’s important to weigh up the opposing arguments as there is no doubt that online studying will continue to be more prevalent in our education system going forward. While it does have some obvious drawbacks in terms of actual learning ability and social interaction, it does have some positives. It increases flexibility and opens up educational as a whole to completely transform and welcome a global network of students. Similarly, it increases accessibility, allowing poorer students or those from difficult backgrounds the opportunity to attend a good university without worrying about added costs.