Online learning began a few decades ago when people’s access to the internet has become more normal and stable. It was advertised as a way for mid-career workers to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in their chosen field. It allows working students to juggle work and school. It is a convenient method of learning for those who cannot attend face-to-face classes, but it was not meant for preschoolers, high school students, and college students who have the option to attend a physical school.
But alas, the coronavirus pandemic has other things in mind. With the announcement of a global pandemic in March, schools needed to shut down. They pulled the plug on face-to-face classes. Teachers and students have to make do with virtual learning, regardless of how ill-equipped they are for it. Schools and other educational institutions have to hire a professional webpage designer who can create interactive websites for better learning opportunities.
As the months passed and there was no clear end to the pandemic, the teachers and students began to adjust to this new norm. Even the top schools, which have rigid curriculums, learned to adjust the advancement of their teachings online. With online tools readily made available, schools somehow learned to respond to the changing needs of the academe.
The real question, however, is if online learning is sustainable for students, parents, and the academe? Do students learn from their classes? How are they affected by the lack of face-to-face interactions with their teachers and classmates?
Students Learn More in Online Classes
The common misconception is that students don’t learn much from online classes. Some said that students attend online classes only to fulfill course requirements and finish a grade level. They are not motivated to attend these classes because they want to learn new concepts, theories, and ideas. But research showed this isn’t the case.
Today’s students are fast learners. Allowing them to do advanced reading and work at their own speed is surreptitiously making them learn more. They work faster by themselves because they are not controlled by the speed by which their instructors teach these lessons. In some cases that they need more guidance, they can turn to their teachers for more information.
Higher Retention Rates in Students
Offline courses, especially in college, struggle to keep students because the classes clash with their other commitments. Some students don’t go to class regularly; only showing up when they’re on the verge of getting kicked out. This isn’t true in online learning because students can log on to the virtual classroom no matter where they are. If the class offers asynchronous learning, they can even learn the course without having to attend an online class regularly.
The result is that the retention rates of online classes are higher than in traditional classes. Whereas in traditional classes the retention rate is only at 25%, online classes can retain as much as 60% of their students. Putting the power to learn in the students’ hands is making them want to learn more and better.
Requires Less Time Investment
In a traditional setup, students have to shower, eat, and walk or commute to class. There’s a lot of activities involved in preparing for face-to-face classes that do not contribute to the actual learning. Studies showed that online learning requires 40% to 60% less preparation time. Students are free to attend more online courses if they do not have to wake up an hour earlier to attend one class.
They can spend this extra time reading modules or doing other activities that will contribute to their well-being. They can even spend that extra hour sleeping and it would still be advantageous for them. Having a well-rested mind will help them focus more on their classes once they start.
Technology Is Only Going to Get Better
There is no way technology will be left out by online learning. It is only going to get better. While there are a lot of issues in virtual learning today, technology will keep up to resolve these issues. If there’s a problem with the internet connection, networks will find a way around that in the future. If your noise reduction headphones are not working as they should, manufacturers will surely develop better and cheaper ones. More, many of these devices will be more affordable in the future as online learning becomes the new norm.
Face-to-face classes are still the standard of learning. Nothing will ever come close to the ability of the teachers and students to interact in person. Online learning isn’t bad at all. It’s not the ineffective and unsustainable method of learning others make it out to be. It’s still a world’s away from face-to-face classes but with technology and adaptability, it will get there, too.