Is Online Education the Future Post-Covid-19?
Online learning has grown in popularity in recent years, but the use of online learning platforms increased exponentially in 2020. As colleges, schools and universities were unable to hold classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online classes were held instead.
For the first time, students from kindergarten right through to post-graduates were being taught online as standard. Despite initial teething problems associated with the fast rollout of services, there has been widespread support for the change.
Now that lockdown restrictions are being eased and educational institutions can once again open their doors, many are wondering whether online learning will continue in a post-COVID-19 world.
How Does Online Learning Work?
Online learning can take many forms, which is one of the reasons why it works so well across the entire student body. From live, interactive, teacher-led classes to the delivery of assignments and paper-based tasks, secure online platforms can be used to deliver a variety of educational programs.
Schools and colleges simply need to assign a login ID and password to each student, so that they’re able to access the relevant platforms and materials. While educational institutions are free to create their own online education platforms, the vast majority use pre-built, white label platforms. Designed by EdTech developers, these platforms are customizable to suit the needs of each individual school and/or student.
What Are the Advantages of Online Education?
Online learning offers many advantages, particularly in comparison to standard, face-to-face teaching environments. For undergraduates and post-grads, the benefits of an online education are even more pronounced. To get a better understanding of why online education may well become the norm in a post-COVID era, take a look at some of the benefits it offers now:
1. Flexible Schedules
Online learning typically offers more flexibility than standard programs. Students have the opportunity to set their own schedules, particularly if classes are made available to download at the student’s request.
For older students, this can be particularly beneficial. Many postgraduate students combine their studies with working full-time and raising a family, for example. The ability to create their own schedule and study at their own pace makes obtaining a postgrad qualification a viable option for many more people.
When students are learning online, they are typically required to hone their self-motivation skills. This is something that benefits students of all ages. By teaching younger students how to motivate themselves, they can carry this lesson with them throughout their academic career. For older students, learning how to self-motivate isn’t just beneficial in an academic setting; it’s also a useful transferable skill that’s in demand in the workplace.
As many students and teachers are new to online learning, there is a necessary adjustment period to contend with. To find out how students are getting the most out of their online education, take a look at this blog post. By learning how to self-motivate and manage their time, today’s students won’t just succeed in terms of education, they will also be better equipped for their future careers.
3. Reduced Costs
Fee-paying students can significantly reduce their costs by choosing to study online, rather than on campus. As the fees for online programs can be drastically less than their traditional counterparts, it makes education far more accessible to a wider demographic. In a time when your financial status shouldn’t limit your educational choices, online learning can close the gap between socio-economic groups and ensure that everyone has an equal chance to succeed.
4. Remote Learning
Traditionally, students were required to attend a school or college that was accessible to them. Generally, this means parents choose a school that’s within a commutable distance for their children, while older students often relocate in order to attend college or university.
With online education, however, students are no longer limited by geography. Whether you’ve got a child in full-time education, you’re pursuing an undergraduate degree, or you want to enhance your career prospects with a postgraduate qualification, online learning enables you to enroll in programs offered by schools and colleges all over the world.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Online Learning?
In 2020, online education was rolled out fairly quickly in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Understandably, this meant that there were some teething problems in some areas. Some schools took longer than others to launch online platforms, for example, which prevented students from beginning classes as quickly as they might have liked.
However, one of the main drawbacks associated with online learning is ensuring that all students have access to the hardware they need and internet connectivity. When socio-economic factors may prevent students from accessing the tools that they need to complete their education, this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.
Although some students have been unable to access key materials due to a lack of technology at home, this is unlikely to be an on-going problem. As funds are being introduced to ensure students can access the hardware they need, the introduction of long-term online education is likely to see similar programs being introduced across the country.
Will Online Education Continue in the Future?
Although many schools and colleges are now re-opening, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a constant threat. With fears of a second wave, many educational institutions are choosing to continue with online learning or are combining online and classroom-based learning to deliver blended courses. With the pandemic unlikely to be fully resolved any time soon, we can expect online education to be prevalent throughout 2021.
In the longer term, online learning appears to be on the rise. While many colleges were already offering online post-grad courses, the shift towards e-learning across the entire student body is likely to see more online learning in elementary schools, high schools and in undergraduate programs.
As internet speeds get even faster and EdTech becomes more advanced, the potential for personalized learning continues to grow. While teachers and students may take some time adjust to this new learning environment, the benefits of online education make it an inevitable, and welcome, part of our future.