We are living in irregular times right now. The majority of the world’s population has been stuck at home for many weeks with many people, including students, facing quarantine challenges daily. The coronavirus has caused not only health and economic crisis but also educational uncertainty that pushed educational institutions across the globe to shift toward digital learning. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all governments have suspended entirely face-to-face classes and replace them with online learning as part of efforts to deal with the fast-spreading coronavirus.
But before anything else, let us have some background about online learning. It is education that takes place over the Internet. It is also known as e-learning for others. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” – which is the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.
Many educators have advocated distance learning, or online learning, as the best response, and most practical, to pursue education amidst this pandemic situation. Yet, this is easier said than done. There are pros and cons to online learning.
So, what are the benefits of online classes? With online classes or online course, they have the freedom to work at the time and place that best suits them. One student said, “Online class works for me. I feel more relaxed. I can even listen to lectures while eating food, and have not yet taken a bath.” Some say that it is more flexible and financially efficient because students save money on transport fares or motorbike gasoline. Accordingly, online lectures save money, time and energy.
As there are benefits, there are also challenges of online classes. Although more and more of the population have already access to the internet, but of those who do, many cannot afford unlimited and stable and speedy connections. One teacher said, “Learning was interrupted several times because of a bad connection.” Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda told the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) that, “Online classes are not beneficial for students now that the country is in a pandemic situation. There are two million enrolled in private schools, with almost three months of “no work no pay.” Ninety percent of parents and working students can’t pay to finish second semester,” Salceda added. “Doing education online is socially unjust because of the digital divide – no laptops or desktops, no load. It has little impact on learning transmission given slow and unstable internet or results in residual knowledge given the crisis,” the lawmaker said. According to him, it aggravates the crisis by adding expenses to the quarantined families.
Technical difficulties are obviously a barrier to the use of online courses. Instructors must often devote time to fixing technical issues and editing content can become a complex and arduous task.
As a conclusion, online learning is a complex and emerging field. Do we adopt online learning only until the pandemic lasts? Right now, both students and teachers are busy trying to adjust to online education. For many teachers, this is a new way to teach, and for many students, this is a new way to learn. Not all teachers are technologically knowledgeable, and not all students have stable internet connection.
Most students are undergoing adjustments in recent events of this pandemic. Others cannot help but feels stress anxiety over things that are uncertain and uncontrollable. Some have families that have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak where their livelihood and day-to-day subsistence are a problem.
Educators need to shift from ‘a teaching-centred paradigm toward a learning-centered paradigm’, in order to appeal to new students and maintain a critical technological edge in a competitive marketplace.