The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 facilitates a comprehensive range of unprecedented safety measures and social isolation. As a result of the pandemic, the education sector witnessed significant changes. Schools and universities were forced to adopt alternative technologies and teaching methods overnight as their doors closed indefinitely throughout the pandemic. Digital or online learning became a necessity instead of an option. While in many countries, including India, schools were preparing to open their doors and welcome in-person learning, the onslaught of Omicron dampened those plans. It compelled the education sector to put their plans of opening their doors on the back burner.
However, the sudden shift from in-person learning to virtual classrooms is expected to continue post-pandemic. Read along to know how virtual learning has impacted the worldwide education sector.
The Acceleration Of Virtual Learning In The Education Sector
Virtual learning had been around before the pandemic in the higher education experience. But it was never seen to an all-encompassing extent as witnessed during the pandemic. Teachers and the Sri Sri Academy Siliguri staff were compelled to familiarize themselves with the nuances of digital learning and become an expert at navigating online platforms overnight. The teaching staff had shown a lot of courage, grit and dedication when delivering the entire academic courses on a completely remote basis.
Fortunately, Google and other online platforms quickly innovated to help teachers meet this new demand. These platforms incorporated video-conferencing and other such functions into their Classroom service.
Before the pandemic, many educational institutions offered students the option of virtual learning as a part of their offerings. However, digital learning was seen as a bonus and not a part of mainstream education. Primarily, virtual learning attracted foreign students or part-time students in universities seeking flexible learning arrangements. Without a doubt, the pandemic is a turning point in the overall education sector, and the prospects of students returning to campus for solely in-person learning are highly unlikely.
Industry insiders suggest that the disruption in education and the shift from the norm was much-needed, even though it arrived under unexpected and undesirable circumstances. Overall, the education sector has always been deemed a sector that was never quick to adopt technologies, which changed almost overnight.
However, the focus on digital learning doesn’t mean that the conventional classroom teaching style is forever gone. But there are several pros and cons to digital or remote learning that have been discovered by researchers, such as:
- One of the positive outcomes of digital learning is encouraging students to learn at their own pace and independently. Moreover, digital learning allows teachers to give extra attention to those learners who struggle more than the rest. While teaching a class of 40+ students makes it hard to provide individual attention, teachers can focus on the needs of learners better in a virtual classroom.
- One of the potential drawbacks of virtual learning is that students face severe obstacles when it comes to learning from other students’ contributions and interacting with them.
So, there are mixed feelings about going fully digital for learning. Most educators suggest a hybrid model of teaching when the pandemic is over because a mixture of both online and offline teaching seems to be attractive for teachers and students.
The Rapid Adoption Of Education Technology
Before the pandemic, the education sector saw high adoption and growth in education technology. The worldwide edtech investments had reached 18.66 billion USD in 2019, and the market for online education was projected to reach 350 billion USD by 2025.
However, since the pandemic, there has been a huge surge in various educational technologies and apps, including video conferencing tools, virtual tutoring apps and tools, language applications and online learning software. More and more CBSE schools in Siliguri, West Bengal adopted such technologies and apps to make it easier for teachers to impart education. It even helped students in staying on track with their curriculum.
From imparting education to handling coursework and taking exams, schools adopted technologies for seamlessly going through all the processes.
How Effective Is Digital Learning?
Online learning can be quite effective if teachers and students access the right technology. Research shows that students can retain twenty to sixty percent of what’s taught during an online class. Also, e-learning requires forty to sixty percent less time than traditional teaching.
With that said, the effectiveness of virtual learning varies among different age groups. For instance, younger children require a more structured learning environment because kids get distracted easily. To ensure that children are getting the full benefit of digital learning, there must be a concerted effort to provide some structure virtually.
Are There Any Challenges To Learning Online?
Of course, one needs to overcome a few e-learning challenges. For example, students who don’t have access to reliable technology or the Internet will struggle to partake in the digital learning experience. Students and teachers need the proper equipment to ensure the seamless impartation of digital education.
So, What Does This Mean For The Future Of Education?
There are mixed feelings when it comes to the future of online education. Some believe that rapidly moving to digital learning without proper training and insufficient bandwidth will result in a poor user experience. It will not be conducive to sustainable growth. Others believe that the ground is set for the emergence of a hybrid educational model that will accelerate online education and make it an important part of school education.
Whether schools will adopt a hybrid education model or continue focusing on e-learning is yet to be seen. However, the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of education and how learning will never stop. Schools and the teaching staff will always find new ways to accommodate education and ensure that learning is never impeded. Until schools are allowed to open and function fully, the answer to education is to adopt superior technology and apps. Also, the concerted efforts of both parents and teachers in ensuring there’s a structure in virtual classrooms.