Campuses have been shut down due to the Coronavirus and as a result of this, classes have shifted to online learning, otherwise known as e-learning or virtual learning. This can be an issue for some, but not a big deal for others depending on how people learn.
Many things can be taken into account when discussing online learning such as the home environment, the space to work, internet connection, and even the interaction in classes.
The home environment is one of the biggest things to look at when discussing online learning because each household is different. If a home environment is unhealthy and unmotivating, a student is less likely to succeed in class or even want to attend at all.
The space to work should come to mind when talking about e-learning because due to the pandemic, many people are cramped up in their homes or apartments and parents and their kids may have trouble coexisting with work meetings on one side of the dinner table and Zoom classes on the other end.
Unfortunately, good internet connection is not a luxury many people have and that leaves a gap between the families who can afford fast internet and the families who are barely getting by with any internet connection.
A Harvard Business review article states, “Online education, however, amplifies the digital divide. Rich students have the latest laptops, better bandwidths, more stable wifi connections, and more sophisticated audio-visual gadgets.”
This can take a toll on not only the student feeling left out in comparison to their peers, but not feeling like they understand what’s going on.
Finally, interaction in classes is crucial to a learning environment and online learning cannot force a student to engage if they don’t want to. It’s as easy as shutting the computer off, making up excuses about the connection, or simply saying they don’t know what happened.
This has not been an easy shift for most students, mainly Elementary and Middle school classes because they aren’t as online-ready as college students. Students in elementary and middle school still use workbooks and textbooks, whereas college students have many things to do online whether or not they are enrolled in a virtual class or an in-person class.
As stated in a Harvard Business Review article, “What the Shift to Virtual Learning Could Mean for the Future of Higher Ed” by Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivastava, “The students would also have more resources at their disposal, too, because they wouldn’t have to reside and devote four full years at campuses” and that is looking at one side of the mirror.
On the other hand, it can be seen as difficult to learn for students that don’t understand the learning methods taught online or, as the article states, “The face to face setting levels have lots of differences, because students in the same class get the same delivery. Online education, however, amplifies the digital divide. Rich students have the latest laptops, better bandwidths, more stable wifi connections, and more sophisticated audio-visual gadgets.”
This also has to do with the teachers because they are shifting online to teach as well and they, just like some students, may face many challenges shifting to an all-online class.As technology advances and students and teachers surrender their social skills for online learning, different reactions are all around.
Mariam Chakchay, a college student, said, “I like virtual learning. It actually gives me a sense of freedom, and I focus so much better online.” This is one person who thinks this way because, “It makes me feel more independent, that’s the main reason I like it.”
Student Natalle Kanjou said, “I think that virtual learning is very convenient right now. I like it.”
On the other hand we can see that George Zaya, a middle school student said, “I can’t do virtual learning. I feel like I forget to do so many things and I miss being in class. I am a visual learner so this is not fun.” This shows how class level may be taken into account here.
Zaya also said, “Yeah, it seems like it would be easier, but I think it’s so hard working online.”Though we still don’t know if this is going to be a prolonged or a permanent way to educate/ get educated, we have to make due with what we have. “I hope this ends soon, I want to get back to the way it was,” said college student Catherine Ong. Unfortunately, students’ grades and teachers’ evaluations may get caught in the crossfire.