Online education or distance learning is a fairly new paradigm in the way students and educators approach learning. This is somewhat shocking since alternatives to on-campus education have been present almost since the 70s. Modern cable services like Spectrum TV only added more avenues with educational programs and interactive TV. The digital world makes distance learning even more intuitive, inclusive, and accessible.
But still, it is only an unprecedented global health crisis that has forced schools and universities to turn to online education or suspend curriculums altogether. This persistence to stick to conventional learning models may have cost us several years in improving and streamlining e-education for better learning experiences. This means that e-learning as it currently is in the United States may come with distinct advantages to education, but may also carry significant risks in several key ways. This blog will compare the positives and negatives of online education. Read on to find out more.
How E-Learning Can Enhance Education Experiences
The fact that online education systems are widely being used today is not a random occurrence. Human nature dictates our tendency to discard things that don’t work, and that applies to learning platforms as well. Google and similar technology companies already had digital classrooms and assignment/grade management systems in place. Most educational institutions already use Management Information Systems and have been doing so for more than a decade. So we know that all the key ingredients to make digital learning work are already present. It is simply a matter of extrapolating this digital paradigm, particularly with these key advantages to learning:
The single biggest advantage of using digital learning platforms is the ability to access them from just about anywhere with an internet connection. Whether you’re at home, in the office, or on the go, you can seamlessly connect to these platforms and access educational resources with ease. To fully leverage the benefits of digital learning, reliable and high-speed internet connectivity is essential. This is where Spectrum internet packages come into play. With a variety of packages catering to different needs and budgets, Spectrum offers fast and stable internet connections that ensure uninterrupted access to digital learning materials. Given how internet providers in the US have some of the highest market-penetration rates in the world, the internet is more accessible to people today than at any point in the past. That means students can continue their education from the safety of isolation without unnecessary exposure to people who might be carrying COVID-19.
Access To Resources At Any Time
The second most distinct advantage to digital learning is the 24/7 accessibility to learning resources and class material. Interactive lectures can be recorded and accessed even after campus hours. Digital libraries ensure students have complete access to approved research material and reference reading. Constant access to class schedules, assignments, and tests ensures students don’t have to worry about gaps in their learning because they missed an online lecture for any reason.
Improve Communication Abilities
Improved social interactions are a very unique feature of the digital world. In fact, one of the reasons internet popularity boomed in the 00s and early 2010s was access to social platforms. Social interaction is a basic human need, and one of the many benefits of education is to teach students the best and most appropriate ways to socialize and interact in various situations. Contrary to belief, the forced shift to distance learning hasn’t cut students off completely from the classroom experience. Students are still able to engage and communicate with each other through private channels. They can offer assistance to each other, and also communicate in class with improved visibility putlockers.
Enable Learning-Focused Conversations
Speaking of social interactions, many digital learning platforms feature the equivalent of a common room for students to engage outside of the “classroom”. These common rooms or lobbies don’t need to be a simple space for students to wait in between lectures. Many feature bulletin boards that can be used to offer fun projects, competitions, and other activities that help build conversations around learning.
How E-Learning Can Impair Education Experiences
Of course, like anything else, current digital learning comes with a flip side. Since educators never seriously considered a contingency where they may have to move education completely online, certain limitations still need to be addressed. These include the following:
Many Students Lack Access to High-Speed Internet
Distance learning is certainly accessible, but the access to reliable high-speed internet may not always be equitable. Many students belonging to vulnerable or low-income communities may not have access to the speeds and bandwidth necessary for a rich learning experience. As such, the forced shift to e-learning may prove to exclude some of the most vulnerable students, further limiting their ability to acquire better education and employability.
Educators and Learners May Have Gaps in Computer Literacy
Despite computers being around since the 90s, it is optimistic to assume every person alive today is familiar with them. Older educators, in particular, often struggle with the new way of learning. They may have trouble familiarizing themselves with different learning platforms and their features. This can often lead to a disruptive learning experience, impacting both the educator and the learner. On the other hand, many younger students may not be used to digital learning either and may face many similar problems.
Current Learning Technology is Still Limited
Other than the limitations of internet access and computer literacy, digital learning platforms are themselves fairly new. That makes it near-certain that they will have several iterations before the most efficient and streamlined versions emerge. Until then, they are plagued by the usual technology problems like patchy internet access, bugs, server errors, and software crashes. This can often prove to be severely disruptive in an already unfamiliar learning experience.
The Way Forward In The New Normal
We live in exciting times, and our ability to adapt and survive continues to serve us hundreds of generations since our earliest ancestors. Modern digital technology has proven to be a lifeline in this unprecedented global health crisis, offering governments, businesses, and educators a way to remain functional. Even more importantly, our technology itself contains the ability to improve and adapt. As time progresses, digital learning platforms will only continue to get better and more efficient. In time, even if the pandemic completely dies out, digital education may soon become a core part of modern learning, if not the primary medium. Prudence dictates that we need to consider the possibility of COVID-19 being a permanent feature of our lives for the foreseeable future. Leveraging digital learning technology and addressing its limitations is one of the few ways forward.