To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life would be like sugar-coating its impact on the world. From fetching groceries and essential supplies to socialising with your loved ones – routine and mundane activities have found new meaning.
Across the globe, people have been forced to improvise and find creative ways to continue with their daily lives. When the pandemic started early in 2020, many businesses, shopping malls, restaurants, and educational institutions were forced into temporary closure. The closure of schools, colleges, and universities, in particular, has had a tremendous impact on students all over the world. Globally, more than 1.5 million students are still coping with the repercussions of the pandemic. While many countries have decided to re-open educational institutions, others haven’t done so fearing a second wave of the novel coronavirus disease. With the emergence of a new strain of the virus, things don’t seem to be going back to normal anytime soon.
Online is the new normal
Just because students can’t attend regular classes, doesn’t mean their learning should stop altogether. That’s why schools and colleges throughout the world have adopted various online learning techniques to ensure educational continuity for their students. From video-based theory and practical classes to massive open online courses (MOOC) – educational institutions are using various modern techniques. This is certainly evident from the increased use of video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, etc.
The pandemic has also skyrocketed the use of online learning platforms, language apps, and virtual tutoring services. Many teachers have even begun using attractive visual aids, including animations and videos, to retain their students’ attention.
But is e-learning just a buzzword or will its popularity continue to rise even after the pandemic is over? Let’s find out.
The state of e-learning
While the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the use of e-learning techniques and tools, the industry has been growing for many years now. In fact, global investments in education technology had already climbed to $18.66 billion in 2019. Also, the online education market is estimated to be worth $350 billion by 2025. Nevertheless, while the edTech industry has been growing for a while now, the pandemic has escalated its adoption. Many reputed educational institutions have taken the plunge and transitioned to online learning. For instance, Imperial College in London, in the UK, launched an online course on the “science of coronavirus” on Coursera. Likewise, Zhejiang University used DingTalk ZJU, Alibaba’s live streaming app, to get more than 5,000 courses online in a span of two weeks.
There has also been rapid advancement in terms of e-learning tools and applications available in the market. For instance, Lark, a collaboration platform developed by ByteDance, improved its global infrastructure and features to handle the exponential rise in demand. Likewise, DingTalk deployed more than 100,000 cloud servers using Alibaba Cloud to handle the sudden influx of users. Also, the pandemic has skyrocketed the use of e-learning platforms and online tutoring services.
Today, students even have the option of using assignment services to get help with their homework and assignments. This is particularly useful considering that remote learning often makes it difficult for students to approach their teachers for every problem and query. Instead of racking their brains over a challenging college essay, students can simply use a homework essay writing service. Such services connect you with experienced and resourceful tutors who can handhold you through the process of solving complication assignment problems and questions.
How effective is online learning?
The rise of e-learning poses a few important questions about its effectiveness and overall success. To begin with, the abrupt transition from traditional classrooms to online lectures has been difficult for both teachers and students.
Many experienced teachers may not have the right training and resources to engage students in a virtual classroom. Also, they may not have the right infrastructure at home to take online classes. With the sudden arrival of the pandemic, there was no time left to impart the right technical training to teachers as well. On the other hand, students are also facing similar issues. While cellular data connectivity has significantly improved, many people in developing and under-developed countries don’t have internet access. Worse still, they may not even have a computer or smartphone at home to attend virtual classes. Also, not every student has the right environment at home that’s conducive to learning. Children in abusive households are particularly at risk of losing interest in their studies and eventually, dropping out.
Moreover, online learning also poses the risk of students becoming passive learners. Unlike traditional classrooms, teachers can’t always give personalised attention to every student during an online class. This becomes a problem, particularly for students with learning disabilities and special needs.
However, this doesn’t mean e-learning isn’t effective at all. On the contrary, it lets students learn at their own pace from the comfort of their homes. This, in turn, means they’ll need 40% to 60% less time to learn than in a traditional classroom. Also, the retention capacity of students is higher in an online classroom. The onus, therefore, lies on the teachers and the education system, at large, to understand the individual needs of students. It’s crucial to devise creative ways to keep the students involves and engaged. Also, the local and federal governments need to adopt suitable measures to ensure that students from all backgrounds and economic classes have access to the online learning infrastructure.