While online learning is no new innovation, the COVID-19 crisis has brought on a sharp increase in the usage of educational technology platforms. Students all over the world are turning to these platforms as social distancing, quarantining and martial law curfews become our new norm amidst the crisis. While this provides students with a functional bridge between their homes and classrooms, it also alters - and sometimes disrupts - the traditional learning process as we know it.
Through trial and error, the struggle against COVID-19 will bring immense growth to the online classroom. This does not just apply to ed-tech companies, but teachers and students will hone the techniques to engage and stay engaged through an online interface. Now, an accurate mass of data can be compiled on knowledge retention. Educators and scientists can see how it compares the various distant-learning methods of teaching a classroom. For example, does an interactive skype call lecture engage students more than a video lecture and comment section? These methods of online learning have always existed, but now through necessity, they will become more refined and expectantly, more effective. Surely enough, the traditional teaching format of assignments, lectures and class participation will bend, break and reform.
The biggest issue students and teachers alike face with online learning is connectivity. While it is easy to assume most people should have access to a steady internet connection, it is far from the truth. With the removal of libraries and public internet spaces, many students and lower-income families will struggle with online learning. Poor connectivity can cause many frustrations with deadlines, streaming videos and particularly with calls. Systems can be created to adapt to lower connectivity, but it still does not reach those with no connectivity at all.
Even with a stable internet connection, software and online resources can be expensive for students and their institutions. Many ed-tech companies are working towards becoming more accessible. Companies such as Scholastic, Unacademy, Coursera, to name a few, are now offering free online courses and resources to students impacted by the virus. However, successful online learning will still be contingent on using the best software, trained educators with the best methods, and up to date online devices and internet connection.
Educators, students and tech-ed companies are collectively giving online learning a hard push as its purpose shifts from an alternative learning method to the only learning method available in our current climate. This could result in accessible, effective online learning methods for everyone in the near future.
Click here for more tips and tricks for successful online learning by USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/21/taking-teaching-online-class-covid-19-tips-tricks-column/5063239002/