Major world events are often an inflection point for rapid innovation. Rise of e-commerce post-SARS. While we have yet to see whether this will apply to e-learning post-COVID-19, it is one of the few sectors where investment has not dried up. What has been made clear through this pandemic is the importance of distributing knowledge across borders, companies, and all parts of society. If online learning technology can play a role here, it is incumbent upon all of us to explore its full potential.
It is clear that this pandemic has utterly disrupted an education system that many assert was already losing its relevance. At present, schools are continuing to focus on traditional academic skills and rote learning, rather than on skills such as critical thinking and adaptability, which will be more important for success in the future. Could the move to online learning be the catalyst to create a new, more effective method of educating students? While some worry that the hasty nature of the transition online may have hindered this goal, others plan to make e-learning part of their ‘new normal’ after experiencing the benefits first-hand.
In some research, it shows that on average students retain 25-60 percent more material when learning online compared to only 8-10 percent in a classroom. This is mostly due to the students being able to learn faster online; e-learning requires 40-60 percent less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concepts as they choose.
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At present there is no clear system that our Education sector is taking up to adapt the system brought upon us by so called “New Normal” except for several experimental measures that could possibly use to continue educating our learners and one of them is blended learning, a technique that utilizes both face-to-face or virtual learning.
Although most children or learners now a days are more resilient to E-learning, there is no assurance that they can be easily though through virtual teaching because learning impact on them varies according to ages so therefore, our educational system must established a structured environment to get the full benefit of online learning. there need to be a concerted effort to provide this structure and go beyond replicating a physical class/lecture through video capabilities, instead, using a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods that promote “inclusion, personalization and intelligence”.
Schools in affected areas are finding stop-gap solutions to continue teaching, but the quality of learning is heavily dependent on the level and quality of digital access. After all, only around 60% of the globe’s population is online. While virtual classes on personal tablets may be the norm relying on lessons and assignments sent via WhatsApp or email.
Moreover, the less affluent and digitally savvy individual families are, the further their students are left behind. When classes transition online, these children lose out because of the cost of digital devices and data plans.
Unless access costs decrease and quality of access increase in all countries, the gap in education quality, and thus socioeconomic equality will be further exacerbated. The digital divide could become more extreme if educational access is dictated by access to the latest technologies. The pandemic is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the skills students need in this unpredictable world such as informed decision making, creative problem solving, and perhaps above all, adaptability. To ensure those skills remain a priority for all students, resilience must be built into our educational systems as well.
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