During the recent pandemic, our education system changed dramatically. There was a necessary shift onto online teaching and learning throughout education establishments. This teaching practice has continued post-pandemic amongst the colleges and higher education institutes and in fact, has opened doors to learners that were previously shut. This article addresses why education has and will continue to move into a more virtual platform and what the benefits and downfalls of that are.
What Is Online Learning?
Online learning is a lesson or academic interaction that takes place over an electronic device through the power of the internet. This can be an online course, an online video lesson, or even an online exam. Regardless of content, the corroborating factor is the virtual nature of this type of learning.
How Credible Are Online Courses?
If an online course is powered by an academic board, then it is as credible as any in-classroom learning experience or qualification. In fact, studies have even shown that owing to the nature of the virtual education world, students actually have more academic success overall than when studying in a face-to-face environment. The validity of the qualification is no different from one that is achieved through on-campus sessions and you get the best of both worlds.
Though many students have felt as though they have missed out on the true student experience, this is a younger generation viewpoint. Remote learning is a highly desirable thing for mature (older) students who are perhaps, returning to education after a break or looking for something to fit into their current lifestyle demands.
As long as the course is offered by a ratified institution, there should be no difference at all between your qualification and that of a student with a physical presence in the building. There are, of course, plenty of fake courses scattered around so it’s important to steer clear of the scams and the scammers and search instead for full credibility and cross-reference any potential purchase before making a full commitment and spending the money.
Further Education And Online Learning
Further education is a particular focus of this article. Courses such as a post master’s certificate nurse practitioner online have grown in credibility and popularity as more and more students opt for these kinds of options. There was a time when it seemed farfetched and even impossible to complete such types of courses online, but thankfully now that is not the case. Of course, there is still the practical element to consider, but when you take away the in-person learning element, this becomes even more of an achievable prospect too. It gives students more time to plan and more space to succeed. Furthermore, not every online master’s degree has a practical side to it; there is an abundance of options where you never even come face to face with your professors, let alone engage in hands-on experience.
The Reasons Why Education Is Moving To A Virtual Platform
One of the reasons why education is moving to a virtual platform is because online learning is more accessible. Access to education, higher education, in particular, is a barrier that lots of people face. With the shift to online learning slowly taking hold, these barriers are breaking down piece by piece and creating more opportunities than ever before for people wanting to access further learning.
Long gone are the days when further education was a faded prospect only for the elite and the rich. The strides that the system has made in terms of equality are just the start of the process. Not everyone can get a scholarship and not everyone can afford to juggle their studies around their children, so being able to access courses, seminars, lectures, and materials online in a less controlled and restricting environment has paved the way to fulfilling a certain success criterion.
Let’s run through the main reasons why online learning is more accessible.
This is pivotal for people with mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression. Often, feelings of vulnerability stop a plan before it gets in motion, and it can affect classroom participation, attendance, and general engagement. When a student is able to participate from the comfort of wherever they choose, they are able to feel back in the driver’s seat and retain control over their environment where they might otherwise feel too out of control to succeed. Online learning offers the chance to engage despite this scope.
Removal Of Childcare Constraints
Studies have found that childcare constraints and associated commitments are one of the largest contributors to a person not pursuing their education ambitions. With a virtual platform, we’re not suggesting this issue is eliminated in its entirety, but it is definitely made easier. There are no childcare drop-offs to navigate around traveling to campus, and there is no pressure to miss pick-ups or pivotal scholastic events, for example. All these issues can be worked around in an online session. It makes it that much easier to plan for and navigate life around.
If the roadblock is financial then there are courses online that do not cost the same as full college tuition. You do not have travel costs, the course material cost is lessened, and you can juggle sessions around any jobs more effectively just like with childcare. That means in a situation where you are obligated to be on campus and learn in person, you are less likely to be able to maintain a part-time job and more likely to suffer financially owing to the extra costs. You will have higher course fees to account for as well as all of the extra costs that come generally with being out of the house.
Remote Education Is Better For The Environment
Fewer students on site mean fewer students traveling to campus, fewer classrooms to heat and light, and fewer meals to cook. All of these things add up to a better carbon footprint for the institution in question, something which holds a lot of stead in modern society.
Less Road Pollution
Over half of students use their car or similar to travel to and from school, whether that is college or high school. That is a large percentage and therefore a lot of fuel, a lot of cars on the road at the same time, and a lot of emissions in the air. Even if some students use a school bus, and even if some take their bikes, the number that chooses to take their car does not change. This is not an immediately solvable problem owing to the fact that the radius a student must travel is too far to walk in a lot of cases. For higher education on-campus courses, even students that live in accommodations nearby still have travel considerations to factor in.
Fewer Energy Costs And Expectations
Of course, there is the consideration that every student who isn’t on campus will be using electricity at home, but this is still less overall than it would be if they were all in physical attendance. The difference between powering and heating a large building such as a school or a college is astronomical when compared to the alternative – a study room in a house or family home. We are talking tens of thousands worth of dollars difference here, so this scale is not dismissible.
Reduction In Materials – Less Plastic, Less Paper
Of course, the biggest attraction to remote learning is in the physical drain that in-house education has on natural resources. Aside from heat and power, there is also the paper tax that comes into play. Without students in front of a teacher, it is far less likely that there will be any paper trails on the table. Course materials can become completely accessible as indeed they should be in the modern world. Reading can be done online, essays can be submitted electronically, and course materials can be viewed on a laptop or a PC. Plastic materials such as pens and disposable lunch equipment are also reduced when students learn from home. This has a major positive impact on the environment as non-recyclable plastic is one of the biggest detrimental factors when it comes to carbon footprints.
Now, alongside the good, there is also the bad to consider. The following is a run down of why education is not yet ready to go completely remote and the issues that still need smoothing out before we, the collective, are ready to take that step.
Easier To Get Lost And Fall Behind
The main concern is that students can fall behind more easily when learning completely remotely. This is owing to multiple reasons including a decrease in motivation, less routine and structure, and fewer consequences for unturned work. A part of the reason why classrooms function in the way that they do is so that the student learns to take responsibility for their learning. The older they get, the more that responsibility falls on their shoulders until one reaches college age where they are thrown into the deep end so to speak. It’s far easier to fail when you fall behind and unfortunately it is easier to get lost in the crowd when you do all of your classes virtually.
Less Social Interaction
A key part of the education setting is that it allows children and young adults to socialize with their peers. When we take this away, we are ultimately depriving them of an integral part of their well-being and social development. So, if we are indeed moving towards an education system that is delivered remotely for whatever reason, there needs to be thought there for social norms and developmental aspects as well. Not everyone needs this, but a lot of people do as it’s an integral part of being a human. For example, extra-curricular activities have taken a hit and will continue to do so. They are harder to organize and maintain when campuses become obsolete, and it can lead to a rise in unwanted recreational activities such as antisocial behaviors and the like.
Can Feel Impersonal
E-learning can create an impersonal environment. Communication barriers can move to the forefront of the educational experience and students can often struggle to connect with not only fellow students but staff as well. Without their students in front of them, it can also put an extra unnecessary strain on educators to deliver a tailored academic arena. It can be that much more difficult to get to know their students on a more individual basis and harder to reach out and meet the bespoke needs of the individual learner.
Potential For Depleted Learning Quality
Last but not least, there is the potential for a depleted quality in the overall education output. This is a major concern as it can lead to poorer achievement throughout and in the end result, but it can also make it harder to connect with studies when students are displaced and not physically present. There is less accountability for missed deadlines, for example. Sometimes you need the pressure of knowing that you will be face to face with the consequence of not doing your work for you to actually do the work. So, without that, the consequences seem less real, and you lose the responsibility that you would otherwise learn by being a student in a building surrounded by fellow students.
The last thing we want is for our children, or for students in general to get left behind. The potential for this eventuality is all too real where online tutorage is concerned. These reasons alone are why educational buildings and the need for a physical presence will always gain recognition.
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with e-learning platforms. The advantages alone make it a viable platform for a range of learners, but the disadvantages are too detrimental to ignore for other groups of students. So, while it is an increasingly used type of learning, virtual education is not yet ready to take the world by storm. One day, it might be.