Online Education: 6 Lessons We Can Learn from the Epidemic

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the educational technology industry was seeing a considerable surge in investments. As per the estimates by the World Economic Forum, the market held a value of $18.66 billion in 2023 and is anticipated to escalate to $350 billion by 2025.

Following the start of the pandemic, the investments in online education have witnessed a substantial surge. However, the shift to edtech has also come with its share of educational challenges. In this context, what are the advantages that have emerged from the transition to virtual learning? What lessons can we learn from the affirmative impact that the pandemic has had on the acceptance of educational technology?

  1. Online Education Must Be the Primary Method of Instruction, Not an Addition to the Regular Curriculum

    Back in March of 2023, educators faced an unprecedented challenge when they were compelled to switch to emergency remote teaching. Unfortunately, many of them failed to take into account the distinct disparities between face-to-face and virtual instruction and thought that simply altering the physical environment would be sufficient.

    Technology alone cannot be used to replace traditional face-to-face teaching. Teachers must assess how to integrate technology effectively into their teaching methods. Educational software could be used to assist students in mastering and practising what they have learnt.
  2. Technology Must Complement, Not Replace, Teaching Methods

    Teachers should not permit machines to take over from direct, human interaction. For instance, simply presenting a video and hoping that it will suffice is not appropriate. Instead, teachers should use software and technology to enhance their own teaching rather than to substitute for it.

    The potential for technology to be incorporated into an environment that is predominantly human and personal is vast. With the help of software, teachers might be able to customise their teaching to suit the specific strengths and learning styles of their students.

    However, teachers need to be careful not to allow new technologies to substitute for the bond between teacher and student, no matter how advanced they may appear to be.
  3. Teachers Should Be Creative to Capture Their Students’ Interest.

    Studies suggest that teachers who use imaginative teaching methods have a greater impact on their students, especially those who are less willing to learn. Fortunately, there is a broad spectrum of choices that educators can make use of to provide instruction via online or distance learning. Some instances of these strategies are:
    • Utilising Zoom’s exclusive chat rooms for discussion groups
    • Google Docs and other cloud-based approaches for collaboration
    • Collecting student feedback on course content
    • Web-based forums and real-time chats are illustrations of this.
    • Encouraging them to exchange and analyse content on social media
    • Motivating students to form or take part in blogs
    • Producing audio recordings, video recordings, and other multimedia content
  4. Educators Need to Prioritise Accessibility

    One problem with online and distance learning is that students who are without access to technology may struggle to keep up with their classmates.

    In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous universities and institutions took proactive steps to ensure that students who lacked basic necessities like reliable internet access, laptops, and other essential equipment and services were given the resources necessary to continue their studies. However, an increasing number of students are being left behind due to their lack of access to the technology that their peers have access to.

    Teachers should take into consideration the technology they are utilising in the classroom and make any necessary alterations to guarantee that all students have access to it. They should also be mindful of accessibility issues, such as the diverse learning styles and abilities of their students, and deliver the necessary resources to those who require them to flourish.
  5. The Importance of Peer Assistance

    Many professors have found it challenging to shift to online instruction. As the pandemic progressed, even those with experience in e-learning had to adapt their teaching strategies.

    It is evident that educators at all levels require and considerably benefit from their peers’ support. Currently, numerous teachers are offering advice and guidance through online platforms, such as blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos. To stay up-to-date with the constantly evolving digital world, teachers should make use of casual assistance, such as suggestions for educational technology products that have caught the attention of students.
  6. A Hybrid of Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching Methods Can Yield Benefits.

    The increase in technology’s prevalence in education has enabled students and teachers to participate in courses from a distance. While there are undoubtedly benefits to this, there are also downsides. One of the most significant issues is the time difference between local and home locations.

    It can be challenging for students to stay engaged in class when they have to log into Zoom at midnight. To alleviate this, teachers are implementing a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. For example, they may offer pre-recorded videos for students to view at their own pace, as well as online discussion forums for them to participate in class at a time that suits them best.

    Studies reveal that online learning can significantly enhance retention rates, ranging from 25% to 60% compared to traditional classroom instruction. The appropriate environment and circumstances must be in place for successful learning to occur. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, e-learning will continue to play a critical role in the educational landscape, particularly given the current global situation.

    Educators, leaders, edtech professionals, and other industry experts have a duty to draw on the insights gained from the e-learning environment during the pandemic and use this knowledge to develop innovative teaching strategies.

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