Online Education: 6 Lessons We Can Learn from the Epidemic

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been a significant rise in investments in educational technology. The World Economic Forum estimated that the market was valued at $18.66 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025.

Since the onset of the pandemic, investment in online education has seen a significant increase. Despite its many benefits, the transition to edtech has also brought its own set of educational challenges. In light of this, what advantages have arisen from the shift to virtual learning? What can we take away from the positive impact the pandemic has had on the uptake of educational technology?

  1. Online Education Should Be a Primary Means of Instruction, Not an Add-on to the Regular Courseload

    In March of 2023, educators faced an unprecedented challenge when they were required to move to emergency remote teaching. Unfortunately, many of them failed to account for the fact that there are distinct differences between face-to-face and virtual instruction, and that simply changing the physical setting was not enough.

    Technology alone cannot be used as a substitute for conventional face-to-face teaching. It is essential for teachers to consider how best to integrate technology into their teaching methods. Educational software could be utilised to assist students in consolidating and practising what they have learnt.
  2. Teaching Is Something that Technology Should Complement, Not Replace.

    Teachers should not allow machines to take the place of direct, human interaction. For example, simply showing a video and expecting it to be sufficient is not appropriate. Instead, teachers should use software and technology to enhance their own teaching, rather than to substitute it.

    The potential for technology to be utilised within an environment which is largely human and private is immense. Teachers may be able to tailor their teaching to the individual strengths and learning styles of their students, with the aid of software.

    However, teachers must be mindful of not allowing new technologies to replace the connection between educator and student, no matter how advanced they may seem.
  3. Teachers Need to Be Imaginative to Keep Their Students’ Attention.

    Research has indicated that teachers who employ innovative pedagogical approaches are more likely to have a positive influence on their students, particularly when it comes to engaging those who are less eager to learn. Fortunately, there is a wide range of options available to educators who are looking to deliver instruction via online or distance learning. Some examples of this include:
    • Using Zoom‘s private spaces for discussion groups
    • Google Docs and other cloud-based methods of collaboration
    • Gathering student feedback on class material
    • Web-based discussion groups and live chats are examples of this.
    • Having them share and discuss content on social media
    • Encouraging pupils to create or contribute to blogs
    • Making audio recordings, video recordings, and other forms of multimedia content
  4. Educators Should Think About Accessibility

    One issue with online and distant learning is that it might be difficult for students who lack access to the technology to keep up with their peers.

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities and institutions took proactive measures to ensure that students who lacked basic necessities such as a reliable internet connection, laptops, and other essential equipment and services were provided with the resources necessary to continue their studies. Unfortunately, more and more children are being left behind due to their lack of access to the technology that their peers can utilise.

    Teachers should take into account the technology they are using in the classroom and make any necessary changes to ensure that all pupils have access to it. Furthermore, they should reflect on the issues of accessibility, such as the different learning styles and abilities of the students, and provide those who require it with the resources they need to thrive.
  5. The Power of Peer Support

    Many professors have found the transition to online instruction challenging. As the pandemic progressed, even those with experience in e-learning were taken aback and had to adjust their teaching strategies.

    It is clear that teachers at all levels need and greatly benefit from the support of their peers. Currently, many teachers are providing advice and guidance through online platforms, such as blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos. To ensure they stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving digital world, teachers should take advantage of informal support, such as recommendations for educational technology products that have sparked interest among students.
  6. There Are Benefits to Using a Hybrid of Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching Methods.

    The increased prevalence of technology in education has enabled students and teachers to engage in courses from a distance. There are certainly advantages to this, yet there are also some drawbacks. One of the most significant issues is that of time differences between local and home locations.

    When students have to log into Zoom at midnight, it can be difficult to remain attentive in the class. To address this, teachers are implementing a combination of synchronous and asynchronous strategies. For example, they may provide pre-recorded videos for students to watch at their own pace, as well as online discussion forums for them to participate in the class at a time that suits them.

    Research has demonstrated that online learning can significantly boost retention rates, with figures ranging from 25% to 60% compared to traditional classroom instruction. To ensure successful learning, the right environment and circumstances must be in place. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, e-learning will remain a key part of the educational landscape, especially in light of the current global situation.

    Educators, leaders, edtech professionals and other industry professionals have an obligation to draw upon the insights gained from the e-learning environment during the pandemic, and to use this knowledge to develop innovative approaches to teaching.

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