The global pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to education, with 1.2 billion children in 186 countries currently unable to attend school. Whilst some have since returned, many more are still uncertain of the future of their education. The crisis has required a rapid shift in the way education is delivered, and the most effective means of dealing with this has been the implementation of e-learning and other digital platforms. In many cases, this has been found to be an improvement on more traditional approaches.
Let’s investigate this matter in further detail.
There is nothing novel about attending school online.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, educational technology had been gaining traction and becoming increasingly adopted. Global spending on educational technology was estimated to be $18.66 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach a staggering $350 billion by 2025. The use of digital learning tools that can be accessed from any location, such as chat rooms and language applications, has been a major contributory factor in this transition.
It appears that new possibilities are being presented each day in response to the current educational landscape. In the Los Angeles area, districts have partnered with PBS to offer digital learning resources for students of all ages, including programmes designed specifically for the region. In the UK, the BBC has launched Bitesize Daily, offering 14 weeks of lessons in line with curricula, taught by well-known figures. Meanwhile, in China, the Tencent classroom has enabled over 250 million children to return to the classroom.
The transition from traditional classrooms to online learning has many similarities to the increasing trend of teleworking in the business world. Both have their merits and drawbacks. Adjustments to education are already taking place and will be hastened by the extensive use of educational technology, in the same way that they have been embraced by companies around the world.
Perils We Face
It is a given that the transition to online education has been far from smooth. Educational organizations have been taken aback by the sudden and mandatory move to remote learning, and we have all heard stories of how unprepared teachers, inadequate internet capacity, and insufficient preparation for such a drastic change have had a detrimental effect on students’ education.
These are not the only obstacles that edtech will face, but they are among the most pressing right now:
- One of the most widely recognized and complex challenges facing educational technology is ensuring equitable access to modern tools. It is estimated that 25% of American teenagers in the ninth grade do not have access to a computer in their home, and this ‘digital divide’ is an issue in almost every country, though the severity of the problem varies greatly. Despite the efforts of various educational institutions, governmental agencies and non-profit organisations to provide students with the necessary technological resources, it is likely that this problem will remain for a considerable length of time.
- When schools began to implement online learning platforms such as Blackboard or Lark, it was to be expected that they would experience platform dependability issues due to the lack of investment in dedicated IT personnel who could maintain the websites at a high level of performance under high levels of traffic. As a result, many organizations have realized that it is more cost-efficient to outsource their IT services.
- Online education has become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more learners are shifting away from traditional classroom settings in favor of a virtual environment. Although many students have welcomed the additional flexibility that online learning provides, there are still some who have found it difficult to adjust to this new way of learning, as it can be difficult to feel connected in a virtual classroom. As a result, it is important to ensure that the necessary support structures are in place to help those students who are struggling to make the transition.
- As the world’s most experienced educators often lack the knowledge and skills to effectively utilize digital tools in their teaching, schools need to ensure their staff receive comprehensive training. Fortunately, many educational institutions are going the extra mile to ensure their pupils are provided with the highest quality of education.
Our students have been overwhelmingly positive in their response to our online classes. Without them, many children would have to endure a three hour round-trip commute to and from school every day. There is a scarcity of excellent physics teachers, yet with the help of our services, even those schools without a physics teacher can access high-quality teaching.The Baker Dearing Educational Trust was founded by Kenneth Baker, a former UK Secretary of State for Education.
Online learning offers a range of advantages when compared to traditional classroom settings. A research conducted by Shift eLearning found that students retained between 25 and 60 percent more material during online sessions than during traditional classroom lectures, with the latter averaging only 8 to 10 percent. This research suggests that students could potentially achieve better grades when given the opportunity to review material at their own pace, as they can speed up the learning process, skip sections or reread any parts they may have missed.
It is widely accepted that, providing the necessary infrastructure is in place, online education can provide students with the same level of quality education that they would receive on campus, regardless of their physical location. Many prestigious universities, such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford, have been taking advantage of this type of learning for some time, with their massive open online courses (MOOCs) offering the same instructors and course materials as their traditional on-campus provision.
One of the most attractive aspects of online learning is its adaptability. By removing the cost and difficulty of travelling to and from lessons, a greater number of students are able to access the courses that will have the most beneficial effect on their future prospects without having to make any changes to their current lifestyle. This is also advantageous for educators, who are able to provide timely and regular feedback tailored to their students’ needs and queries.
From a philosophical perspective, educational technology is playing an important role in preparing the next generation for successful participation in a globalized society. Despite the fact that the transition to a more digitalized world may be challenging at first, the ability to collaborate remotely will be extremely beneficial in the long run. Furthermore, developing resilience and a hunger to learn will be key characteristics for thriving in the post-pandemic world.
Moreover, online education offers significant environmental benefits. It is easy to comprehend how reduced travel can be beneficial for the environment: fewer vehicles on the roads leads to less greenhouse gas emissions, less students in a school results in less money spent on utilities to regulate the temperature of the building, less printed materials indicate more trees being preserved, and so forth.
Technology as a Key to Education
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a shift in the education system which, although cumbersome and inefficient, has some advantages. Educational technology still has a long way to go, but it is bringing us closer to the utopian vision of education empowered by technology which we all strive to achieve.