The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic caused schools all over the world to closed leaving more than 1.2 billion students away from their classrooms. Social distancing and staying at home are efficient precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. However, what changes will the widespread school closure have on us?
A shift from the traditional classroom environment to online learning has been implemented in many countries. With the use of computers and internet teachers and students can continue their education while staying at home. However, many are skeptical with this rapid shift as there was little preparation done for this new type of teaching.
Some argue that it will have poor results because: there are many distractions at home, online classes may diminish the social interactions of a lively group discussion, students may have less motivations because they miss the physical closeness and support of their classmates, and limits discipline as children spend less time facing their teachers.
Others believe that this new model of education brings significant benefits such as: teachers and students can easily reach out to each other at any time through chatting or video calling, assignments can be completed conveniently and quickly through document sharing, and students can retain more information as it reduces the number of students in a class allowing teachers to interact to each of them.
Online classes are great solutions to continue education safely while we are still experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, this modern learning is not available to some students. Many struggle to participate in online classes as they cannot afford to buy a computer or don’t have an internet connection making education difficult for students who came from a low-income family.
For first world countries like Switzerland, Norway, and Austria implementing online classes is not that difficult as 95% of their students have computers and internet to use for schoolwork. On the other hand, pushing through this digital learning is a big issue for third world countries as there are likely more than half of their students who will be left behind. For instance, in Indonesia only 34% of their students who have computers and internet at home. In the Philippines the proportion drops to only 20%. In addition, there are many teachers in low-income countries who don’t have the technology needed to conduct online classes.
Access to computers and internet are not the only issues of implementing online classes. It can have significant effect on the economy especially to the education sector as they may have less income. Employment of teachers and school administrations may also be affected which will leave many people unemployed.
The COVID-19 pandemic will forever leave significant changes for us. Online classes may be here to stay even after the outbreak. It is great to go back to traditional classroom learning as it is well tested and proven to be effective but adopting to change and new technologies can also bring substantial benefits for students, schools, and society.