Remote learning during COVID-19
2020 has forced us all to adapt and find new ways of doing things. One of the worst-hit sectors is education. School closures have impacted a whopping 94% of the world’s student population! According to the United Nations, the move to remote learning during COVID-19 has been the largest disruption to education systems in history. This has been challenging, but students and teachers have adapted to make the best of this difficult time.
Challenges of remote learning during COVID-19
Increased digital divide
The move to remote learning has meant students without access to computers and other digital resources cannot learn as much as those who do. According to OECD data, while 95% of students from Norway, Switzerland, and Austria have computer access, only 34% of Indonesians do. This is an indication that the digital divide has widened.
In Australia, even though the government has made an initiative to provide less fortunate students with digital equipment, many are still concerned the pandemic will widen the digital divide. Some countries like America have tried to address this issue by implementing half online, half offline education methods with students taking turns attending school. This helps students who are less fortunate and also reduces the chances of COVID-19 transmission.
There are also more distractions with remote learning from home including screaming younger siblings, dogs barking, and noisy neighbors. It is also true that younger students tend to get distracted more easily at home and could be less focused on lessons than if they were in a school classroom with teachers’ guidance and under supervision.
Some measures suggested to help with distractions include noise-canceling headphones, listening to background music, and positioning students in front of a blank wall to to prevent distractions during study sessions. In addition, according to edutopia, short breaks can help students focus, increase their productivity, and reduce stress which all aims to minimize mental distraction.
Less social activity
The pandemic has also led to cancellation of many social elements of campus experience like co-curricular activities. Research by Universities UK found that almost 60% of students and recent graduates felt the social element of university life helped them broaden their life skills. Many are now missing out on this important aspect of education because of the crisis.
Advantages of remote learning during COVID-19
Better retention of material
Perhaps surprisingly, remote learning has seen an increase in students’ ability to retain study material. According to the World Economic Forum, learning retention has increased from 25% to 60% when participating in online lessons, compared to only 8-10% when learning in classrooms.
More student engagement
In offline learning settings, some students shy away from class interaction. With online learning, teachers have found these students are more likely to raise questions and take part in class discussions (using, for example, the poll function on Zoom). This demonstrates teachers being able to determine students’ understanding of modules which is extremely important.
Covid-19 has been extremely tough for everyone, however, students and teachers have shown incredible resilience and resourcefulness during these unprecedented times!