By Jessica Piel and Alexa Stickler, Student Support Coordinators at Edology.com
As the impact of COVID-19 spreads across the world, many schools are scrambling to quickly adapt to a new way of providing quality education to their students. Online learning is becoming the leading force in education. Within the past few years, many schools and universities have already made the transition to provide fully or partly online courses and programmes.
The current pandemic has provided an unparelled situation and has made it apparent that working and studying online is achievable. This time has proven that we can all stay connected, and it’s not always necessary to continue education (or work) on campus and that it’s possible to be productive entirely online. This experience has brought about a better awareness of how much we can do and achieve from home. It could also be the gateway to understanding all the possibilities education has to offer, as well as the feasibility of completing higher education degrees entirely online.
Virtual learning can supplement existing classes, promote collaborative learning, cater to each student’s schedule and bring many more benefits, not only in this current period of long-term closures, but also beyond.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of virtual classrooms…
While virtual classrooms may not have the traditional collaboration found in a typical face-to-face classroom, educators don’t have to sacrifice collaborative learning in digital spaces. There are several platforms that can be utilised to allow breakout sessions that can provide similar benefits, such as working in pairs or small groups in a physical classroom.
Virtual spaces and technology, such as shared files, discussion posts and online study groups can work to enhance student-to-student interactions and provide further support with course content.
Even though students may be progressing through the learning material and completing assignments at different paces, peer-to-peer interaction promotes a positive learning space and holds each student accountable in their studies, while also creating that sense of community and support that you would normally find in a physical classroom.
Online education also helps provide a learning space for students with complicated schedules and diverse responsibilities. Students are not tied down to strict deadlines and high levels of required participation every day. The student is in control of when they learn the material and can be flexible with how much they are studying within their usual daily schedule.
As online learning is mostly self-directed and self-paced, students can build time management skills and can learn to balance school, work, family and extracurricular activities.
In traditional learning environments, face-to-face interactions are the primary communication channel being used in the classrooms. In virtual classrooms, you can expand beyond the traditional to be more efficient and productive for students. Online learning provides more convenient access to module content, support staff and course tutors. A combination of text material, video recording, instant messaging and video conferencing can all be used by the students to communicate in the manner they are most comfortable with. This will lead to higher engagement and a better understanding of the course materials.
The more engaged students are in their learning, the more likely they are to succeed in the classroom.
Mixed Approach Learning
All students have different learning styles and virtual learning can easily adapt to these as it has the advantage to be able to cater to a wide audience. Students are able to identify the most efficient way they can learn about the subject (recommended readings, flashcards, videos, etc.) and use the method that works best for their learning style.
Take advantage of new technologies to create a connected, flexible and enjoyable learning environment.
Digital learning tools help fill the gaps where traditional classroom teaching falls behind and can’t compare. As the world is slowly coming out of mass closures and quarantines, it has been seen that anything can be accomplished online, including getting a master’s degree.