Has Coronavirus forced the switch to digital learning, for good?
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2020 has been a year of change. Although most of the different approaches Covid-19 has forced upon us keep us apart, some of those approaches have changed for the better. In the world of online school in particular, the world is finally finding its feet.
Lockdown, the social distancing measures, and the periodical halting of manufacturing processes, have all come about as a direct result of coronavirus. As a result, schools, colleges, and universities around the world have had to find new ways to operate.
We wanted to take some time to review those changes, with the aim of finding out whether or not they are likely to be permanent. Is online school the new normal – or does traditional schooling trump all? let’s find out…
Facts and Figures Behind Online School
Before we can discuss whether or not the growth of online school systems has had a positive or negative effect on our kids, let’s look at some of the cold, hard, facts. Did you know, for example, that nearly 70% [i]of all online students prior to 2020 were professionals in their fields seeking to boost their knowledge? It’s true. The majority of online schooling was aimed at those who considered themselves ‘too old’ to go through the University experience a second time around!
Another trend which has largely been pre-2020 is the tendency for online school to be aimed at adults. This means that nobody thought to educate children younger than 16 years of age through digital means. Online school was reserved for the older students, the ones capable of being ‘trusted’. As we all know, 2020 has seen this theory blown out of the water.
The global market for online schooling has shot heavenwards due to Covid-19. Pre-Covid, the market in America was expected to be worth $6.22 billion by 2022[ii]. Now, it is rumored to be worth $336.98 billion by 2026 – just four years later. That’s a massive increase in expected growth… and all due to being safe at home, away from the virus.
How Coronavirus has Changed our Reliance on Online Schooling?
The differences in how Coronavirus has changed online school can be seen everywhere. In the UK, for example, the government issued a series of guidelines aimed at elementary school teachers. They were destined to make teaching students through an online school system more manageable. Across the pond, the New York Times points out that schools were shutting, but that younger learners couldn’t process online school by themselves. In short, online school for the very young must be supervised.
The EU in Europe posted their own guidelines for maintaining education and training during Covid-19. In it, they give advice and access to several different learning resources. Obviously, these can only be accessed by members of EU countries.
It is safe to assert that all over the world, students are suffering. To avoid losing a full generation of intelligent minds, implementing online school plans from country-to-country seems to be the sensible thing to do. If it wasn’t such a vitally important part of all of our future lives, UNESCO wouldn’t be putting out statements warning about the possible danger to our youths.
It makes logical sense, at this point, to start instituting these same systems that governments all around the globe are already initiating. Online school is the best way to help those children in the short term. In the long term, it could stay relevant, expand, and allow any one of us to learn any course we wanted to… regardless of age, gender, race, or sex.
What’s the Difference Between Online School and Traditional Education?
Now that we appreciate online school as a useful tool for reaching a generation of displaced children forced out of traditional school – let’s spot the differences between the two.
We all went to traditional elementary and secondary schools – assuming our readers are over the age of 16. When you learn this way, you are at increased risk from catching or spreading the virus, yet you are able to make more social connections than you would at home. You can gain practical experience using equipment in the building – but this luxury has stopped since the onset of the virus.
Pros of Regular School
- You get to make friends
- You can partake in extra-curricular activities
- You have access to a teacher’s attention and practical equipment in a classroom
Cons of Regular School
- You have more opportunity to get into trouble
- Classes are so full teachers can’t give that much attention
- Spread the pandemic through interaction
As you suspected, online schooling takes away the risk of spreading the virus. Just because you have to home school doesn’t mean that your child can’t enjoy extra-curricular activities. They can still make friends in their classroom since they all connect via video link. They may still be assigned projects to work on with one another, giving them ample opportunity to learn about social relationships. In short, nothing is lost but there is everything to gain.
Pros of Online School
- You can make friends in a safe setting where no germs are spread
- You can learn without travel time or costs
- You have a far better teacher to student ratio
Cons of Online School
- You can’t access school equipment (which Covid-19 has prevented anyway)
- Someone needs to be home with the children while they learn
While we can categorically tell you that the coronavirus has drastically impacted how prepared the world is for a fully online school, we can’t tell you if this will be a permanent switch. The world of online school allows for a lower teacher-to-student ratio, saves carbon emissions, time, and money spent on travelling, and prevents the spread of global pandemics. If ever there was a time when we needed an established online schooling system – it was right here, right now. The change starts with you… are you ready to start learning in the digital world? We are rearing to go!