Before 2020, the idea of students pursuing their desired courses from the comfort of their homes seemed ridiculous. However, since the new normal set in, the world has adapted to what was previously unimaginable.
Online learning now seems to be the only safe and viable option to keep academics alive. While it has provided the ease of bringing education to our very doorstep, it has also made the unthinkable happen – making the courses of leading institutes and faculties available to all. But not all aspects of online learning are rainbows and sunshine. So, let’s explore online learning across its length and breadth.
Tips for Effective Online Learning:
Firstly, let’s get on with some tips for digital learning. This would highly help in leveraging the most democratized learning platforms to their fullest potential.
- Digital proficiency of students – Not every child gets to grow up with a smart device in hand. Once a faculty understands this, a customized learning plan would fall in order. This would make sure that the needs of every student are met.
- Encouraging Group-work – For students connecting virtually, there would always be a longing for face-to-face interactions. Keeping them occupied by involving them in different group tasks would encourage the students to get connected with peers and would keep their most-needed socializing quotient in check.
- Developing a Community – Keeping the learning circle socialized is keeping them in touch with the crucible of human civilization. Learners would get to know different perspectives on the same topic, help and get helped by others in the community and unlock the strengths of learning as a group along with having fun.
- Remodeling the Course – Being flexible with the lesson plans and deadlines respecting the situation of different students would help them feel more involved. Moreover, shaking up the content delivery by mixing and changing the tasks that the learners do, would effectively save them from monotony and help them sustain curiosity.
Advantages and Challenges:
Compared to conventional classroom learning, online learning has disrupted the traditional approach and has given it a much needed push to reinvent itself. Amongst tons of advantages that it possesses, the following are a notable few:
- Ever dreamed of getting into the sessions conducted by faculties from the most renowned institutions? Travel, accommodation, fees and expenses would all dangle right before our eyes holding up a ‘NO’ placard. But, online learning has chased away these barriers democratizing learning for everyone who has the willingness to learn.
- Tapping the power of socializing! For those who have liked, shared and commented on social media posts across various platforms, it’d be a rewarding experience to take part in discussion forums, which earlier happened only as hear-say and all those remarkable takeaways are gone in the air before we knew it.
- Real time usage of online resources such as websites or apps that aid in an easier understanding of the course, would also instigate a learning response amongst the learners that goes all the way back to the very start of mankind – the ability to recognize and match patterns.
But there’s also a flip side to this coin. Despite all the lauding, the following are some of the drawbacks of online learning:
- Limited attention span – Though the purpose served is different, our mind finds it really hard to differentiate between the learning time on our smartphones or PC and the fun time we have with it. The impact of social media has reduced the attention span to an infinitesimally smaller unit than what our previous generations had.
- Uneven distribution of resources is another problem that is common among predominant learners. Not all have good internet connectivity or a peaceful yoga compatible environment to learn every day.
- There’s a lack of in-person interactions which is very crucial for us. There’s a possibility for a sizeable portion of the current learning generation to be hardcore introverts. But, beyond learning there’s a place called ‘work’ and it needs socially compatible persons.
This takes us to the question, is online learning effective? The answer lies in the alternative which could provide the same benefits as this. Online learning is a boon to the aspirants who have the thirst for knowledge and it’s our prime responsibility to weed out its short-comings, to let them thrive!
Post the pandemic, online learning has become an inseparable module in mainstream education. The days of looking down on a virtual learning certificate are long past us! So, an open mindset for the faculties in devising the course contents and a curious mindset for the learners to get hands-on in the delivered course would together create a successful recipe for effective and interactive online learning.
Lengthy lectures and notes taking may have worked in the classroom, but not virtually. The minds of the audience are so used to social media that their attentive screen time is very limited. So, splitting the course contents into short and crisp formats will get you a long way in making online learning more engaging. Being flexible would also be of great help, since the new means of transferring knowledge may not confine within the same timelines as the conventional alternative.
Understanding the difference between the students being present alongside in the same room and being together on a virtual screen is vital to engage students in online learning. Devising customised approaches and pairing them up in groups to engage in certain tasks would also help them feel that they’re together in this and not left behind or isolated. Leveraging digitisation to create interactive assignments would help assess the progress made by the students in real-time.
Encouraging student participation is critical in a virtual mode of learning. This would not only help the faculty in conveying their course contents but also develop interactive online learning. Using a harmonised platform to carry out all the related tasks such as learning, sharing and submission of assignments, evaluations etc., would greatly avoid the confusion on getting things tracked and save much valuable time.
Despite different ways to engage students online, their learning is as effective as the environment in which it happens. Not many of us would have the privilege of getting into a quiet and calm place for hours together every day. Not only the minds of the learners but also the teachers would tend to get affected by the externalities that just seem to kick in. Also, making a truce with the reality that all of us aren’t gifted with the same internet infrastructure calls for providing different means to continue online learning rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Besides, it’s not reasonable to ask every learner to afford a quiet and broadband savvy place to live.