Back in the year 2012, an American writer, Marc Prensky stated that in the years to come, technology will be over a TRILLION TIMES more powerful than it is today!
In the year 2021, his words have shaped up into reality! From lifestyle dependence to educational choices, everything around us is going digital!
But just like any other revolution in the world, a paradigm shift to virtual education has also divided the stakeholders into two groups with contrasting opinions.
Most of them embraced this change happily and accepted the new normal. But others seem to be sceptical about its advantages and consider it extremely ‘harmful’ for students.
There can be many reasons for such diverse opinions about virtual learning.
But why should we believe the facts floating in the air!
Let’s figure out the reality ourselves & scrutinize some alleged ‘harmful effects’ of digital education and understand them with the help of supportive facts:
(1) Screen Time
Increased use of screen is believed to be the biggest ‘con’ of virtual education. Apparently, for many stakeholders, this screen time is the biggest culprit that makes virtual education a complete ‘NO NO’ for them.
A layman generally associates increased screen time with sleep disorders, behavior issues, depression, etc.
However, experts have something else to say!
It has been proven that screen time issues are not because of the exposure to screens during online learning.
Instead, these are the result of poor management of non-academic screen time.
The BBC discloses that the general notions of screen time and its ill effects are not based on proven facts.
Here’s a look at some interesting findings of this report:
A detailed review of screen time w.r.t. the overall well-being of young learners shows that there is no evidence of screen time being toxic for students. It states that limited screen use is beneficial for students.
This informative report also shows a relation between screen time and depression in students. However, the signs of depression in adolescents were more because of ‘social media’ and not due to their exposure to screens for educational purposes. Apparently, the genuine ill-effects of screen-time are directly due to its non-academic uses.
The most enlightening part of this report states that even adults need to keep a check on their own screen time to bring it down for children.
So, these facts imply that screen use in this ‘information age’ is a part of ‘lifestyle’. So, both adults and children need to keep a check on it, just like other aspects of their health and general well-being.
It is clear that most of our beliefs regarding virtual learning and increased screen use are baseless.
During the pandemic, a majority of the student population spent only an hour extra for virtual learning.
(2) Inciting Distractions
When it comes to virtual learning, the feasibility of multitasking and flexible timings cannot be denied. Owing to these privileges of flexible learning schedules, many stakeholders label virtual classes as ‘distraction prone’.
Before we get down to understanding the elements of distraction in virtual education, it is important for us to analyze if our traditional platforms are 100% distraction-free.
Distractions are a part of any educational setting, online or face-to-face. This issue needs to be addressed by all students, teachers, and parents as there is no such setting that is 100% immune from this challenge.
Broadly, online education is no less complicated or simpler when it comes to distractions. And at the end of the day, it is the student’s motivation, along with correct guidance that determines success in his/her educational journey. Virtual learning focuses on improving the student’s motivation and triggers his/her interest level. Therefore, it manages to eliminate distractions from the teaching and learning processes.
Hence, online education is highly productive and personalized for students because it makes them more responsible, goal-driven and self-motivated.
As per the Ministry of Education, USA, digital learning tools accelerate a student’s learning by increasing their overall engagement levels.
Researchers have rightly concluded that online education has an unprecedented advantage of ‘my place’ and ‘my time’. And mostly, this flexibility is mistaken to cause distractions during virtual classes.
Hence, virtual classes are not harmful your child but the unmanaged distractions in the educational processes are.
(3) Social Isolation and Procrastination
You must have heard that an online learning environment is ‘isolated’ or ‘secluded’. Moreover, it is also believed that online learners easily get into the habit of procrastinating coursework.
Once again, these beliefs are exaggerated versions of some specific experiences. Digital learning has its own share of meaningful social interactions. And these are even better than the socializing opportunities created by any face-to-face institution.
Contrary to popular belief, the structure of online schooling fosters genuine friendship among students, because it sets them free from the biases of appearance, caste, creed, financial background, and other discriminatory factors.
A virtual learning space is a hub of quality interactions amongst cross-cultural peers. Such researched online methodologies are the best to foster ‘global citizenship’ in students.
We can say that virtual learning adds quality to a student’s interactions to help in the development of social domains. And as far as procrastination issues are concerned, these are again the result of poorly prepared and ill-planned self-study schedules.
Students who enroll with the best online high school enjoy the benefits of 100% online learning and learn to manage their coursework within timelines. The automated monitoring mechanisms of modern-day accredited online schools create foolproof solutions for issues like procrastination and delaying course submission.
(4) Other Factors
We all know that the face of virtual schooling during the pandemic was undoubtedly nightmarish. And the rise in mental health disorders in children at this time was quite obvious.
The overnight transition and ill-preparedness of traditional schools to deliver online instructions created complete havoc in the educational landscape. But now that the hazy picture and the tedious learning curve are clear, it’s time to move beyond our make-belief perceptions of online education.
Actually, virtual education saved us from a massive loss of productive time. Rather, pandemic schooling also highlighted the benefits of virtual education for special students and the victims of school violence. They found a safe haven through online homeschooling and got a medium to thrive in a ‘threat-free’ learning environment of their choice.
As opposed to some common perceptions, virtual classes are a silver lining to the pandemic, because they offer a practical solution to the issues of student inclusion and engagement simultaneously.
This change also reiterated the role of technology in assisting special learners and in a way, it showed a new pathway for more individualized and specialized schooling programs. Assistive technology, artificial intelligence, and ICT-enabled educational settings became the supportive pillars for the unique learning needs of special learners. And, virtual classes became a perfect design for all types of learners in all life conditions!
The actual merits of virtual education often go unnoticed in the hardships of crisis schooling during the pandemic.
As a result, we often miss out on the reality, that,online education is the most reliable educational medium in the years to come.
Today, the aims of education are way beyond just the development of foundational skills in learners. The process of rethinking education, calls for a need to inculcate new-age skills in students!
UNICEF states that 40% of the world’s employers do not find candidates with the right skillsets. And at this crucial juncture of the post-pandemic era, digital technologies are both purposeful and productive for the human race.
The new reality of remote learning is a pathway that guarantees success, because it has the power to defeat barriers of geography, physical deficits and fixed learning schedules. The leverage offered by online schooling platforms is full of unprecedented advantages, as it caters to students of all kinds across the globe without any need of alternating their life priorities.
Today, online curricula are replacing the traditional educational delivery model. Government statistics show the extent to which students are embracing this change. 21% of the US public schools offered 100% online courses to students in the last five years
It is evident that despite the divergent views of stakeholders about digital education, it continues to rule the education industry with its accessibility and flexibility features.
So, utilizing the power of technology in this information age is ‘empowering’ and not ‘harmful’!
It’s high time, we see the brighter side of this picture
understand that virtual classes are neither harmful nor temporary for us!
This new normal is here to transform our kids into global citizens and its benefits are open for each one of us!