Distance learning has undoubtedly had a transformative effect on education, but it also poses a lot of challenges for both students and tutors. Some struggle with unreliable internet access, while others feel uncomfortable learning and/or teaching in their home setting.
There is a big gap between different countries as well between income brackets within countries. According to a report by OECD, 95% of students in Switzerland, Austria, and Norway have a PC for their schoolwork, while only 34% of Indonesian pupils do. Some polls show that people in the United States have a significant differences according to their backgrounds. The statistics demonstrate that 100% of 15-year-olds from a privileged background have a computer, while 25% of those from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have a possibility to use a computer for their studies. Naturally, this situation affects the way they learn and their academic success. Let’s dig deeper and consider in more detail which aspects of education are affected and transformed by distance learning.
- Changing attitudes towards technology
Prior to remote learning, many teachers didn’t actively adopt the technology. But since it has become the only option to make education possible, they had to integrate it on a daily basis. Hence, the teacher-technology relationship has dramatically changed. As instructors were forced to create lessons using digital tools, they started revealing the numerous benefits of technology. Today, more and more educators see ways of how they can solve problems and make their job easier with the help of computers.
2. Lack of physical interaction
Health concerns surrounding COVID-19 made physical interaction almost impossible. To limit the spread of coronavirus, teachers and students can’t meet in person and greet each other with a handshake or a high-five. This is not only discouraging for some individuals but also interferes with social-emotional learning, which is so important for students.
3. Combining different types of learning
Distance learning can be either synchronous, with every student online at the same time, or asynchronous, with pupils accessing the same class at different times. Obviously, synchronous sessions are harder to organize and they don’t enable much time for practice. But still, it’s important to find some time for online classes because this allows for prompt feedback. What’s more, it helps to maintain social connections and feel part of a group. Hence, education nowadays is focused on balancing between different formats of online learning.
4. Making learning more interactive
To assimilate knowledge effectively, students need more opportunities than just reading and listening. Experts say that it’s essential for them to actively process the information being presented. Hence, teachers start using some platforms that allow them to give brief quizzes in classes. This form of retrieval practice helps pupils to absorb and remember the material better. According to the information from a successful writing service for university essays, some of the most commonly used interactive activities used by teachers are online games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Million Dollar Quiz, and Slot Machines. What’s more, some videos and interactive presentations are also frequently used in different disciplines now.
5. Giving information in brief doses
Researchers argue that in a remote situation, it’s better to limit the number of instructions students are getting within a session. As some studies show, their engagement decreases significantly after watching 9-12 minutes of a video. So experts recommend organizing 15-20 minute sessions instead of 45- or 60-minute online classes. They say, breaking up the information takes advantage of a so-called “spacing effect”, which enhances learning efficiency, just like special study music. Such an approach was impossible to implement before the era of remote learning.
Is distance learning effective?
Surprisingly enough, there is evidence that learning online can be more effective in some ways. Some research revealed that students retain 25-60% more information in remote settings compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Probably, it happens so because individuals can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading some concepts.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of this learning format varies in different age groups. Younger children require a structured environment because they are easily distracted, while older students can get the full benefit of online learning being on their own.
Distance learning forced instructors to admit that most of their education practices were outdated. Therefore, they currently learn how to use up-to-minute technology that can benefit student’s growth. Nowadays, technology-based education broadens horizons and creates endless learning opportunities, which is a great advantage for both students and educators. All in all, remote learning has rapidly changed the course of education and become a ‘new normal’.