Remote learning reached unprecedented levels in the year 2020, and its relevance has increased even more this year. We have all agreed to the undeniable fact of the education system that online learning is the new future. Yes, we still have our minds set on the traditional, classroom-based education system but can never be certain when a pandemic like the one we are reeling under would hit us again. Human development shouldn’t stop education, therefore, should be continuous and of high quality. Hence, the need to ramp up the online learning infrastructure is backed by robust policies.
But, to make anything fruitful, one must identify, address and eliminate problems associated with the objective. Remote learning is not without its own issues, and the world at large is trying to deal with them effectively. The urgency of this matter is doubtless because the global education order is changing as we speak, and if remote learning doesn’t keep up, then its stakeholders will suffer.
Let us appraise ourselves of some of these problems.
The authenticity of the content
Today, there are so many platforms where you can find online courses and learning material. Considering the sheer number of these platforms, it becomes all the more challenging to determine the authenticity of the content provided. Lack of peer review, non-affiliation with an authentic organization, and public editorial access, etc are some of the many problems. Accessibility of content is one thing; accessibility of good content, another thing. The massive amount of online courses and reading material will not add anything significant to education: students won’t be learning anything worthwhile, information may be plagiarised or false, and whatnot. Content perusal being unorganized, and, in many cases, completely missing can severely affect quality education.
Digital literacy is of paramount importance for remote learning. So many platforms have emerged to conduct online sessions such as MS Teams and Google Classrooms. Each of these platforms comes with a range of features such as Screen Sharing and assignment upload. As we speak, more and more features are being added to these platforms, and learners are expected to keep up. Population with weak socio-economic backgrounds do not have the requisite access to digital platforms–this in itself serves as a counterintuitive outcome of online remote learning.
Inadequate or nil interactive learning
Online classes can be accessed by anyone so long as they have the Internet. However, that in itself does not make them interactive. Online remote learning comes at the cost of the physical classroom environment. There is no direct interaction between students and teachers, and where there is, the quality of interaction is often below standard. Online classes can be accessed by anyone so long as they have the Internet. Also, teachers are unable to personally focus on the students as the latter become unresponsive. There needs to be reciprocation in order to learn effectively. Many software has tried remedying the problem by incorporating features such as virtual whiteboard and share screen. Yet, the problem persists.
Lack of physical supervision results in students getting easily distracted. Many online courses, for example, are self-paced which means you have flexibility in its completion. On the flip side, this also means that you can easily procrastinate. In a classroom setting, students are under the direct supervision of the teacher which means lesser opportunities to be distracted. There is so much to invest our minds on the Internet now. It is generally advised that students should enroll in those classes and sessions which are time-bound and duly assessed from time to time. This will ensure consistency in learning at the student’s end.
Recognition of online remote learning programs
As I noted earlier, there are many online courses crafted by reputed universities and organizations. Certificate courses are very popular these days; in fact, many universities have begun offering online degree programs. The quality of many of these programs is actually very good, but there is one problem–not every country recognizes them. Online certificate programs have amassed a large number of registrations but they often end up making a marginal difference because of the differential treatment offered to them in different places. Remote learning can only be encouraged if there is anything substantial to gain–and knowledge is not enough; authentication is also vital.
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