It may have helped, but it is not enough
By EG Manilag, Staff Writer
It is important to understand that no type of learning model is ever perfect. Even the traditional model (classroom learning) has a lot of drawbacks. But, it is the best option available—whatever level of education you are in. However, because of this pandemic, post-secondary students have had no choice but to move into asynchronous online learning. This new type of learning model has been more of a pain than a gain—especially for me. Although I learned many things, it could have been done better through the traditional classroom model. There are a few reasons why I think distance and online learning are unproductive:
Lack of interpersonal communication
We all know that in our online lectures we have a discussion board/thread. The main purpose of this is to provide us students a place to interact, discuss components of the course, and post relevant questions. Clearly, this is extremely helpful. But one thing to keep in mind is that only a few students use this function, unless the professor makes it mandatory (which hasn’t happened often to me). Why is it that only a small percentage of students use this function? I think this happens because students are afraid to post something permanent—it is easier to simply ask a question to the prof. We also tend to see the boards as unimportant because it is mostly just students interacting and discussions can easily go sideways. It is much better to direct questions to the professor via email—or just look to the internet for answers. This is viewed as a problem by many, considering that students miss out on gaining communication skills through conversations with other pupils (and the professor).
Skill-based and hands-on learning translates poorly
This hassle is especially tiresome for nursing students, for example, who usually spend a decent amount of their time learning in labs. Many courses require a hands-on learning (e.g., food management courses) so learning them virtually simply won’t be as effective (or viable). Just like the types of learning styles, some learn better when experiencing or doing things (tactile learners), while others learn better at seeing things (spatial learners). For tactile learners, learning virtually could be a hassle. Furthermore, instant feedback is essential for many of these courses—a thing that is not consistently possible in asynchronous online learning.
Lack of motivation
It is really hard to learn (or spend time on education) during difficult times. In extreme circumstances, it is like studying for a midterm while mourning. Unfortunately, this extreme scenario is true for some. This pandemic has really hit some hard. Not having a physical classroom makes it harder to focus.
Computer illiteracy could pose a challenge to learning
To attend class online, you need to have some basic computer navigation skills: the ability to log in, participate in virtual classes, submit homework digitally, and communicate with professors and students. Taking a quiz online can be a disaster—accidentally clicking the wrong button could instantly end it. It is not like a test paper; if you make a mistake you cannot necessarily easily erase it.
Learning in a new environment, especially in these times, feels like being a lab rat. Online learning, although long attempted, is not yet as effective as it should be. There is still a lot of room for improvement.