Adapting to Online Learning

 

Schooling, as we know it today, can be traced all the way back to the industrial  revolution. This means that the teaching  methods we’ve come to know are roughly  200 years old, and while they served that time  period well enough, they have not kept up  with our fast-paced, ever-evolving society.  Thankfully, mankind has begun to recognise  the need for a transformation in education. “Technology is constantly evolving, so why  aren’t schools?” is a question we often ask  ourselves. There are a few reasons as to why  this is the case, all of which are due to the  public believing there is no need for change  or becoming reluctant to embrace it. The  process is not instantaneous either, which  acts as a disincentive for many. While there  will be challenges along the way, this shift is  inevitable, and we need to help our children  prepare for it. The first step should be teach ing them to be positive, balanced, morally  strong, educated, and critical thinkers. It has  been proven that these are the attributes that  help children become empowered, effective  problem solvers. 

Teaching the youth of our country to be leaders and critical thinkers may seem obvious,  but it is something that we should consider  seriously. Research shows that the top 5 skills  employers look for are the following: critical  thinking and problem solving, teamwork and  collaboration, professionalism and strong  work ethic, oral and written communication,  and leadership.

It is due to this that we can begin to see why  there is a real need for a change in the way we  educate children and young adults. Thank fully, people are beginning to realise that  online learning may be the change we have  been looking for. However, there are some  key questions that need to be answered and  understood before any plans are made: The  first of these questions is “What is the role of  online education?”. Online education is often  thought of as a type of digital content delivery (sending children the content they need  over the internet) and while this is true, it is  not the entire truth. Online education is more  so an internet-based tool that allows for inter action between teachers and students. These  types of tools already exist (Microsoft Teams  and Google Classrooms being pertinent examples); however, most online learning tools  fall short as they lack management systems  that support online learning programmes.

What this means is that, even though we have  online learning tools, we do not have access  to any platforms that allow for a well-man aged, away-from-school learning plan. Secondly, we need to know if online edu cation is going to be effective. Thanks to a  research paper published by the University of  Toronto, we can see that new teaching methods are being enabled by wide-spread digital  tools. These technologies help facilitate deep  learning, highly efficient measurement and  monitoring tools, and individualised content  and pace of study. Does this mean that online  education is fully automated and dehumanised? Absolutely not. However, the perils of  technology may still lead us to ask if it is wise  to expose our child to these online platforms.  Implemented correctly, the benefits and  efficiencies of these technologies can only enhance education. It is important to remember  that learning platforms can be safeguarded  and controlled more easily.

There are also many practical benefits that come with online learning. It allows for the  individualisation of content, the learning  venue will no longer be a key success factor,  learning materials can be edited, improved,  and redistributed at any time, and there are  more opportunities to collaborate with multiple venues.

Lastly, we need to ask how we are going to  adapt to an online learning environment. This  type of transition will take some courage and  commitment from everyone involved, as it  can be daunting. Fortunately, it is a transition  which means that nobody needs to adjust  overnight. We have access to change management strategies which allow us to plot a  path and learn from early adopters who are  currently enjoying the benefits.

The possibilities with online education are  endless and the benefits are plain to see.  However, we still need to figure out how to  implement these systems. It has been pro posed that the best way to introduce online  education is via a hybrid model of education.  A hybrid education allows students to pursue  a combination of online and on-campus  schooling but requires that learning be seam less and continuous despite the venue. This  type of education also facilitates a balance of  screen time, allows further flexibility for every one involved, and leverages the power of an  automated progression monitoring system.

The thought of taking on a task as big as modernising an entire education system can  be quite daunting, but it is possible. As the  world we live in and the technology we use  changes, so must the way we educate the  coming generations. We are living in an era of  change, and it is up to us to ensure that our  children are equipped for the future.