COVID-19 and the shift from brick-and-mortar to an E-learning model

Covid-19 is a deadly and infectious disease that has had a significant impact on the global economy. This tragedy has also jolted the education sector, and this fear is likely to reverberate around the world. Many schools and colleges were forced to close temporarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. Several areas have been affected around the world. In-person instruction has been phased out at many schools, colleges, and universities. According to the researchers, it is unlikely that normal teaching will resume anytime soon. Because social distancing is so prevalent at this point, it will affect learning opportunities. Educational institutions are scrambling to find solutions to this difficult situation. These circumstances highlight the importance of scenario planning for academic institutions. This is a situation that necessitates humanity and cooperation. There is a critical need to protect and save our students, faculty, academic staff, communities, societies, and the country as a whole. E-learning is associated with several arguments. Some of the arguments for online pedagogy include accessibility, affordability, flexibility, learning pedagogy, life-long learning, and policy. It is claimed that online learning is simple to use and can even reach rural and remote areas. It is regarded as a less expensive mode of education due to lower costs of transportation, lodging, and the overall cost of institution-based learning. Another intriguing aspect of online learning is the learner’s ability to schedule or plan their time for the completion of courses available online. Blended learning and flipped classrooms are created by combining face-to-face lectures with technology. This type of learning environment can increase students’ learning potential. Students can learn at any time and from any location, gaining new skills and paving the way for life-long learning. In this fast-paced world, the government recognizes the growing importance of online learning.

The severe outbreak of Corona Virus disease may prompt us to add one more argument in favor of online learning, namely, that online learning serves as a solution in times of crisis.

Online education is no longer an option, but a requirement.

Because of the severe outbreak of this global pandemic, the majority of the world is under quarantine. Covid-19, and thus many cities, have become phantom cities, and the effects can be seen in schools, colleges, and universities as well. All of this online teaching and online learning can be referred to as a solution for the crisis of the time. COVID-19 has forced educational institutions to shift from an offline to an online mode of instruction. This crisis will force institutions that were previously resistant to change to embrace modern technology. This disaster will demonstrate the lucrative side of online teaching and learning. We can teach to a large number of students at any time and in any part of the world by using online teaching modes. All institutions must scramble for various online pedagogical approaches and try to use technology more effectively. Many universities around the world have fully digitalized their operations in response to the current crisis. In this chaos, online learning is emerging as the winner of the games. As a result, improving the quality of online teaching-learning is critical at this stage. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, online education in Chinese universities has grown at an exponential rate. Normal classrooms were transformed overnight into e-classrooms, implying that educators changed their entire pedagogical approach to address new market conditions and adapt to changing circumstances. During this difficult period, the concern is not whether online teaching-learning methods can provide quality education, but rather how academic institutions will be able to adopt online learning on such a large scale.

Any educational institution in the world will benefit from a lack of resistance to change. They will be evaluated based on their ability to adapt to changes in such a short period as well as their ability to maintain quality. The reputation of educational institutions is at stake and being scrutinized. Their adaptability is demonstrated by how well they behave and maintain the quality of their education during the crisis. The only viable solution is to transition from face-to-face lectures to online classes. Academic institutions would not be able to convert all of their college curricula into online resources overnight. The three most difficult challenges for online teaching are distance, scale, and personalized teaching and learning. Institutional innovation can only help us deal with this pandemic. Because there is a need for a quick transition to online learning mode, the following products can be extremely useful in such situations: (a) Gmail, (b) Google Forms, (c) Calendars, (d) G-Drive, (e) Google Hangouts, (f) Google Jam board and Drawings, (g) Google Classroom, and (h) Open Board Software which is not a Google product, but helps in recording meetings as files, as well as Microsoft Teams. These tools can be used successfully as an alternative to the Brick-and-Mortar classes form.

Online Education and Learning Issues

There are numerous technologies available for online education, but they can be difficult to use at times. These difficulties and problems associated with modern technology include downloading errors, installation issues, login issues, audio and video problems, and so on. Online teaching can be uninteresting for students at times. Students never have time to do online learning because it requires so much time and flexibility. Personal attention is another major issue with online learning. Students want two-way interaction, which can be difficult to implement at times. The learning process will not be fully realized until students put what they have learned into practice. Online content can be all theoretical at times, making it difficult for students to practice and learn effectively. A major issue is also the poor quality of the course content. Students believe that the main barriers to online learning are a lack of community, technical issues, and difficulties understanding instructional goals. According to one study, students are not adequately prepared to balance their work, family, and social lives with their study lives in an online learning environment. Students were also found to be underprepared for a variety of e-learning and academic-type competencies. In addition, students have a low level of preparedness when it comes to using Learning Management Systems.

Possible Solutions to these Problems

There are many issues associated with online education, but we can not ignore its benefits in times of crisis. We can always find solutions to these problems. Technical difficulties can be overcome by prerecording video lectures, testing the content, and always having a Plan B ready in case the teaching-learning process is disrupted. Dynamic, interesting, and interactive online courses should be developed. Teachers should give students time limits and reminders to keep them alert and attentive. Attempts should be made to humanize the learning process as much as possible. Students should be given individual attention so that they can easily adapt to this learning environment. To communicate with students, use social media and various group forums. When it becomes difficult to reach out to students via texts, various messaging apps, video calls, and so on—content should be such that students can practice and hone their skills. The quality of the courses should be continuously improved, and teachers should strive to give their all. Online programs should be designed to be innovative, interactive, relevant, student-centered, and group-based. Educators must devote a significant amount of time to developing effective strategies for providing online instruction. Effective online instructions encourage learner feedback, ask questions, and broaden the learner’s horizon on course content. Through online instructions, institutions must focus on pedagogical issues and emphasize collaborative learning, case learning, and project-based learning.

The challenge for educational institutions is not only to find and use new technology but also to reimagine their education, thereby assisting students and academic staff who are looking for digital literacy guidance.

To summarize

While E-learning poses some challenges for educational institutions, for the time being, it is regarded as a less expensive mode of education due to lower costs of transportation, lodging, and the overall cost of institution-based learning. It is the most effective way of learning if learners can schedule or plan their time for the completion of online courses. Could we say, at this point, that we are witnessing a shift from the traditional brick-and-mortar way of learning that has been practiced for millennia to a new era of cloud learning?

Source: https://journals.sagepub.com

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