The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered our mindset in all aspects of life. From socially distanced public outings to virtual work experiences, many people are confused about what to do next.
College students in particular, have taken on virtual learning in a mission to further their knowledge and position themselves for future opportunities. However, it is possible that these opportunities that they’re working so hard for may dwindle while virtual learning leaves a questionable imprint on higher education.
As A Senior In College, Here Is How I Feel
Since my entrance into college, I looked forward to my senior year. From having the first pick at classes, executive positions in on-campus organizations, and my eventual departure, I knew senior year was going to be different. And, let me you, I was definitely right. While my school welcomed students back to campus for an alternative experience, I quickly opted out. Instead of enrolling in a hybrid blend of in-person and online courses, I decided to occupy a plush seat at “Zoom University.”
In previous in-person classes, there was a conversation between students and professors, but now there is a PowerPoint followed by a farewell. In-person communication is a huge proponent of learning and not having it will take a toll on many students. The college experience is designed to be unforgettable, but this may be one people will not want to remember.
Regardless of the expectations that schools and political professionals promoted, the Fall 2020 semester was a “learning experience.” However, it was more of a learning experience for educators, public health professionals, and administrative staff, rather than students, to adapt to our new normal.
According to The New York Times, nearly 3,000 colleges found that of those with firm plans, 19% are opened primarily in person; 27% were primarily online; and 16% were, a hybrid mix. The article further states, schools that brought students back to campus quickly ran into problems controlling their behavior, which led to increased COVID-19 infection rates. When looking back on this “learning experience,” many students regret paying the same amount of money for a college experience that was short handed.
Statistics Of Virtual Education
Online education has been around for years, but this is the first time where it is the most popular method of learning engagement. With this sudden shift away from classrooms across the globe, some wonder whether the adoption of online learning will persist post-pandemic, and how that would impact the worldwide education market. According to We Forum, there are currently more than 1.2 billion students in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic. As a result, education has changed strikingly, with the distinctive rise of e-learning.
The article further states, there was high growth and adoption in education technology before COVID-19. In 2019, global edtech investments reached US$18.66 billion, and the market for online education is projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. From language apps, video conferencing, and online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19.
The Future Of Learning
The argument that the future of education will be online is two-edged. While millions of students across the globe are engaging in virtual instruction, many of them are not fully comprehending the material. According to Peaks Media, a disadvantage to students is the lack of one-on-one support. Furthermore, students may find themselves faltering for further explanation when they don’t grasp a concept, especially if they are already behind on a subject.
Let’s also not forget about households that cannot provide a stable internet connection for online learning. According to Consumer Reports, some households include parent(s) who work from home and do not have a network strong enough for family members to be online at the same time without technical difficulties. Almost 16 million students and 10 percent of teachers lack adequate internet or computing devices at home, claims the article. And, unfortunately, minority households are among the most affected. In order for virtual learning to be our future, it needs to be equally accessible for all students.
I recently asked an adjunct professor, Nichole Compton, what she thought about virtual education and here is what she said, “Less energy is expended with online classes, most of the assignments end up being remote or routine and not conducive to actual retained information or actual learning. Students are more likely to just be going through the motions. As humans, we have five senses for a reason.”
Compton explained that “active learning most times requires at least three of those sensory faculties to be engaged to actually learn. Further, not all students learn equally. Some require writing, some typing, and dictation, others need to hear and see what is being taught. Charging the same price for online and in-person classes is like charging the same price to listen to a song on the radio versus front row seats at a concert.”