Increasing social isolation and shutting down of schools post the COVID-19 pandemic has made technology the be-all and end-all for everyone. From shopping to studying, everything went virtual. While addressing the need of keeping education consistent, experts have missed out on the downside of virtual education in current times.
The pandemic changed the face of education forever. Globally, more than 1.2 million children in the world have moved to online education. The rise of e-learning has also given way to digital learning platforms across government and private educational platforms. However, such measures do not overshadow the downside of rising e-learning platforms.
What Are The Downsides Of Going Digital?
Online education has limited interactions between children and educators. Since there is minimal face-to-face interaction from both ends, even though it's undeniable that technology does excite students, their downside is that technology opens a plethora of options to the students, and they can be easily distracted. Students these days are tech-savvy and easily find games and other information on the web that can distract them.
Excessive screentime can trigger overstimulation or dysregulation of emotions. Increased exposure to screen consequentially reduces sleep time for the students. Even though there is no concrete study yet that provides the ideal screen time for students, the availability of education on digital platforms has accelerated the screen time for students. With no alternative left to students, parents and teachers must be alert to recognise the initial symptoms of overstimulation, like unmanageable stress and difficulty regulating moods swings.
Independent learning makes students develop analytical thinking skills, whereas collective problem-solving increases harmony and brotherhood among children. They learn to develop the skills of working in a team and taking collective responsibility. For adequate development of a child, a classroom learning experience is a must. However, online educational platforms threaten that students might get too involved in virtual education and lose interest in classroom learning.
Even though technology has been a constant friend to children in contemporary times, it cannot be compared to the interpersonal learning experience of a physical classroom. While students are familiar with digital advancements, many teachers lack technical expertise. During the first pandemic wave, when online education had just been accepted as a norm, teachers were duly trained to operate education platforms. Yet, teachers were required to practice to get used to new methods of educating.
Most educational applications are designed for individual use. Therefore, instead of peer interaction or interpersonal interaction between students and teachers, children become more absorbed in a computer program. The consequence of such a learning system is the underdevelopment of communication skills amongst children. The younger generation is already lacking in interpersonal communication skills. Teachers must make an effort to use education apps for interactive virtual classroom learning experiences. Most workplaces are looking for employees that maintain cordial social relationships. Therefore, lack of communication in school classrooms is a legitimate concern.
While on one hand, knowledge and technology complement each other, both of them are not created equal. Students who have easy access to electronic devices are more familiar with them than those who do not have such access. Children belonging to a financially sound background have the upper hand over those from economically backward families. The disparity further depends on the educational divide between children coming from differing backgrounds. Thus, we need to think if progress on a learning application means an enhanced knowledge about the subject?
The information available does not transform into knowledge unless one possesses adequate skills. Proper research and the correct interpretation of the study material are in demand to enable knowledge. The world wide web offers a plethora of studies on a single subject; therefore, it disables a person's creativity of thought since it does not push them to think out of the box and try various alternatives.
Short Attention Span In Children
Technology is a boon when it is available. However, several households do not have the means to access smartphones, tablets and laptops. Then, it becomes a hindrance and further widens the digital divide. Relying on a computer can be problematic without a stable internet connection.
In modern times, students must have proficiency in more than one language. Even though there is more than one application readily available for language learning, the practicality of the subject is missing. A new language cannot be learnt without using it every day amongst peers and social groups. The student misses out on grammatical aspects and tense formations in a language. Mobile applications offer minimal or no feedback. Mostly, all mobile applications have automated feedback based on the score of the practitioner. Therefore, learning a language can be more difficult online than in physical classes.
Attention spans across age groups have drastically declined since digitalisation has taken over. When every tiny detail is available at their fingertips, people have lost the habit of going through large textbooks looking for details. A short attention span is a termite that will eat up the younger generation, as it would gradually lead to loss of concentration.
Online learning requires self-motivation and discipline. Amongst young students, motivation and discipline are habits challenging to teach. Therefore, they require constant adult supervision. Working parents cannot devote enough time to their children, thus leaving them on their own. One should learn to balance work and play to maintain online learning as a healthy and continuous practice.
Since online education focuses more on the theoretical aspect of learning, the much-needed practice and practical expertise. On e-learning platforms, students are made to listen to podcasts and watch videos and documentaries but are not provided with enough equipment and facility practice experiments. Online learning curbs students' chances to learn under professionals; thus, when they step into the work field, they only possess textbook knowledge of the subject and cannot make dynamic decisions.
In uncertain times, online education is the only way for students to remain in touch with their studies. Schools have shut down for longer durations, and reopening is uncertain and not looked forward to by the parents since they are worried about the children's vulnerability to the virus.