Education Shifts to Virtual PlatformsBy Cas Biekmann | Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:33
Changes in society often happen when events without precedent take place. COVID-19 is one such events. Although widespread policies of isolation have caused great damage to the world economy, they have allowed society to try out new approaches to daily established routines. In the case of education, virtual teaching is a concept that might be here to stay.
El Economista reported that according to a survey, 70 percent of the people questioned would like to learn online, whereas 30 percent prefer a hybrid of online and live classes. In Mexico, 25 million students are already learning online, since there are no other options to keep education going. The infrastructure to teach appropriately has proven a challenge. UNAM’s Political and Social Sciences school, for instance, experienced a number of issues with its online teaching portal. For those who already offer online classes, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity: "Online and remote education is going to skyrocket and it is proven that when users try online classes they hardly return to the traditional method," said Andrés Fleiz, Product Director at virtial school Bedu.
Virtual education offers plenty of advantages. Sessions can be recorded easily, digital materials are much easier to distribute and edit and if somebody needs to be brought in from a different part of the world for a guest lecture, distance becomes meaningless in the virtual sphere.
Nevertheless, virtual education has some disadvantages. The Washington Post mentions a few of these: security, correct ergonomics, concerns regarding collected data of students and effectiveness. Some teachers might not be comfortable teaching online and some students might not get used to it. One of the most important points, however, remains the social aspect. Most students will readily discuss how they miss their friends. Furthermore, school is about emotional development, as well. Without being together with others continuously, children will simply not learn how to deal with essential human interactions. Harvard Business Review argues this extends to university students as well, albeit in a slightly different manner: identifying with a peer group is not only pleasant for socializing but a key part of the university experience – it pushes students to excel via mutual competition, as well.
In 2013, Harvard Business Review cited experts claiming that online education was ripe for massive disruption. This has not yet been the case in 2020. The current pandemic is testing the experiment at an unseen speed, however. Once the crisis subsides, results will become clear. Will the world be ready for online education to be widely adopted, will it return to its old status quo or will a new hybrid form of education become the norm?