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The pandemic put online education into high gear, so everyone had to adapt. From elementary schools to universities, the transition to online education went smoothly around the world. Or did it?
Switching to online learning brings a lot of benefits, but it also comes with a few challenges.
Let’s lay out the ups and downs of online learning and see how we can enhance the former and prevent the latter.
Pros of online learning
There are plenty of benefits when it comes to online education. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on the most important ones. Online learning gives us more control over time, money, and the learning methods we use.
1. Time efficiency
The first thing you’ll notice once you switch to online learning is how much more free time you have. A lot of time is spent commuting and searching for your classroom. By learning online, you get a few extra hours a day to do something else.
This also means that you can achieve better class attendance. You don’t have to worry about being late. All you have to do is log in and you’re in class.
On top of everything, you get access to learning materials outside of class. It’s easier than ever to record lectures, so you can catch up on your curriculum on your own.
The second effect you’ll feel after a month or so is all the extra money in your account. The two biggest money drains with traditional learning are transportation and housing. By not having to commute or move closer to your uni, you get to save some extra cash.
Additionally, by switching to online learning, we remove the need for all that extra paper and plastic. If we look through the lens of money and eco-friendliness, it’s a win-win situation.
Since online learning is done in a digital, internet-infused environment, the pool of learning methods is expanding rapidly. In short – the days of chalkboards are gone. Now, we have videos, interactive whiteboards, games, online quizzes, virtual classrooms. You name it!
Online education gives us the opportunity to do better research. It also gives us the option to interact and collaborate with people from anywhere in the world. Not to mention, you can always get a second opinion on a topic by just googling.
Just be careful when you source your information. There’s a LOT of nonsense out there.
4. Resourcefulness and critical thinking
The internet brought us to a strange point in time. We no longer have to struggle to obtain information. Instead, the challenge is in distinguishing legit sources from bad ones.
Online learning taught us to filter the spam out and get to the core of things faster. We learned to sort out our data and to actually focus on solving problems instead of memorizing definitions and formulas. This is a crucial step towards a critical thinking mindset.
Cons of online learning
The switch from traditional learning comes with a few challenges as well. Distractions, tech issues, loneliness – those are the main hurdles you’ll probably stumble upon at least once. So, let’s talk about them.
Along with education, hackers and scammers have also evolved. Without getting too technical, let’s talk about the main issues and how you can solve/avoid them.
- Update your apps and your OS whenever possible.
- Store your data securely on a third-party cloud, especially if you and your group use a lot of sensitive data.
- Double-check the links you get via email. Phishing attacks are on the rise, and you can never be too safe.
- Never share your login info. Sharing your credentials puts you in all sorts of danger, so it’s always best to avoid doing so.
Cybersecurity mostly revolves around common sense and the way you use your computer. But there are tools out there that can help you out. After all, you don’t have to be an IT engineer to stay secure online.
2. Distractions everywhere
The Internet is a powerful tool, but it’s also a great source of distractions that lead to all sorts of issues. In most cases, getting distracted translates to missing deadlines and poor time management in general.
Video games, social networks, forums, YouTube, text messages from friends – all of these will keep you from focusing, no matter how strong-willed you are.
The best course of action would be to not keep your phone on your desk while you study. Additionally, you can use a site blocker if you get distracted easily. Lastly, the best way to avoid distractions is to set aside special time for learning.
One of the least talked about aspects of online learning is the sense of loneliness that sneaks in. Listening to online lectures often leaves little time for interaction.
Yes, we talk over Zoom and Teams all the time, but no in-person contact can leave a mark on your mental health. That’s why it’s important to make time for your friends, family, and yourself as well.
Every day, try to spend active time away from the screen. Take up a hobby, start meditating or pick up a sport. It’s essential to keep your social life going, no matter how hard it seems.
4. Physical health issues
Online learning is great. But in a more physical sense, it translates to a lot of sitting and staring at a screen. As a result, we all get back pain issues earlier, our eyes get tired faster, and we experience sleep deprivation.
There’s no quick fix for this. You need to find a physical activity you actually like doing. It doesn’t have to be a sport. Chores are great as well.
What’s important is that you move your body as much as you can.
Online learning – keep the pros, work on the cons
The benefits of online learning outweigh the downsides by a lot. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore them.
Lucky for all of us, the challenges of online learning are solvable. With a little planning and pre-emptive thinking, you’ll be able to enjoy your online learning experience in no time.
Stay safe and have fun learning!
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