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Online learning, yay or nay?

It can be safely said that we live in odd times.

School’s out and blue screens are in! That tells us a lot of the not-so-ordinary times we are in.

As we are aware, Covid-19 forced the closure of schools and institutions of higher learning, pivoting learning from the physical classrooms to virtual ones online with students as-is, where-is.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

This heralded a whole new experience in learning, which many admit are still learning to cope with the transition. The process has been anything but smooth especially when it comes to school-going children and by extension, their parents/guardians who have higher levels of stress stacked on them.

Notwithstanding that, this forced transition to digital learning did bring to fore that it is more efficient and the way forward for education in this 21st Century. It opens up a myriad of possibilities to take the dull greyness of brick-and-mortar learning several notches up to something vibrant, interesting and even fun!

Hardcopy textbooks are replaced by softcopy versions in PDF formats. Colourful slides with eye-catching graphics replace white-chalk blackboards. And videos and podcasts replace the monotonous drone of teachers prone to the Shakespearean-era’s soliloquy-way of delivery.

Observing my siblings’ grappling with the transition to digital learning, I do realise that the process can be daunting as it is not just about learning school curriculum subjects but first learning to clear the technological hurdles, which can be likened to a puny first-timer attempting a high-jump.

Picture this. A few clicks on the keyboard and a panic-stricken high decibel shrieks “muuuummy, the screen is blaaack…’ Yes, young Einstein has logged himself out of Zoom!

Children, they learn fast though. Those initial setbacks will be bridge under water soon enough and what I was amazingly surprised was how this online learning process worked like magic in instilling discipline. No rotan needed. No bargaining or incentivising required.

After the initial resistance to wake up on time and turn on the computer, it soon became routine and like on auto-mode, the children shaped up to be more responsible, self-motivated, and also developed to be good in managing time well. Over time, the traits of reliability and being dependable become apparent.

While these augur well in shaping and preparing the young ones with essential values, the downside to online learning that I noticed is the deteriorating communication skills, the missing teamwork, and the emphasis on theoretical learning versus smart problem solving way of learning.

Learning tend to be weighted on theories as these can be easily presented and wow-ed with slides. The crucial and integral problem solving and application in the real world is somewhat downplayed.

These become the inevitable heavy price to pay stemming from the lack of social interaction, opportunities for collaboration, and the street smart cultivation lost in transition.

There are pros and cons on online learning. If only it can be as easy as just taking on the upside and discarding the downside. In reality, it is not possible. So, for me who’s sitting on the fence whether in yay or nay for online learning, it will be back to conventional brick-and-mortar should I want to pursue a Master’s Degree. I would rather be on safe and secure grounds than be in the unknown technology bubble.

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