Online education and Human interaction
In my earlier blog “Technology as the enabler for education”, I wrote about how technology has been an enabler for access to education. The improvement in digital learning tools have facilitated personalized learning with easy-to-access information, especially amid Covid-19. However, we need to be cognizant of the technology pitfalls in online education, and I will highlight such pitfalls from the learner’s perspective in this blog.
There’s no denying that technology has expanded the accessibility of online learning and allowed learners to continue learning with easy access to content, and teachers to effectively take classes virtually with the help of advanced learning aids. However, the education sector has taken an abrupt shift amid Covid-19 by moving from traditional classrooms to online classes and webinars.
The missing ingredient – Human interaction
The mass move to virtual learning during the pandemic has highlighted the most important technologies pitfall – Human interaction. While students have successfully handled the sudden technology switch, many students especially the younger ones have shown fatigue in online education recently. Students are missing out on human interaction, which is the crucial element in developing well-rounded and competent learners.
The in-person learning approach provides students an opportunity to hear other perspectives, ask intriguing questions in real-time, and to be involved in a lively discussion. Students observe body language and emotions of other kids. These all are important aspects with respect to overall student development.
With a technology-centered education that is heavily moderated by teachers to avoid chaos in front of parents, students are not given a chance to interact with other kids and also freely express themselves. Frequent tech glitches and time lags due to internet connection issues further demotivates students in a virtual online environment. Additionally, students may not even be able to see other students due to the small screen and multiple participants in the gallery. As a result of the inability to view each other and use non-verbal communication causes students to disengage, and it often results in less active participation by students. In the virtual learning environment, these crucial aspects of education are removed from the equation, and thus learning becomes just another mundane routine with teachers carrying out monotonous class sessions and students just becoming mute spectators.
While technological advancements have been effective learning aids in the hands of educators, striking a balance between the use of technology and effective learning will continue to be crucial. We have to remember that the ultimate objective of using digital learning tools should remain focused around increasing student engagement, thus facilitating personalized learning with easy-to-access information. While Covid-19 has rushed adaptation of technology, the virtual online learning environment needs to be planned efficiently by striking a balance between technology aids and the engagement of learners.
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