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WHAT IS ONLINE EDUCATION?

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What Exactly is Online Education?

Online education is the way of teaching and learning through the sources of the internet. This happens when the teachers and students are not physically near each other. Hence, the students are educated through the transmission of audio and video with the help of electronic media. The reading materials are also shared as softcopies rather than using textbooks.

“Online education is the method of learning through virtual means using the computer and internet to communicate with teachers/ students and access learning material.”

Being citizens of the modern era, you don’t need much detail about this as you know how the internet and computers work. So simply, the teachers and students gather at online learning platforms where they can see and talk with each other virtually. This is the main idea of online education.

Current Situation of Online Education

Most countries; even the less developed nations have adapted to the method of online education during the lockdown period. Since then, it has continued to be used by most tutors and educational institutes as it is the best way to stay safe and learn during this time. To be more accurate, the number of schools and students adapting to this new method increases in number. Not only the schools, various universities, and other institutions are promoting online courses at present. Nevertheless, getting accustomed to online education could not be so easy for those students who have been following traditional methods of learning all their lifetime.

How Does it Work?

Although it may have been quite an effort to create a virtual classroom a few years ago, it has been an affordable reality at present. There are many useful software applications that you can easily download and install to support this need. The computer industry is being one of the pioneers in society at present. They have created and developed many useful software for students and teachers to interact through the internet.

The first important thing necessary for online education is the availability of online learning platforms for the students to see and talk with their tutors. Zoom is one such commonly used application that can be installed in mobile phones and laptops for this purpose. It allows you to see the teachers on screen and talk to them through the use of the device’s microphone. The learning documents can even be shared on the screen, making it an ideal method for online learning. We will discuss more of these in Types of Resources for Online Learning.

In a normal one-to-one education system, the students have textbooks and libraries to access reference material. Online education focuses more on softcopies of books that can be shared through the screens. Due to the difficulty of accessing stores and libraries, most students also tend to search online for reading material. Hence, the Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of books are popular in this education system. Although it was quite common to find PDFs of books a few years back, they were not much used as at present.

Pros and Cons of Online Education at a Glance

As in every system, online education also has its advantages and disadvantages. Even though you may not have given it a thought, the physical method of education also has its own benefits and drawbacks. But for now, let’s focus on some of the main facts related to online learning.

Pros:

  • Can record and save lessons for later
  • You can learn at your own pace
  • Students and teachers can mutually adjust the schedules
  • You can be in the comfort of your own home and learn
  • Ability to see the notes clearly on screen than on board
  • Easy to submit work online
  • Less paper consumption and lower waste generation
  • Can attend lessons regularly due to no traveling

Cons:

  • Access to the required technology could be challenging for some
  • Power failures may keep you away from class
  • Online sessions could be boring
  • Less guiding through lessons by teachers
  • Facing exams online could be challenging
  • Sitting in the same place for long may cause health issues
  • Strain in eyes due to staring at the screen
  • Less interaction with friends and hence less appealing

These are some of the most straightforward aspects of online learning/ teaching. You can refer to the Positive and Negative Effects of Learning Online for a more detailed description of these pros and cons.

The Challenges of Online Education

Learning online is surely challenging for students. It is because most of the responsibility of attending the sessions and grasping the lessons is up to them. This increases the learning responsibility of the student. Rather than the skill of the tutor, online learners need to focus on their own understanding of the content. Since learning is a social process with adequate interaction with peers, online learning may let down the learners. Overcoming all these physical, mental, and social impacts during the pandemic and carrying on with studies is the most challenging task of students at present.

It is not only the students that face difficulties, but also the teachers as well. Being in the comfort of their own homes may make the lecturers less productive than when attending school or campus. Very often they may have difficulty in expressing themselves due to the limitations in technology. Hence, sustaining the quality of lessons delivered is a key challenge in online teaching.

What Lies Ahead in the System of Online Education?

The world has always been developing rapidly ever since the industrial revolution. With the emerging online education system, there would be more computer-based training and distance education. At present, a lot of attention is drawn towards awarding degrees and higher education diplomas completely through online courses. This is where the world is leading us at present. At present, the educational system is trying to rely more on the same to fulfill the requirement of rendering uninterrupted educational services for the student community.

With the approach of learning through the internet, the computer literacy of the younger generation would increase rapidly. This can lead to different aspects when considering the ethical behavior of the youngsters. However, if used wisely, this technology would help them to get access to more knowledge. The future of online education is a broad topic that different people can interpret in different ways. So let’s leave it as an open-end for you to think more about the possibilities of the future of online education.

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