The coronavirus outbreak has forced educational institutions to adapt quickly. Everything from assignments, exams to classes have moved online. According to UNESCO’s study, school closures have affected 1.2 billion students worldwide. This includes 67% of the global student population.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, the demand for e-learning solutions is growing. Yet, even before the pandemic, the online learning market was on the rise. According to Global Market Insights, the online learning market is forecasted to grow from $200bn in 2019 to $370bn in 2026. Growth is driven by new technologies, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Also, with smartphones becoming cheaper, and more people having access to the internet, more developers are looking to create solutions for on-the-go learners.
Yet, does that mean online learning is here to stay post-pandemic? Cambridge University already announced it will keep all its lectures online until at least summer 2021. Some universities will have a mixture of online and classroom learning next year. Could this be the new normal?
Below are some of the advantages and challenges to the adoption of online learning.
Time flexibility and accessibility.
According to studies, online material takes about 40-60% less time to learn. This is because, with online learning, students can absorb material at their own pace. It is possible for students to re-read material and speed up through them as they choose. Unlike classroom learning, materials are also available to students 24 hours a day.
E-learning offers students the chance to save on many costs, such as commute and accommodation. Online programs are also generally cheaper. Some platforms, such as edX and Coursera, offer courses from world-class institutions for free. What is more, expensive coursework materials such as textbooks are sometimes available in the form of e-books.
Students not being in the classroom could also lead to more open discussions. This is because students who are intimidated by the traditional classroom environment might voice their opinions online.
Access to technology and internet connection.
In advanced areas, e-learning could be effective because students have access to computers and reliable internet connection. Yet, this isn’t the case in all countries. In Indonesia, for example, only one-third of students have access to a computer for their studies. Thus, the lack of accessibility to reliable technology and internet connection could be a stepping stone to the larger adoption of online learning.
With online learning, there’s always a chance of getting distracted. This is especially the case with younger children. To counter this, it is important to have a clear structure in place. This involves going beyond physical learning methods. Using engaging tools, it is possible to promote collaboration, inclusion and intelligence. According to Mrinal Mohit, COO at ed-tech company BYJU’s, it is important to make learning through technology fun and interactive.
It can be said that online learning will continue to see an uptick post-pandemic. But unless the above-mentioned challenges are addressed, it will be difficult for educational institutions in less developed countries to adopt this style of learning.