Technology is soon becoming the backbone of our educational systems, as students have already adopted blended learning and become accustomed to online learning tools. Blended learning is a combination of in-person classes, online assignments, and enhanced communication through several online channels. Blended learning or hybrid learning gives students the benefits of both individualized and in-class learning, allowing educators to reach a broader range of students. Traditional learning models cause many issues for distance learning, as students cannot gain access to class updates, communicate with teachers, or access learning resources. The leaps and bounds that technology has taken in the last decade have pushed us past these traditional models and towards a more comprehensive and engaging learning strategy; Virtual Learning.
Currently, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced educational institutions to experiment within online learning and find solutions in the absence of in-person classes. This unexpected event has transformed many aspects of life, including how we educate students and how heavily we rely on technology to keep us all connected. New software, such as Zoom or google class, has eased the transition into online communications, but students must sacrifice the advantages of in-person collaboration, class participation, and discussion. In a class full of students it is easier for educators to access how engaging their material is and change their teaching style or pace accordingly. In shifting towards online learning educators must utilize online communication platforms to keep in tune with their students and prevent any online disconnect. The question is, are our software programs capable of performing the same functionalities of in-person classes and maintain effective communication?
In addition, younger children may struggle with self-motivated learning and staying connected with their friends during this shift. Online schooling has extinguished the social aspect of going to school and resulted in increased feelings of loneliness. During unprecedented times, students must take care of their mental health and stay connected to their classmates. Students and teachers must outline a strategy that incorporates in-person communication and online learning and demand technology from online learning platforms to aid this shift.
As technology continues to advance and more people step into a virtual world, our education systems must adapt and find ways to integrate technology. Online education often creates a digital divide between those who can afford advanced technology and those who can’t. Recent events have amplified this divide and educational institutions must ensure their platforms are easily accessible and compatible with devices of different capacities.
There are many different spheres of education that need to be considered when moving to an online platform and students must be fully supported in this transition. A more immersive platform is needed to give students the same opportunities they were given in F2F schooling. Accomplishing a hybrid model that incorporates both online resources and in-person advantages will allow students to continue comprehensive learning. How can we build a hybrid model that allows kids to socialize, collaborate, and continue experiential learning?