The COVID-19 crisis has turned our lives upside down. Plans to study abroad have had to be postponed, vacations have had to be put on hold, and career moves have had to be shelved. One of the hardest-hit sectors is the education industry, which has since turned to online learning to keep faculties and students safe from the novel coronavirus. So, here are just some of the ways the pandemic has changed education around the world:
Online learning as the new normal
Online education isn’t particularly new, as it was being used in distance learning even before the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has accelerated its adoption, as the education sector makes the shift from face-to-face classes to video calls in order to facilitate learning. In fact, the global e-learning market is forecasted to balloon to $350 billion by 2025, according to market research firm Research and Markets.
The rise of online education comes at a time when many companies have also digitized their workspaces — giving online graduates a unique advantage. After all, degrees from online schools are just as valid as those from physical schools. For instance, graduates with online business administration degrees can easily land jobs in industries like finance management, business analytics, human resources, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals can earn anywhere from $79,200 to $121,750, which proves how equally lucrative these programs can be. On the other hand, those with computer programming or IT backgrounds have likewise experienced a surge in demand, thanks to the move to remote work. These factors just go to show that online learning can be just as effective as traditional learning in terms of building a career.
The rise of virtual learning content
Along with the shift to online learning is the increased support for virtual educational content in school programs. For instance, videocall-facilitated city tours and classroom exchanges are being coordinated for study abroad students to expose them to international experiences even at home. This allows them to broaden their perspective without the risk of catching the coronavirus.
Teachers have had to upskill
The shift to online learning wouldn’t have been as smooth if not for teachers and professors who have had to upskill themselves in order to transition to the new normal. Over the course of a few months, educators — some of whom are not even digital natives — had to learn how to maximize tools like Zoom and Google Classroom. There are those who have even gone above and beyond, utilizing gimmicks like green screens, OBS systems, and even social media sites like TikTok to engage learners and enrich their online lessons. Although education may have changed, basic concerns regarding comprehension and understanding lessons are still paramount.
Family members as teachers
In third-world countries like the Philippines, not everyone has access to a laptop and stable internet. The shift to distance learning meant that most underprivileged students would be left behind. To address this, the country’s education department has adopted modular learning — a solution in which students must answer class modules, essentially another form of homework, in their households. But without their teachers’ physical guidance, children often turn to their parents for help. As a result, parents have had to supplement the gaps in education brought about by the pandemic, taking on the role of a secondary teacher at home. While this setup affords them greater control over their children’s education, it has also given birth to a new problem: distance cheating, in which students submit work accomplished by someone else. It’s clear then that although online learning is instrumental in circumventing COVID-19, plenty of issues still plague it that need to be addressed.
A growing need for inclusivity and accessibility
Some people have labeled the novel coronavirus as the “great equalizer.” But this is far from the truth, as the pandemic has only highlighted the gaping disparity in resources between the rich and the poor. In South Africa, for instance, the feasibility of e-learning has been called into question because of the digital divide. Barring the high data costs which most South African families can’t afford, teachers also have varying digital knowledge. These issues show that in most developing countries, e-learning is a luxury instead of a right, even during a pandemic. As such, governments must intervene to bridge the resource gap.
Although COVID-19 has completely disrupted education, the United Nations says that it’s also an opportunity to revitalize and reimagine the sector. As the world slowly recovers from the health crisis, education will play a huge role in getting the “COVID-19 generation” back on track.
Written exclusively for Studyabroadassociation.com
by Amy Crowns