It was almost the same time in last year when the deadly virus made its first appearance on Earth. It was only after the third or fourth month of 2020 that we realised the danger of COVID-19. It was not a regular infection or a common disease, the corona virus unfortunately initiated a world pandemic and forced national leaders to announce a lock down in their countries. A few days in the pandemic and we realised that it was not just a medical health emergency but we also entered a period of economic distress.
COVID-19 brought upon massive shifts in the status quo and clearly technology and especially the Internet has been central to the evolution in the COVID-19 era. Although, a tech-driven transformation was underway long before but the pandemic only accentuated the importance of technology. One of the major changes that came along the pandemic was online learning. The online education industry experienced an unprecedented growth when everyone was locked down inside their homes. The online education sector in India is valued at an all-time high and is also poised to grow tremendously in the years to come.
Online Learning and COVID
The rising Internet penetration and simplified access to innovative technology to a wide range of people across the globe fuelled the growth of online learning in the pandemic. There are a few reasons why online learning is at a peak during the pandemic when the demand for most of the businesses were experiencing a downfall.
The first evident reason is the social distancing rule that was born out of the pandemic. While the online education sector was growing since a few years but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this growth at an unimaginable rate. Online learning has curated innovative and useful ways and methods to impart and take education. Students and teachers refrain from being physically present in the same room and hence online education is inevitably the only way of attending schools and colleges when the conventional methods were rendered unsafe. In this unfortunate time where everyone has to stay in quarantine, the scope of online learning has expanded during this for almost all educational institution ranging from preschools to top-tier universities. These institutions are closed indefinitely, which means that millions of students are now only dependent on online learning platforms to continue their education. Students and teachers are trying to make the most of this unprecedented situation and therefore e-learning space is bound to increase its reach over the next few months.
The second reason responsible for the growth of the online education at a breakneck pace is due to professionals, students and beginners looking to upskill themselves. The pandemic has resulted in an uncertain economy where unemployment is rising. Learners are looking to thrive in the new-age business landscape by adapting themselves to the changing scenarios of the industry. Online education is helping professionals to balance their learning endeavours with the career in hand. Students who are attending online classes regularly are also looking to augment their education and become proficient in different skills.
Benefits of Online Learning
Now that we have understood the landscape of online education industry and its rise especially after the outbreak of COVID-19. Let’s discuss the different benefits that online education has to offer. The first evident advantage in the midst of a pandemic is that online learning is synonymous with social distancing and hence is the safest mode to continue with education.
The different advantages of online education apart from keeping you socially distant are -
Flexibility is one of the best features of online learning. These classes enabled by a stable internet connection and a computer are far more convenient for students compared to conventional classes with fixed timings. If you are fortunate to have a dedicated infrastructure, online classes are very easy to attend and hence the concentration is only on learning and not anything else.
This flexibility also allows students from less privileged background to attend online classes at their own comfort. It is observed that many women are able to attend classes because of their flexible nature.
The uniform accessibility of online classes is sone of the most beneficial advantages of online education industry especially for the underprivileged ones. There are thousands of children who were unable to attend formal schools due to various reasons. If a laptop is all you need to attend a class, there would obviously be more number of students attending classes and availing the benefits of education.
Range of specialisations
As mentioned above in this blog, there are so many students and young professionals who are looking to enhance their set of skills through online learning. For this populations, online learning due to COVID is nothing less than a blessing in disguise. There are thousands of relevant courses with hours of useful content that can bolster the knowledge and skill base of this young population of the country who are envisaging a change in their professional life. With online learning, there is no dearth of available options and hence students can take control of their career trajectory by choosing the course or skill that suits them the best or is going to be most beneficial.
The next thing that is appreciable about online learning is that it is much more economical than conventional learning methods. There are many ways in which online classes are cheaper is that degrees and course that are offered online cost almost a tenth of their offline counterparts. Online degrees are also cheap because there is absolutely no cost of transportation, uniform etc.
In this era where job losses and pay cuts are rampant, this economical way of online education is a very good option. Students and professional can be assured that the economic blows dealt by the pandemic will not affect their education rather they can make use of the pandemic to upskill themselves.
The New Age of Learning
The conventional way of learning where rote learning was prevalent and getting a degree was the ultimate aim is now almost rendered outdated. In today’s day and age, hands-on learning and relevant practical industry training are far more valuable in building a successful career than remembering facts and figures only for the sake of getting a degree. Students are understanding this and it is partly the reason why the desire to learn from industry professionals is booming as they believe that these online courses will help them prepare for employment in the most effective and efficient manner.
Here were some of the benefits of online education. In this pandemic, it looks like the only viable option, however, it is also a revolution is on the horizon. An umpteen number of students embrace e-learning during these difficult circumstances but many of them are also thinking to stick to it even after social distancing is not required. It can be easily said that online learning will be an intrinsic part of our lives in the years to come. We can only say that online learning courses and classes are here to stay.
However, just like a coin, everything in this world has two sides. Online learning also has a couple of disadvantages along with the advantages. Let’s discuss the other side of online learning.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
Not all is good when it comes to online learning. While it is the best way in the midst of a pandemic where social distancing is mandatory, there might be some glaring negatives of this modern way of gaining education. In this section we discuss the disadvantages of online learning.
With the rise of online learning courses, there has been a question of credibility of these courses. The brick and mortar colleges have accreditations from various renowned organisations and hence parents and students can easily rely on them. Online courses on the other hand are often not accredited to any professional board and hence it is important you participate in proper research before taking part in an online course.
Students had to be very disciplined when they were attending brick and mortar colleges, however, this discipline is not required when it comes to online classes. The timings and the methods to attend the online courses are flexible and hence deteriorates the culture of discipline amongst the students.
This new trend of online education is harmful for the health of students. It is one of the major concerns for parents nowadays. Sitting in front of the computer screen for long hours can adversely impact the eyesight of students. Online education can also result in deteriorating health conditions of students attending them.
Earlier, students attended schools and colleges with their fellow classmates. This setup of education was enabled networking amongst students and also allowed them to develop healthy social skills. However, all of this is absent in online classes. Students are attending these classes in isolation and hence they miss out on an important aspect of education i.e. developing inter personal skills.
With this, we come to an end of our discussion on the rise of online education after COVID-19. We discussed a lot of aspects involving online education, the cause of its rise and the various advantages and disadvantages of online education. One can only say that online education is here to stay and it depends on the students and young professionals how they have to take advantage of this new trend.
We would love to have a fruitful discussion with some of you regarding online education and know what you think of this new way of learning.
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