All through 2020, teachers and students around the world were pushed out of their classrooms and into the online space. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning had remained something of a “fringe” activity. It was certainly growing and was already a tried-and-tested method for many people, but it was never thought to be a real replacement for the bricks-and-mortar classroom. All that is changing.
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COVID-19: Forcing Us to Rethink Education
As the realities of ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns set in, people realized that they would have to do something about their education needs. The technology for online learning was already there, and this seemed to be the only viable option. The interesting thing, however, is that far from people now looking to cast aside the online platform as COVID restrictions around the world start to ease, they are looking to keep it.
The power of the Internet has proven its potency during this recent health crisis. Parents and children alike are discovering that their previously perceived dependence on bricks-and-mortar facilities like offices and school houses was just that…perceived. It wasn’t real at all. As it turns out, people can work very well and learn a lot from a home-based online environment.
There are other reasons to send kids back to school, of course, but not every learner is a school child. Adults who used their lockdown time to learn new things online have gained a totally new appreciation for the online space, and it is now helping to drive online learning as a firm part of the educational mainstream.
No COVID, No Online Space?
With kids and teachers returning to school, does that mean the COVID-related surge in online learning was just a blip? In fact, no. Even if schools go back to their regular routine --- and there are other reasons to support that --- it cannot be denied that even these schools have at least seen the benefits of using online technology to assist in the education space more than they did previously. What’s more, datafrom the US Department of Education also suggested that those learning online actually performed better than those learning face to face.
More interesting, however, is the wider e-learning space. What COVID-19 has done is show people that this is not some fringe technology, but an empowering method of self-improvement through continued education. For many people who could never afford the traditional higher education experience, the online space presents amazing new opportunities.
Reasons the Online Space Will Endure
Some people have claimed that the surge in popularity of online learning is entirely down to the effects of the health crisis. It can’t be denied that COVID-19 prompted something of a revolution in online learning where many were forced to use it. The interesting thing, however, is that people have discovered its many merits. Unlike other things people are forced into that get dropped just as soon a they become unnecessary, the online space has been found to benefit millions of people.
Connecting with the Best Teachers
Wherever we live in the world, attending local school and learning centers means that our learning is only ever as good as the best teacher nearby. We can’t deny this fact, nor can we deny the reality that some teachers are simply better than others. What if the best teacher for a particular thing lives in New York and you’re based in Utah?
The online learning space makes connecting with that teacher possible. Countries like South Korea have already been making use of this platform for a long time, allowing students to pay for access to lectures and lesson videos made by the highest-rated teachers in the private sector. Those teachers make millions of dollars, and the students benefit by learning from the best.
Flexibility and Accessibility
Learning online means learning from wherever you are. You can learn from your office after hours, from your living room or even while you’re sitting in a coffee shop or on the subway going home. Online materials, pre-recorded lectures, smartphone apps with exercises for practice, and myriad tools to create and submit coursework online all mean that education can now be a genuinely flexible and accessible space.
Learning foreign languages is one of the great success stories of the online space. Students anywhere in the US, for instance, can learn Russian from native Russian speakers living in Moscow, and learners in Beijing can learn French from Parisians, and so on.
Fun Factor and Attention Factor
Finally, it should be said that there is a lot of fun in learning online. Creative teachers use all the tools at their disposal to create engaging and fun lessons for learners to follow. What’s more, given the generally reduced cost of online learning, class sizes can be greatly reduced, and many learners can even enjoy 1-on-1 attention from their teacher to get the most out of their learning experience.
Online Space: It’s Here to Stay
Make no mistake, the online learning space is not going to fade into obscurity when the pall of COVID-19 is finally lifted worldwide. Too many people have been fortunate enough to discover its benefits and will certainly continue to help it thrive and flourish in the post-pandemic world.
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