Covid-19 Blog Series #2: “The Rapid Adoption of Online Learning in the Time of Pandemic.”

The pandemic has successfully forced a global shutdown for most activities across industries. When it comes to education sector, students are affected from schools and academic institutions closure where they had to continue with their learning through online platform. This has been the best alternative for schools in providing a safe place to study, virtually.

However, this has also resulted in tremendous migration and a dramatic change that most schools have been struggling to ensure that the learning activity to be effective and the teaching quality up to standard.


The Psychology Effect on Teachers & Students

There’s a lack of attention on the negative implications towards both teachers and students who are participating in the online learning program. Majority of high-schoolers in Indonesia found it to be confusing to adjust as most students had not been prepared through simulations or practices beforehand[1]. The home-learning program reported to be even more stressful than regular classrooms, where normal classes may have been difficult, but having friends makes it so much more manageable and less stressful. Online classes take out the benefits of having friends to socialize with and being stuck alone with nothing but assignments.

From teachers’ standpoint, most of them were close to burnout, with only patchwork of support[2]. The main goal of the job right now is getting students connected with school and keeping them that way – both technologically and even more importantly, emotionally.

Despite of all these difficulties and stressed found from both sides (students and teachers), this approach is currently the best alternative as keeping schools open poses a safety risk for students. Moreover, it is to ensure continuous learning activities from schools as essential needs.


Inadequate Infrastructure

Online learning is heavily dependent on technological devices and internet. This alone is a big challenge for educators and students with lack of internet access. A quick benchmark can be found between students and/or educators living in urban vs rural areas. Living in rural areas is lag behind when it comes to accessing quality education as facilities and resources are mostly limited[3]. Bad and limited internet connection made it impossible to conduct online learning session. Furthermore, most people in rural areas don’t have adequate smartphones to download certain apps for online class.


Digital Competence

Another important point is the competency in adapting towards the digital usage. For kids at age 5 – 10, this means including parents’ or guardians’ competence in providing assistance to operate the device. Online education being deployed by institutions merely as an ‘Emergency Measurement’ was certainly not comparable with the sophisticated and deliberate forms of online education covered in the research lecture[4]. Teachers, students, and parents who never expected – nor ever wanted – to use digital technology to communicate or work forced into quickly developing ways of studying and teaching as best they can.

An example scene of a struggling parent taking a greater role to be an educator in assisting his child while doing online study at home. Source: https://observatory.tec.mx/edu-news/challenges-of-homeschooling-covid19

Conclusion

For the past year, online education has become the only way for schools and institutions to sustain their learning activities. Regardless of the challenges, teachers, students, and parents have been embracing this new way of learning and to gain a better sense in achieving the kind of learning environment that can be effective and efficient.

Digital learning is undoubtedly the future of education. However, it is still far from the norm. Online classroom needs to be customized as according to each of the development stage of learners. Educators, students and parents should be more welcoming to improve their digital competences, while the government should be able to support in providing accessibility towards infrastructure across in both urban and rural areas. All these need to be attained in order to put online education as a resilience effort that can be developed and reinforced rather than just as a crisis response during this uncertainty time.


[1] Angdhiri, R, P. (2020) Challenges of Home Learning during a Pandemic through the Eyes of a Student, Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/04/11/challenges-of-home-learning-during-a-pandemic-through-the-eyes-of-a-student.html

[2] Kamenetz, A. (2020) 5 Things We’ve Learned About Virtual School in 2020, Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/12/04/938050723/5-things-weve-learned-about-virtual-school-in-2020

[3] Beiwinkler, S. (2020) Addressing the New Normal for Schools in Rural Areas, Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/06/13/addressing-the-new-normal-for-schools-in-rural-areas.html

[4] Selwyn, N. (2020) Online Learning: Rethinking Teachers’ ‘Digital Competence’ in light of Covid-19, Retrieved from https://lens.monash.edu/@education/2020/04/30/1380217/online-learning-rethinking-teachers-digital-competence-in-light-of-covid-19

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