Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning is taking over the world because of its availability, accessibility, convenience, and flexibility. It allows the students to fit the process of learning into their lives instead of re-arranging their lives according to the education system. However, there are still some people who are hesitant to trust and adopt online learning to enhance their knowledge. Not everyone is open to learning online.
Online learning is shrouded in myths that make it difficult for learners to accept it as a better alternative to traditional classroom education.
Online teaching is meant for the young and techno-savvy
I have heard people say: “I’ve another two years to retire and I’m not inclined to learn anything new, especially online teaching, at this stage of my life.” Or “Oh, these online teaching practices are for those in their 30s, surely not for those in their 50s.” A few others have commented: “Virtual teaching is for those who are techno-savvy, not for people like me who are averse to technology.” The fact is that everyone — young and old, and those who are conversant with and averse to technology — has to embrace technology and live with it. In other words, technology in tertiary education has come to stay and all teachers have to make a clear and conscious shift despite their age and attitude. Successful people in any walk of life are those who love and welcome change.
Students stay away from online courses because they believe that the instructor is never going to complete the course online. Also, The involvement of technology and the internet makes the students assume that the learning process is too complicated, and they have to be tech-savvy or know everything about computers and the internet before signing up for an online class.
Fact: Online-learning is very easy. If you know how to browse the web or use your smartphone, online learning is for you. You do not need strong computer skills to learn online. Also, whether a teacher finishes the course or not is not a function of whether the class is online or offline. It depends on the professionalism of a teacher. If you do adequate research on a teacher or take feedback from his old students you will be less anxious.
There is no denying the fact that we are living through difficult times because of the coronavirus pandemic. Against this backdrop, quite a few argue that online teaching is only a stopgap arrangement—at the most for a semester or two. Some feel that when normalcy returns, it will be back to chalk and talk. So, why bother to learn new teaching methodologies? The fact is that online teaching has already become an integral part of our educational system and irrevocable changes have been made in our teaching-learning process. COVID-19 has drastically altered our teaching methodologies and there is no going back. The winners are those who embrace technology and look at online education not as a long-term game changer.
A lot of people may think that because one can learn online at his own pace there is no self- discipline. Students can learn only when they do homework or write tests in proper examination halls. It is easier to cheat in online exams. Therefore, online-learning can never be effective and may lead to no learning.
Fact: Students have to submit assignments and write tests in online classrooms. It is easier to detect plagiarism if the assignments are submitted online. The flexible nature of online learning makes it easier for the student to learn at his own pace and understand the topic before moving on to the next module.
The use of technology, such as laptops and phones distract students, and the internet cannot provide a classroom like an environment where students can learn without unnecessary interruptions. Students are tempted to pursue other digital activities during online lectures. and they miss out on important topics. Social media, notification alerts, recommended YouTube videos, and other digital distractions shake up their concentration and divide their attention.
Fact: If a student can concentrate in a traditional classroom, there is nothing that can stop him to focus on online lectures. He needs the same amount of concentration and patience to learn online. Students can focus better in online classes because they are in a comfortable zone, not surrounded by their friends, and they know that they are there to study. The Internet makes the learning process fun and engaging.
Another myth that surrounds online teaching is- the teachers who teach online are not subject experts. They are unqualified and ineligible to teach in a real school or university and have therefore chosen to teach in virtual classrooms. Learners believe that students in traditional classrooms receive an inherently better education from real professors than online students.
Fact: There is no difference between an online instructor and a teacher in a traditional classroom. Online teachers can have in-depth subject knowledge and excellent communication skills.
Till the dawn of the third millennium, higher educational institutions in India were preponderantly teacher oriented. The last two decades have brought some welcome change in that there have been conscious attempts to make the curricula student-centred. But this pandemic has brought in yet another paradigm shift — the conscious and deliberate move towards technology. Earlier, teachers were synonymous with chalk and duster but are now seen with laptops and headphones and that would sum up the change in pedagogy.
There is an innate fear in teachers, especially the ‘old timers’ that technology will eventually replace them. Teachers need to be reassured that they cannot be replaced but also need to be told that their role has changed significantly. Earlier, they were seen as the repositories of knowledge. But now they are seen as syllabus designers, content developers, knowledge sharers — all through the medium of technology. Therefore, they need to develop a different set of skills, especially knowledge of Learning Management Systems (LMS).
Since online-learning involves computers, internet connection, video conferencing, and good quality course materials it must be expensive. Students do not sign up for online courses because they think that they cannot afford it.
Fact: Online-learning is far cheaper than offline education. It reduces your travel & lodging expenses. You have many options, and you can choose the course which suits you the best.