The Impact Of Virtual Learning On Students In Higher Education

The Impact Of Virtual Learning On Students In Higher Education

The advancement of technology has made its presence felt in every aspect of your life, especially in education. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the entire world, students were familiar with online tools like a citation machine or an essay generator.

However, the global pandemic was the catalyst that pushed virtual learning into the limelight. As more and more people understand how effective and convenient this method is, its popularity grows daily.

How Is Virtual Learning More Convenient?

There are many reasons online learning has grown in popularity in recent years. With easy access to portable devices and high-speed internet, you can learn anything you want from the comfort of your home.

Additionally, it is the best option for those who wish to learn while juggling a part-time or full-time job and additional courses. Those who have grown up with only the traditional learning method might look at this form of learning with suspicion. But there’s no doubt that many people have already accepted it with open arms.

How Does Virtual Education Impact Higher Learning?

The shift from the traditional to virtual means of education might be slow, but it is happening nonetheless. Any educational institution that fails to adopt the current trends risk falling behind. Therefore, you’ll notice that many schools and universities offer online courses on top of their usual traditional curriculum.

But the question remains- is this online method as effective as traditional learning? In Cengage’s recent Digital Learning Pulse Survey, almost 73% of the 1469 students said they’d love to continue some of their classes online. 

On that note, let’s look at the role that virtual learning plays in higher education.

1. It lessens the time you need to complete a course

Many higher education courses take a minimum of three to five years to complete. However, virtual learning reduces this time significantly by embracing self-learning. Classes that are more theory-based and don’t require much discussion on the part of the professor are delivered through videos that students can watch any time they wish.

2. More opportunities for universities to approach research-based learning

Institutions transforming theory-based classes to video lessons allow professors to dedicate more time to research-based learning. In addition, this encourages the students to think outside the box and grasp the concept of research paper writing quickly.

3. Gives access to students who cannot attend traditional classes

One of the most significant impacts of virtual learning is the increased opportunities for students to gain access to education. Many times, it is impossible to attend classes due to the location being far away. Online education removes this obstacle and helps students gain access to courses from any part of the world. 

4. Provides a more personalised learning experience

It’s always important to note that all students do not learn at the same pace. In the traditional learning method, professors can’t give individual attention to every student’s needs. However, technology has opened the gates to AI learning modes where the online software can provide a personalised learning experience based on your capabilities.

5. Cost-effectiveness makes this method more accessible

The rising costs of higher education have forced many students to give up on their dreams. However, virtual learning provides a more cost-effective alternative. You don’t have to pay for the maintenance fee, electricity bills, laboratory or library fees. Thus, taking online courses is the best way to avoid falling into debt. 

6. Learn whatever you wish

Through online learning, you are not confined to any geographical location. As a result, it becomes possible to learn Japanese from a native sitting from the comfort of your home. It doesn’t matter if the educator is on the opposite side of the earth. Technology makes it possible to connect by removing all geographical barriers.

However, despite so many benefits, virtual learning is yet to win the hearts of many.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Virtual Learning?

The experience of learning in a traditional method is significantly different from taking online classes. As a result, many students have been unable to accept the shift in platforms wholeheartedly, especially post-pandemic when it is no longer an option but a necessity. Moreover, this learning method is not without its fair share of shortcomings.

1. Inequal access to those without internet 

A high-speed internet connection is still unavailable in many parts of the world. In addition, students of many countries cannot afford the devices necessary to gain access to virtual learning. As a result, they can’t access simple tools like a wordcounter, let alone entire higher education courses.

2. Assessments are dicey at best

Despite the best technologies, universities have been unable to find any countermeasures for eliminating cheating during online examinations. Most of the time, students are usually one step ahead, and not even AI technology can stop some from adopting unfair means. As a result, recruiters take such online examinations with a pinch of salt, making it harder for the students to land good jobs.

3. A perpetual feeling of detachment

In the traditional education system, students are more active participants through their interactions with professors and classmates. However, the isolation that inevitably comes with virtual learning has given rise to a feeling of detachment inside students. 

4. Increased feeling of stress and physical ailments

According to University Business’ survey on college students post-pandemic, about 72.5% admitted that they’d rather return to campus than continue with their online classes. The constant exposure to devices has left the students feeling more stressed, tired and worn out all the time.

Summing it up,

Virtual learning continues to be a popular option in many households as more institutions adapt themselves to the shift in education methods. As there is much to improve concerning this form of learning, it doesn’t seem like the traditional method will disappear anytime soon. However, you can expect virtual learning to gain more popularity with time.

Author bio:

Alley John is a professional academic assistant at a reputed online writing service. He has helped hundreds of students with their assignments and is currently pursuing her PhD. Collins loves to write poetry and aims to publish her works soon.

Online Education in Digital Divide: US’s Connectivity Woes

Online Education in Digital Divide USs Connectivity Woes

The pandemic has ripped open a weakness in the American system, and now it has become an acute crisis for the children. It’s the deep-rooted digital divide.

This put not only primary schooling but also the future of higher education in the US at stake. With schools continuing remote education and the rising coronavirus cases shutting schools down once again, education is suffering to bits.

Millions of students can’t keep up with schoolwork without steady internet at home.

 Up till now, these communities cobbled up fixes such as taking library’s Wi-Fi, or that of McDonald’s. But now with public places out of reach, internet-poor communities are struggling to transition to remote learning. A crisis that began in spring and continues this fall.

What is school’s education management doing?

As an immediate relief, schools have tried to bridge this digital divide by:

  • Subsidizing internet by leveraging federal funds – the USD 2.2 trillion from CARES act COVID relief.
  • Some are handing out 4G connections and paying for the wireless hotspots for low-income families such as COMCAST’s ~$10/month package.
  • Many communities are stepping up to expand free internet in their area through public hotspots.

However, the dearth remains. What’s more, the challenge of digital divide and online education isn’t recent in the US, it has been continuing from before COVID-19, but the pandemic has merely exacerbated it to unprecedented levels.

Suffering Education Outcomes: Some Statistics

A study by Common Sense Media shows,

Of the 51m students, about 15m either had no home broadband or lacked enough quality broadband to handle hours of videoconferencing.

More strikingly,

As many as 400,000 teachers also lack a proper internet connection.

The study didn’t include cellphone service due to data caps and restricted bandwidth, along with the uneasiness of tiny screens.

This was about the digital divide that mostly refers to broadband. Many schools and students have highlighted another challenge for education management: the lack of home computers, or tablets.

Defining “Adequate” Internet Service

When sometimes low-income families do have access to the required devices and internet, it proves inadequate. The question arises, what is enough? While this question remains up for debate, according to general knowledge:

Broadband that can give at a minimum of 25 Mbps speed in download, and 3 Mbps in upload can be dubbed as “adequate.”

This is the same as what COMCAST’s essential service plan offers. These numbers can constitute good guiding factors for ensuring good access to online education.

Why the US has failed in bridging the divide?

The reasons that made large sections in the birthplace of internet struggle for basic internet services are many. They have compounded over the years.

The problem is a lack of priority (until now) to this issue. The private industry players couldn’t care much to take this task head-on given many poor neighborhoods aren’t considered profitable by these companies, and for public sector, it isn’t an issue they can solve on their own.

The pandemic by putting the future of higher education in jeopardy has fueled the long-stand connectivity crisis.

Satellite internet services are a good fix, but the ones that are present so far aren’t “adequate” and those of SpaceX Starlink and Amazon are yet to emerge fully.

Fixing the problem

Government officials and private industry must come together to save children’s future. In many states, top officials are getting involved at the ground level.

The CARES Act, though fixing the problem, isn’t a long-term solution. As Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks tell, “these communities though are finding quick fixes for the problem, they aren’t planning for next year.”

The public and private sectors must go beyond subsidies. Government needs to enter deals with private players to align what’s right for the public and children, and also the US’s strong free-market ethos.

If not corrected now, children will face the brunt of the pandemic for long after it will be gone. Education management and leaders – from K12 to higher education – must get into the problem and act fast.

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