Most people picture instructors in front of classrooms full of pupils when they think about education. However, the future of education began to take on a new appearance when the Coronavirus epidemic fundamentally altered the way we conduct most things, including learning. 13 percent of private schools and 21% of public schools provided at least one course online during the 2017–2018 academic year. In the Fall of 2020, 75 percent of the 50 biggest school districts in the US decided to begin the academic year entirely online. Thousands of other districts use a hybrid approach that combines some online and some in-person instruction. 2 Online learning is a challenge for both instructors and students, but it will probably continue. Here are seven reasons why educators need to be ready for this novel situation.
1. It provides a more flexible learning environment.
A one-size-fits-all approach to education will inevitably leave some children behind. Students who have the freedom to design their online learning environments are better able to choose classes that suit their learning preferences. Providing fresh, creative methods to interact and learn supports the success of both students and instructors. It also gives students new chances to improve learning environments.
2. It is an economical solution.
The expenses of teaching kids in school facilities are extensive, ranging from upkeep and maintenance to utilities and transportation. Local districts that experience ongoing budget constraints may find these charges to be onerous. By offering flexible locations for students to study in hybrid models and reducing overhead costs, online learning may provide schools with a chance to lower the physical footprint of their facilities.
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3. It boosts enrollment capacity.
Schools may accommodate more students from more locations, including those who don’t live nearby or who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend classes in person, by offering online learning. For parents, particularly those who live in places with few educational resources, this offers additional options and opportunities. 4
4. Teachers and students are becoming more at ease using technology.
Technology, displays, smartphones, and the internet have almost taken over our lives, and this is true for both adults and kindergarteners. Students are at ease communicating with individuals online and often see it as being comparable to face-to-face conversation. Although it is hard to replicate the whole in-person learning experience online, online learning is more likely to persist due to technological advancements and students’ and instructors’ comfort levels with these tools.
5. Access to digital devices and broadband is growing.
2020 saw a significant shift toward online learning that dramatically revealed a gap. Students from middle-class and affluent families may readily access the internet using PCs, laptops, or tablets together with swift broadband connectivity. Students from lower-income households have difficulty with online learning, however.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2020, 21% of parents of school-age children said that their kids wouldn’t be able to do their homework if they didn’t have access to a computer at home.
5 In August, a picture of two school-age girls using Taco Bell’s Wi-Fi network to do their schoolwork since they couldn’t access the internet at home went viral. 6
State, municipal, and federal governments began discussing the possibility of making high-speed internet more accessible to every family and every student as this disparity came to light. To find a solution, local governments, school districts, nonprofit groups, and broadband providers have banded together. A better and more equal online learning environment will likely be made possible by the increased resources made available to students and school districts as a result of this emphasis on the digital divide.
6. There are more technologies accessible to support online learning.
Companies that provide platforms and tools for online learning are evolving more quickly than ever. With the use of new programs, instructors can educate pupils more effectively while also fostering student interaction and learning. Some of these programs were created by students who wanted to strengthen connections between people who couldn’t physically be in the same place. 7 The potential of educators to learn from one another as they adapt to a new paradigm for teaching and learning is increased by the large-scale research that is looking at the best practices for online teaching.
7. It provides more chances for educational equity.
You might be dubious that online education can increase equity if you’ve read recent articles about the widening tech equity gap in the United States between students who have broadband access and can easily learn online and those who do not. Online learning, however, presents a singular opportunity for students who previously had little or no access to high-quality education to have more alternatives to choose from as internet availability expands. For instance, students in school districts lacking music or the arts may locate online classes to hone their creative skills.
8. To augment lectures, students have access to excellent tutors.
One advantage of online education is the freedom to locate new materials outside of the confines of conventional classroom lectures. Teachers and students are coming up with creative methods to use tutors and other learning tools in addition to lectures and online courses. Families with higher earnings may more easily afford tutors, thus there is another area where there is a noticeable income gap. 9 However, pupils from households with less financial flexibility have limited or no access to this exclusive, often pricey resource. It will be crucial to figure out how to provide these services to all students, regardless of financial situation, as distant learning develops.
9. The epidemic may significantly alter how people work and learn.
The quick transition from conventional workplaces to work-from-home options has shown companies that their staff can be just as productive even if they don’t come into the office every day. Millions of people could be permitted to go on working from home as a consequence. 10 More parents will be able to keep their children at home if it suits their learning styles as more parents have the freedom to choose where and how they work.
10. Schools are looking for instructors with experience in the online environment.
Administrators in several of the major school districts in the nation have stated that they are especially looking for instructors who can instruct pupils online in light of the move toward online education.
11 For educators, understanding how to teach online may improve your chances of landing highly sought-after positions in school systems throughout the United States, where you’ll be in charge of a varied group of kids at various academic levels.
Get ready to pursue a career in education.
With a master’s degree or a graduate certificate from the University of Kansas, you may be ready for the future of education whether you want to work in policymaking or as an educator. We are educating the next generation of teachers for success through online programs in curriculum and teaching, educational leadership and policy studies, and special and inclusive education. Discover more about our programs, then begin right now.