The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been an awful time for the whole world. It has now been classified as a pandemic, a threat that does not only call for face masks or social distancing. Lockdowns and/or community quarantines are implemented. In fact, our own country is now placed on Code Red Sublevel 2.
However, with almost a month’s class suspension issued by universities across the nation, the online class sessions became a platform to continue with the educational training of the students.
Whether it is making use of the online portal the university has, or a video call setup on Facebook Messenger (or any available social media platform for communication), both teachers and students were able to find a way to continue lessons virtually. Still, the e-learning type has stirred up varying opinions about whether it’s worth the effort of the instructors, and the time of their learners. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages when it comes to this type of learning atmosphere.
You’re safe in the comforts of your home
Online classes are not a new approach in the Philippines. In fact, even when students are in school, the use of interactive media (Kahoot, Genyo, and the like) paves the way for entertainment all while picking up on the focus of today’s lesson/s. But with the coronavirus scare, online classes are being held for the main purpose of safety and precaution.
If self-quarantine and social distancing are key factors towards lessening the possibility of the virus’ transmission, then rest assured, both students and teachers are protected within their homes. Besides, families do not have to worry about their family members as they can be sure that everyone’s doing alright despite the ongoing schoolwork and discussions being held online.
You can exercise freedom and control
Unlike when you are in an actual classroom setting, you’re pretty much limited as to what you want to do given the rules and proper ‘posture’ students are constantly being reminded of. Now that you’re at home, there is freedom to stretch your legs, to slump, even lie down if you want too (just make sure you can focus on the lesson and not fall asleep!)
Part of being comfortable in your humble abode gives you the right to study wherever you want—be it in your own room or on the kitchen table while munching on some snacks. As long as it goes within the borders of a ‘respectful atmosphere’, then you should be fine.
Remember that by ‘freedom’, you should be mindful not to disrupt others on the line. On the other hand, ‘control’ means that it’s a good move to ask for permission from your professor whether you can do this or that, just to inform him/her what you are planning to do.
It’s definitely not a hassle going to school
Unless you still have to ask for permission to borrow your brother’s laptop or make sure you’ve done the chores your mom asks you to do, then there is no rush when it comes to being on time for class. Compared to when you do your morning routine in a hurry just to make it to the classroom before your professor pops up, an online class gives you time to relax and prepare.
Due to the nature of online classes—that is, not all students can go online at the same time—it’s most likely teachers are more patient than usual. What’s more, some teachers do not even require a video call (most especially when the class composes of one, whole section), but instead upload files or video clips which contain the activities to be submitted at a given time period.
Unfortunately, there’s also the issue of some students not being able to attend classes and/or watch lectures because of the lack of proper equipment and internet connection. We will discuss this more later on.
Students also learn the values of responsibility and priority
The word ‘responsibility’ applies to this because, even without the usual way of going to class, the fact that the student and teacher compromised to meet up via social media should be one of the day’s priorities.
The best way to deal with possible problems is to ensure that the set-up (laptop, mic, headset, and the like) is readily available and functioning. Cancel appointments (or let the instructor know directly you will not be able to show up) early before the online session if anything comes up so that no confusion will arise when classes are ongoing.
The power of technology gets utilized
Imagine if we did not have the kind of technology we have now, then online classes would not have been an option easily brought up in times of crisis. Our devices have always been by our side for both entertainment and emergency purposes.
This time, technology’s potential is utilized in a way that helps universities to continue the learning process of their students even from home. We could draw out that, with the help of modern technology, it really does pave the way for creative teaching methods as well as productivity for students to make ends meet every time they log-in for online lessons.
Not to mention that this kind of learning method is effective towards a generation of the elderly dubbed as ‘high-tech’. It brings out the resourcefulness among the young ones through how they make use of social media and the internet, overall.
Technical problems are inevitable
By technical problems, we don’t only mean the stability of one’s WiFi or mobile data connection at home. We’re also referring to the devices involved in online communication: headset, laptop (or computer), mic, speakers, etc. Sometimes, even when we think that we’re good to go, things start to get complicated during the communication process. The WiFi signal gets laggy, or there are possibilities when our devices just start to malfunction.
On top of that, something may go wrong with the online platform being used to hold classes. School e-portals may undergo under server maintenance, or social media could suddenly glitch and disturb the learning process. This means a lot of trouble for meeting deadlines or joining the group video call in session. As the cliché would put it: expect the unexpected.
Not all students can go online
This is especially difficult for those who do not have their own set-up: laptops and all. The fact that not all students are the same, considerations should be placed on those who do not have the same privilege as those who have complete requirements for an online session.
Consider that some students rely on their limited data allocation, some only borrow their laptop from a family member (or the household has one main computer). Some students may lack one or two devices needed for clearer communication, and others may have to rely on their local internet cafes to type their papers given an ordinary school day.
One way or the other, it isn’t fair if some students are able to meet their professor’s requirements just because they have better and complete gadgets — while those who lack proper equipment are placed under pressure about how they can meet their professor’s expectations.
There are plenty of distractions
If there’s one thing we learned from communication class is that communication itself can be disrupted by any form of disturbances. Whether it’s a noisy atmosphere, your younger sibling constantly asking for attention, or the current meme of mothers wanting their children to wash the dishes first — the kinds of distractions for an online class are endless.
Even a sudden loss of signal could be crucial to the flow of learning. Let us not go too far, but simply becoming too lazy to do school work and choose to play online games hits the mark towards one of the most distracting factors in an online class.
Whatever keeps the students away from focusing, it certainly turns the table from the advantages of being free and in control, unlike in a classroom setting where students’ actions are monitored and disciplined.
The likelihood of not conforming to deadlines
Let’s admit the fact that there really are individuals who could get away with requirements asked by their professors. If distractions are endless, then so are the reasons students could raise just to avoid trouble when it comes to submission of paperwork and activities.
What more when it’s an online class? Just by simply saying their WiFi is unstable to upload files or send an email could already send vagueness on the professor’s end. He/she cannot simply judge that a student is lying, nor can he/she find a way to prove that the student might be telling the truth and considerations can be made.
The worst is when the student just don’t feel like conforming to online requirements at all, cooking up a variety of excuses much later on. Again, the possibilities on this one are endless and difficult to tell.
It doesn’t feel natural
Online classes are definitely held for educational purposes. So much so that its goal is for students and teachers to continue every day’s lessons (hopefully cope up with their schedule) without fear of falling prey to the virus that has already taken thousands of victims worldwide.
Then again, its nature being ‘online’, there are plenty of what ifs. To say that it doesn’t feel like a regular class isn’t just stating the obvious, but it’s also considering the possibility that this will not be productive at all.
The student logs in, listens to the teacher, answers the activities, but afterwards will spend more time playing games online. Wouldn’t this be a potential way of forgetting what they just learned? There is also a chance that not all teachers will conform with an online session (what if they also lack equipment for video calls?). Unlike in a normal school day, one can be assured that the learning process is continuous.
Technology really has gone far with online learning becoming one of the options to continue interaction between learner and instructor. Still, it comes with the inevitable balancing of the advantages.
Those who choose to agree with an online session would find that it’s similar to taking risks—you just don’t know what will happen during class, and after everyone has disconnected (‘dismissed’) from the session.
This just paves the way for people to look closely at different angles of taking up an online class just so it can be better improved in the future. Whether you choose to participate in an online class, required to do it, or you make a decision not to — this method of learning should be utilized well to permit an effective teaching strategy for instructors, and a future towards their learners.