The COVID-19 outbreak had a significant influence on multiple fields, including education. Because of the national quarantine, most educational institutions had to cope with the changes by introducing a remote learning system that would allow students to attend classes without putting themselves at risk. Online classes were the solution that most schools, colleges, and universities chose to replace the regular system. However, evidence shows that distance learning has not been as effective, rewarding, and inclusive as in-class education.
Using digital devices is at the core of the subject of remote education. Students had to use their computers or phones to attend classes, complete assignments, and listen to lectures. This, however, has been a challenge for certain students who were not able to access the needed resources. According to researchers, the lack of a reliable Wi-Fi connection was a significant problem during such practices (Armstrong-Mensah et al. 6). Parents were experiencing additional expenses to improve the technological situation, and students were not able to listen to the lectures live and interact with the teacher when the internet connection was low. Moreover, a lack of such devices that could be used to attend the online classes would undoubtedly mean the student has no opportunities to engage in learning and other educational practices. This creates a gap among specific populations that have financial difficulties.
Lack of Inclusivity
While not having the technological means to attend classes disregards inclusivity, more aspects impact the level of equality when it comes to remote learning. It is certain that students had to be more focused, motivated, and attentive during such classes. A lack of supervision increases the chance of being distracted or prioritizing activities unrelated to education. Research refers to students diagnosed with ADHD who found it particularly hard to keep their academic results high due to the change in the system (Becker et al. 769). They expressed challenges when it comes to concentrating on the subject and following a routine. Students with such problems were in a difficult situation that was significantly less beneficial compared to prior in-person classes with supervision, interactions, and fewer distractions. The policies implemented during the pandemic compromised their academic outcomes and opportunities.
The quarantine has resulted in a wide array of concerns related to mental health. In particular, people found it hard to change their lifestyles and remain isolated for long periods of time. Data shows that multiple students have expressed being depressed and anxious as a result of the changes followed by the pandemic (Wang et al.). Such outcomes are partially influenced by the fact that remote learning has replaced in-person interactions and created a sense of severe isolation and loneliness among the survey participants. Colleges were places where students could interact on a closer level, while distance learning has limited such aspects and wholly replaced them with online conversations. Data shows that mental well-being has been affected due to the changes followed by the quarantine, which negatively impacted the mental state of the students.
An argument that can be used to promote remote education is a sense of independence that students feel when having complete control of submitting assignments and attending lectures. This practice promotes real-life skills that will be useful in future careers and other critical life stages that require a level of responsibility. However, most of the students could not efficiently switch from the old system to the new one in such a short period. The institutions had to make urgent changes that had not been put into practice before. A large number of students were overwhelmed with such drastic reforms, which made it challenging for them to assimilate and be as proficient as they used to be.
Another potential argument in favor of online classes is the fact that it allows for more flexibility. Certain students have difficulties being as effective as others, which is why remote learning may be beneficial. They can re-watch lectures, take more time to understand the topic, and have more breaks in case of exhaustion. However, listening to the same information in class makes it easy to interact with the teacher and ask all the necessary questions if a particular topic is more complicated. Moreover, in-person lessons contribute to quick decision-making and better communication skills. Such important traits are often favored during job interviews, which directly impacts one’s career. Students are able to develop abilities to learn quickly, overcome obstacles, and focus on the subject without being distracted by external triggers.
Most institutions’ recent experience involving online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak has shown negative results on multiple levels. The areas that cannot be appropriately addressed by this solution include inclusivity, access to technology, and mental health. Evidence shows that the new policy has negatively influenced students in these domains, which caused low morale and a higher chance of not attending the remote lectures and skipping class. While it can be argued that distance learning is effective for improving self-reliance, specific life skills, and flexibility, the overall outcomes show that the adverse outcomes outweigh the positive ones. Students generally see better results when attending physical schools, interacting with their peers, and engaging in person-to-person discussion. Moreover, such risks as a lack of necessary technological devices or an inability to remain focused on one subject for a longer time are mitigated through attending in-person classes. All the arguments mentioned above prove that while remote learning was used as an urgent measure during an emergency situation, relying on this model as a permanent policy is inefficient.
Armstrong-Mensah, Elizabeth, et al. “Covid-19 and Distance Learning: Effects on Georgia State University School of Public Health Students.” Frontiers in Public Health, vol. 8, 2020, pp. 1-10.
The article aims to assess how the educational changes that occurred because of the COVID-19 quarantine affected students. Armstrong-Mensah et al. have conducted an online survey in which more than 700 students participated. The questions were focused on the student’s overview of remote learning, the challenges they meet, and the positive aspects that correlate with remote education. The findings have shown positive outcomes in motivation to learn but adverse effects on the academic workload and particular challenges related to lack of appropriate internet connection.
Becker, Stephen P., et al. “Remote Learning during COVID-19: Examining School Practices, Service Continuation, and Difficulties for Adolescents with and without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 67, no. 6, 2020, pp. 769–777.
The journal article illustrates the difference in remote learning perception for students with and without ADHD. Researchers used questioners to determine how more than 230 teens, from which half are diagnosed with ADHD, view the new educational implementations. The results have shown that adolescents with ADHD find it difficult to remain focused while learning remotely. Moreover, their parents also stated that this method of learning is challenging for them as caregivers in terms of motivating their children to stay focused.
Wang, Xiaomei, et al. “Investigating Mental Health of US College Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cross-Sectional Survey Study.” Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 22, no. 9, 2020.
The article analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected college students’ mental health. Researchers have conducted an online survey for more than 2000 participants with questions related to mental health in correlation with the recent educational implementations regarding remote learning. The results illustrated that depression and anxiety were elevated within a large portion of the research sample. The low morale was found to be linked to particular concerns related to academic results, health issues, and lifestyle changes.