The Comfort of Home: The Advantages of Online Learning During Covid-19
Contributing Authors: Angel N. Skinner, Dena Patel, Darrick Rawlings
This article is the effort of collaboration between Angel Skinner, Daniya Noreen, and Darrick Rawlings.
Angel N. Skinner has 12 years of teaching experience and has been teaching for different community colleges in the State of Mississippi. Angel attained a Master’s degree in the major of Science in Workforce Education and Leadership in 2008.
Derrick Rawlings is from Jackson, Mississippi. He is an Accountant and Auditor with the Department of Finance and Administration.
Daniya Noreen is a pharmacist who has a passion for writing content and a tech enthusiast.
How it started
In late January 2020, a man from Washington State returned from Wuhan, China with symptoms of the virus. Since then, the coronavirus has spread rampantly, affecting over 6,420,000 citizens nationwide in the U.S. as of September 11, 2020. When the virus initially began to spread across the country in March 2020; many schools across America responded by switching to e-learning for the remainder of the spring semester. However, by fall, many of these same institutions returned to in-person instruction; despite the continuous spread of this infamous respiratory disease; largely linked to blatant disregard for CDC recommendations and state regulations among students. As of September 11, 2020, there have been hundreds of cases reported on campuses, including several confirmed coronavirus related deaths among teachers across five different states, including Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Iowa; leaving many students to reconsider their educational setting. Still, after millions of confirmed cases across the globe, many students prefer face-to-face learning. However, the rapid adoption of technology is evident in every sphere of life because it has changed how people do things, increasing efficiency, also lowering costs.
How it led to the adaptation of online learning
In the education sector, online learning has gained popularity over the years, and many learning institutions have embraced it. However, a rapid evolution aligning with the COVID-19 pandemic changes saw online learning embraced even more. The closure of schools during lockdown had over 1.2 billion learners fending for themselves at home. Therefore, online learning became the solution for continued education during the pandemic and had numerous benefits for the learner, teacher, and parent.
What students think
Some students have experienced difficulties navigating through online courses, while others express concerns about understanding coursework without live instruction as a follow-up. Meanwhile, many students simply want an on-campus experience. However, the most important factor to consider is: how do we maintain our safety and health without compromising our education? The fact is most students prefer online learning as their comfort zone during the pandemic. For example, one student said:
“I am a freshman student at a local community college in Mississippi, and I am very fond of online education. Although I had already planned to attend online courses during my first semester, the pandemic reaffirmed this decision. In a state of normality, I prefer online courses for self-paced flexibility. Furthermore, I can work in a quiet and focused environment within my home. In the midst of a global pandemic, I am certainly thankful for an online platform. The routine temperature checks, ongoing facial covering mandates, social distancing measures, and the overall potential risk for exposure are very persistent on campus, and I prefer distance learning for the time being.”
Another student said:
“In the midst of Covid-19, I am definitely grateful for online classes. Even though I’m not a big fan of traditional classes anyway this definitely slows down on spreading the virus. I like what we have going with virtual learning.”
While other students said the following:
“I prefer either class. Online gives me more time to be home with children while learning. Traditional helps me to learn more (hands on).”
“I prefer online courses over traditional courses due to the token that I can work and still be able to attend class without any interruptions. Online courses don’t conflict with my everyday schedule and allow me to have a chance to learn freely as well as maintain a sufficient financial status within society as well.”
“I would prefer online because I’m a full-time worker, mom, and wife. I can get a lot done by working at my own speed. This way I will have time to space out and plan all family activities as well as doing school work. With all that’s going on in the world, people have chosen online. Some people learn better with the face to face.”
“I work for the school district and I can assure you that the district has taken every possible measure to keep the students as safe as possible. Each student was provided with personal PPE’s such as face masks or face-shields.”
“I think classes should be online. Even though they are taking protocol that doesn’t mean you still can’t get the virus. Even in the workplace. At my job, they spray and wipe down surfaces every morning before we get in, and every evening upon leaving, and a worker still got it and was asymptomatic. Even after testing positive he still never had symptoms. I feel like if we don’t need to be at work or school it should be online or work from home. Traditional as needed.”
“In the midst of COVID-19”, I would prefer online classes. I prefer this method because right now it is safe. In the setting I work in, we have janitors who don’t like to enter the building in the right door so they skip the temperature check. One of our janitors has come into the building knowing she has been exposed to the virus. She cleans the offices, bathrooms, and classrooms. Which means everything she touches is a risk to children, teachers, and other staff? They closed our building down for a couple of days and asked us to come back and 15 of our teachers tested positive. They let this janitor back into the building last week and since then she has been exposed again and 13 other staff members she had been around being positive. This is why I would choose online as of now.”
“With the Pandemic of Covid19, I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this. Personally, as the cases were steady on the rise, I definitely would say online. The cases have started to go down, but we cannot let our guards down. I think about the children that have an underlying illness, their immune system is not as strong as the next child which makes it easier for them to get the virus. I am a working essential parent and I know how hard it is to make sure that a child is on-line while you’re at work. On the other hand, I prefer traditional because there are children that learn better with hands-on and they also learn from other children. I don’t work in the school system, but I have two sisters that work in the school system and I make sure that they have the products to sanitize their room and the desks. At the present time they are on-line, after the first nine weeks they will transition to the classroom.”
However, some learners believed that unplanned and a rapid move to online learning will result in the following: little instructor training, ineffective or low bandwidth, and insufficient preparation. However, some feel this will result in an unsatisfactory online experience. While others believe that teachers should consider teaching hybrid courses. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of online learning varies amongst age groups. The consensus on children, especially younger ones, is that a structured environment is required because kids are more easily distracted. To provide the full benefit of online learning, there needs to be an effort to provide standards and an organized environment for the learners. In the end, the benefits associated with online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, extend to the learners, educators, and parents. It was a crucial platform in minimizing the spread of the virus and at the same time, protecting the learner’s well-being. The educators used it to enhance the learning outcomes while involving the parents in the student’s learning process. In the midst of this storm, should students search for comfort in online education? We should decide if online learning is the best during a pandemic. The integration of information technology in education will be accelerated and online education will eventually become an integral component of school education now and beyond.
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