With schools closed due to Covid-19, students have had to go online to continue their education, but the majority of institutions in America are simply unprepared to handle this new way of learning. According to Emily Feistritzer, in her article, “Online learning: crisis and opportunity,” she says that online instruction can be frustrating for students and parents alike. However, she says most teachers have never had training on online instruction. She goes on to say that our schools have not made the effort to move into the information age. She believes, “There is no excuse for failing to connect in-classroom learning to the limitless possibilities of the Internet.” She gives an excellent example showing the difference between traditional and online learning. In a biology class, Feistritzer says, a student would be required to dissect a real frog in order to study its innards. But, she says, “they can Google “what’s inside of a frog?” and get 23.7 million results — complete with photos, labels and YouTube videos.” She concludes, “It shouldn’t take a worldwide pandemic to teach our instructors to integrate rich educational content into remote instruction.”
Ryan Craig, in his article, “What Students Are Doing Is Remote Learning, Not Online Learning. There’s a Difference,” says that the World Economic Forum sees the Covid-19 as a “’catalyst’ that could finally change ‘centuries-old, lecture-based approaches to teaching, entrenched institutional biases, and outmoded classrooms.’” The author clearly believes online learning can be effective, but he mentions some of the problems that have to be addressed: distractions from family members and pets, “Zoombombing” content and studies that indicate that online courses generally have low completion rates. He believes that remote learning needs to be improved by incorporating the principles of instructional design that are used in well-designed online courses. These principles include using current world topics, having well organized easily navigated material, encouraging research and original thinking instead of memorization and finally, answering the question, “what’s in it for me.” These principles have been set down by Nathan Ecelbarger, founder and CEO of FLG (Freedom Learning Group). Although Craig, as managing Director at University Ventures and author of “College Disrupted,” focuses on higher education, much of what he discusses is highly appropriate to students of all ages.
As the realities of this pandemic set in, we expect to see a considerable uptick in online courses and learning opportunities being created for students of all ages.
By: Nancy Rubesch