Updated: Mar 10
Now that the world has been through a pandemic, used Zoom and Microsoft Teams to teach students, are traditional schools a thing of the past?
Let's look at the pros and cons of remote learning.
If there was one thing about the pandemic that we were forced to try, it was working form home, and of course, for students, learning from home. It was a giant experiment , for which we largely had no choice, but proved to teach us a little about the positive and negative effects of conducting courses in this way.
The following is a list of Pros and Cons to Remote learning, a little to think about in deciding whether to adopt this approach (in non pandemic times) going forward.
If it proved anything, it was that it muddied the waters on this debate.
Pros to Remote Learning
Reduced behavior problems typically found in a classroom.
Students saved travel time to/from school and gained more sleep.
Increased students technical abilities and software skills.
Students weren't distracted by other students in class.
Eliminates almost all incidences of bullying.
Amenities such as bathroom and kitchen were convenient at home.
Students could easily submit work digitally.
Parents could help monitor their child's participation.
Less incidences of late students to online classes.
Easier to distribute assignments, missed work, general information.
Students could move ahead at their own pace.
Cons to Remote Learning
Difficult to tell if the student was even present after logging in to class.
Less 1-on-1 teacher help.
Cost of laptops which needs to be provided to most students.
Technical difficulties with laptops and software (login issues) were frustrating.
Learning curve as students used different software options for each class.
Limited social interaction with their peers.
Limited individual physical movement for classes such as physical education.
No team physical interaction in physical education classes.
No school sports or clubs (except virtual clubs).
More difficult for teachers to monitor attendance (students walk away from PC's).
Difficult for teachers to catch cheating (file exchanges, writing a test for another student)
Courses that usually required equipment were drastically reworked (wood and metal shop, automotive, physical education, drama, music, art, science labs to name a few).
It's difficult for students to sit in front of a screen for 6 hours per day, especially for younger students.
Requires at least 1 parent to stay home, at least for students under 14.
Students could disengage from learning more easily (home distractions).
"Remote learning has its place, but it certainly has its limitations." – School Districts
Analysis: Remote Courses Have Their Place
So, we can see from the above Pros and Cons that remote learning has many hurdles to overcome. It seems like it does have its place, though maybe not for all courses and schools.
It would serve great to deliver adult courses, either leading toward a G.E.D. or even some post secondary classes. But even those would benefit from in-person sessions and in-person exams.
The age of the student certainly plays a factor in how effective online learning can be. For younger children, they need that student-teacher interaction and peer-peer interaction which is esssential. For high school students, maybe having 1 course online per semester might be beneficial, as long as they could also access the course from within the school. That way they can remain at school for the social interaction and all the after-school sports and activities.
A Combination Might Be The Best
Certainly, a combination or choice of online learning or traditional in-person learning is the ideal situation. That way we can satisfy the students who prefer to learn online, have a job if they are older, or just need a final credit to graduate.
But for most students, the social interaction and physical participation they receive by attending a bricks-and-mortar school still outweighs any benefits or convenience that an online course provides.