What have we learnt through the introduction of online learning?

Laptops for schools

Our Chesham Centre Manager, Eleanor, offers her perspective on some of the benefits that have been brought about through the introduction of online learning.

Even though we have left 2020 behind us, we are still experiencing the effects the year has had on us. One of the major outcomes has been a huge adjustment to and reliance on virtual learning. Continual lockdowns have had a detrimental effect on children, particularly the most recent in January, chipping away at progress that had been made since student’s return to school in September. This form of education is vastly different from face to face, bringing many issues to light. However, online learning does provide us with many opportunities to learn that face to face education does not.

One of the many positives online learning provides is opening up space for conversations within families. A discussion that has been prevalent in the media since the government issued a work from home order last March was how inequality has existed in the school environment for years, where students from less affluent backgrounds or those with disabilities are less able to access their education than other students. With online learning being normalised more in our family environments, children and parents can discuss how this inequality came about, as well as steps to take to reduce this and make education and school sites more accessible to all. Furthermore, these discussions can help to destigmatise the perceptions people have of online education, all the way through to Open University, helping us to create a more equal societal view on education.

The use of technology for online learning also opens up a conversation for families about the
importance of online safety. Students are required to have access to the internet to complete online classes, and parents can’t always be monitoring their children’s devices and internet use. By providing the opportunity for parents to discuss this with their children and trust them to safely access the internet, the behaviour is engrained in children from a young age, and brings a new level of trust to the family dynamic.

Furthermore, online learning allows for a whole generation of children to advance their computer literacy and technology skills. In a world where we are becoming increasingly technocentric, children being taught these skills from a young age may have infinite positive effects down the line, potentially helping to further future advancements in areas such as technological development and communication.

Although virtual education is better than nothing, it is not an exact substitute for the classroom
environment. Nonetheless, students are learning emotional strength and showing great amounts of resilience and adaptability in this ever changing environment. They have also been exposed to conversations in the media about subjects that usually would not be discussed, such as inequality to education access and online safety, and are honing computer skills which are usually vastly ignored in schools. Online learning provides us with many benefits that face to face learning may not have, so let’s focus on the positives, and on what else this opportunity is able to teach us outside of the curriculum.