Even though many schools and other educational institutions are turning to online platforms to curb the challenges of the pandemic, these solutions are often far from complete, much less perfect. Online learning comes in different forms, after all, with some solutions evidently outshining others. Can schools really consider video conferencing tools as ideal online classrooms? We highly doubt it.
Besides coming up with ways to make the virtual classroom experience more authentic and convenient for everyone, schools should also begin to. Once schools start paying attention to what these other solutions offer in the way of minimizing online classroom challenges, they’ll probably shift to them in no time.
The Lingering Online Learning Issues Faced by Schools
1. The Issue of Student Adaptability and Lack of Computer Knowledge
Let’s face it, most students are still struggling to adapt to online learning. It’s almost a 180-degree turn, after all, with everyone, teachers included, immediately noticing how different an online training environment is and the limitations it has. At least, this often applies to other so-called solutions.
And most of the time, their flaws simply rest on the fact that they’re not designed to make it easy for students and teachers to get the hang of them in the first place. Nor do they actively teach students and teachers how to properly utilize their features.
2. Keeping Distractions at Bay and Raising Virtual Engagement and Collaboration
Students often find it hard to concentrate because they have to do all their learning at home, which is predominantly filled with distractions. It’s no different from any WFH setup, so it’s important to actively address this issue. Admittedly, the key to this problem rests solely on students and parents taking steps to make the home a more idyllic place for learning.
However, we can’t entirely overlook the role of the actual online learning platform in this as well. Does it allow controlled participation from only a select few individuals? Is the overall learning environment conducive to learning and with minimal to zero opportunities for interruptions? What steps does it take to make the virtual classroom less boring and more interactive?
3. Absence of Effective Communication Channels
Students normally will have reservations about directly communicating with their teachers. Even in traditional classrooms, this has already been a prevalent issue. And it’s much more so in an online setting. If there’s one main deterrent to proper learning, the absence of channels to relay concerns, thoughts, and feelings to the teachers is probably at the top.
Teachers, in the same way, should be given as much chance to participate and be in the know about their children’s progress. Otherwise, it will only leave a lasting negative impression that online learning will always be subordinate to its face-to-face counterpart.
4. Not Providing Enough Ways for Students and Teachers to Manage Their Time
Online learning may actually be more stressful because platforms don’t give them effective tools for time management. And this is despite the fact that online classrooms tend to be more flexible than traditional classrooms. Again, most of these problems are rooted in the lack of features that actively aid teachers and students to manage and even save time to meet deadlines and be more comfortable in teaching and learning respectively.
5. Not Being Open to Encouraging and Receiving Feedback
Feedback opens the way to improve and gives a good impression of transparency. As much as possible, parents would want to be able to air their qualms, should they have any, about crucial decisions and instructions relayed by school officials regularly.
The same goes for feedback students receive with regards to their performance. It serves as a gauge of how far they have progressed and what areas they need to improve on. Accessible feedback, in short, underlines how well the teacher knows his students. And in many cases, that’s just what parents need to know whether the tuition fee is worth it or not.
Steps Schools Should Consider Taking to Solve These Fundamental Issues
Introduce a Shift in Teaching Strategy and Goals Guided by Feedback
It’s high time for teachers to take a look at their teaching strategy and think of ways to raise students’ engagement more. Since feedback is an issue, then one direct approach is to actively ask students to share their own thoughts and opinions about what the teacher can do to improve his method of instruction.
One sound suggestion is to lean more towards a collaborative approach, which places value on the students’ ability to analyze and critique the information shared to them with everyone in the classroom. Collaboration-based learning ultimately maintains that student-to-student connection replete in physical classroom settings. It’s equally important to keep everything dynamic and interactive.
Even teachers can ask one another for feedback on their respective approaches. Since digital learning is still “terra incognita” for everyone, it’s only right to regard it as a work-in-progress endeavor. Continued improvement will only be beneficial for future generations of students and essentially acts like a safety blanket, especially if we juxtapose it with the miasma of uncertainty produced by this pandemic.
Start Relying on Technology More
Learning management systems are one of these overlooked solutions simply because they haven’t had their time in the spotlight yet. This is bound to change soon once LMS importance gains traction and begins to take care of the issues other alternatives simply can’t overcome.
It goes beyond extrapolation because most of its applications have already been proven. A lot of the recent LMS incarnations simply improve on what’s already available, thereby taking the inherent strengths of these innovative educational systems to the next level. They are built on satisfying the needs and preferences of students and teachers alike, which are essentially where plenty of these virtual classroom challenges arise in the first place.
With these facts considered, we can confirm that schools have plenty of tools in their disposal and that LMS importance can’t be denied. Ultimately, it rests solely in their hands whether they’ll use them to the fullest. But considering the unusual situation presented by the pandemic and the essentiality of schools, it arguably becomes a matter of necessity rather than choice.