Remote learning is a situation where the source of information or the educators and students are not present physically in a traditional classroom environment. In this form of education, the distribution of information is through technological means like video conferencing, discussion boards, and online evaluations (Kim, 2020). Despite being one of the known forms of learning, its uptake has been gradual over the years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the uptake surge of remote learning, presenting numerous challenges to the global education systems due to their higher levels of unpreparedness. The new classroom dynamic has become the instant way of learning where teaching occurs on different digital platforms and remotely.
The scope of the Covid-19 pandemic's influence on our global education systems and our children's learning and health increases daily. Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of schools in different parts of the world disrupting the education of a large number of children. However, whether our children should return to the traditional classroom or stay remote to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic remains an examinable controversial issue (Marianna et al., 2020). With contemporary global situations, it will be challenging for our children to abide by social distancing guidelines and observe other stipulated measures set to curb the spread of Covid-19. Covid-19 pandemic and adoption of remote learning have led to many questions. Can a 3-year-old can wear a mask for 8 hours a day? Will online learning miss out on student interaction? How will we get technology and devices for all students? Will parents experience difficulties understanding technology? How will working parents stay home and stay on top of their children's education? Therefore, the paper will address problems that our children will face while attending remote learning due to the pandemic this fall, the benefits of remote learning, and the possible solutions that can be assumed to help them effectively as they adopt distance learning.
Insufficient Devices and Poor Internet Connectivity
Distance learning can either be asynchronous where students choose their learning hours through diverse platforms and at their own pace to complete different tasks or synchronous where all learning activities are conducted through audio or video conferencing. However, both methods present numerous challenges to parents, students, and teachers. Firstly, there are challenges associated with devices and internet connectivity that is affecting the progress of online learning during the pandemic (Taufiq Hail, 2020). The main limitation to consider is the inability of school-age students to access online education tools like computers. Additionally, limited experience among young children to use such tools presents difficulties in fully adopting successful online learning. The pandemic has attributed to the loss of jobs leading to financial issues among many parents (Kim, 2020). As a result, many parents cannot afford to provide all the required learning materials and tools to all students. This disparity has left many students out of the new education systems since they lack devices that would facilitate learning.
Access to online classes for young children demands parents’ involvement and supervision. Therefore, the unavailability of parents to guide and help the child may not make remote learning more effective. Furthermore, for proper childhood development, constant hand-no activities, and interactions must be incorporated to enhance their focus and learning experience (Kim, 2020). However, remote learning does not offer opportunities to involve young learners who need more socialization, unlike traditional classroom learning methods.
Students in less fortunate families and those from less funded institutions experience hard times to learn and cope up with other students since there are no internet connections and devices to enable them to participate in online classes (Kaufman et al., 2020). Despite the challenges of remote learning, our children's health and wellbeing remain the primacy given the nature of the spread of this virus. Therefore, the government should distribute devices to students, and the internet service should give free or subsidized data packages to enable students to access the internet and continue with their education (Taufiq Hail, 2020). With that, we will reduce the spread of Covid-19 as social distancing and wearing masks for 8 hours a day is impractical among our young school-going children.
For parents, they have been accorded new responsibilities for not only providing learning devices for their children but also to be involved in their education affairs, help, and to supervise their children when taking online classes. However, the main setback that parents face is the inability to use online learning management systems without formal training. Due to computer illiteracy among most parents, they fail to understand the new technology involved in remote learning and to help their children (Taufiq Hail, 2020). Therefore, parents should make use of digital platforms and support systems that provide customer support and tutorials. Bearing in mind that this pandemic is still with us until the creation of vaccines, this is a temporary solution to accomplish successful remote learning while ensuring that our children are safe from infection.
Teachers, on the other hand, were never prepared for this sudden shift concerning the digitized change in learning and teaching techniques. Teachers’ unfamiliarity with online learning technologies of delivering learning content and educational materials to students has also been a considerable challenge (Kim, 2020). Additionally, teachers face challenges with teaching, communicating, and distribution of learning materials when students do not have internet and the proper tools to attend virtual classes. However, teachers should make use of digital platforms that have proved to be potent and offer them maximum support for productive remote teaching and learning process to students. Additionally, numerous digital platforms have enhanced their services to facilitate successful learning processes. Therefore, despite being a challenging time, all must get involved and prevent more school infections among children. Being that our children's health and wellbeing is the primary and most important during the pandemic, adoption of advanced online learning digital platforms may attribute to successful remote learning.
Poor Support System
Increased periods of isolation among students have resulted in psychological factors affecting children’s learning progress and motivation (Taufiq Hail, 2020). Moreover, due to different measures taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, most parents are mentally, physically, and psychologically overburdened and overstressed, inclusive of economical difficulties, they now have to psychologically, physically and educationally take care of their children (Taufiq Hail, 2020). As a result, most parents have failed to support their children and establish suitable home structures for a favorable online learning environment. Therefore, children are increasingly becoming non-compliant with their assignments since they cannot fully navigate the whole online learning process without parental support. Unsuitable home learning structures to ensure that they attend virtual classes and complete schoolwork and projects also make students intractable.
In homes where all parents are working and no guardians to assist them during their virtual classes, the absence of assistance, focus, and time making online learning and engagement with students difficult. Such an ineffective support system from home makes students non-compliant since they are not able to complete their school projects and assignments on time, and some even fail to attend virtual classes (Kim, 2020). As a result, research indicates that teachers often find it hard to deal with such students. However, excellent support systems within home consisting of parents’ involvement will certainly increase compliance among the students’ hence driving successful remote learning.
Benefits of Remote Learning During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Remote learning during this pandemic has proved to be one of the viable ways to prevent further spread of Covid-19 among students. Since children’s health and their wellbeing is the precedence and most significant due to the contemporary global health state, parents, teachers, education stakeholders, government, and students at large should consider distance learning as a temporary solution as the nation works on getting vaccines. Therefore, it is prudent to make wise decisions that will facilitate saving the life of our children.
Shift to remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak presents distinct benefits to parents, students, and teachers. With measures such as social distancing, avoiding gatherings of people exceeding ten individuals, among other implemented local policies inclusive of the closure of schools, the spread of the virus has considerably reduced among students, teachers, and parents (Kaufman et al., 2020). Consequently, the healths of students are not compromised at school, minimizing the mortality rates as a result of the pandemic.
Additionally, since most parents are now at home more involved and spend most of their time with their children, they now have the opportunity to build stronger bonds between them and their children. As a result, remote learning offers an occasion for an emotional connection with their children as they become involved with their affairs during this global health crisis (Kaufman et al., 2020). Similarly, teachers also have enough time to stay at home with their children, bonding together while providing their services virtually to all students.
Covid-19 pandemic has globally disoriented every sector, and the education sector is not an exception. With measures and policies in place, there are minimal infections and mortality rates. The introduction of remote learning is geared towards curbing the spread of the virus among students. With children's wellbeing and health being the predominance issue, adoption of online learning is a suitable temporary solution while the state struggles to get vaccines. Moreover, despite the challenges this program faces, it has proved to be successful with a proper support system, computer literacy, and accessibility of both devices and internet connectivity. Distance learning not only facilitates the continuation of learning among students, but it also ensures that students' health is not compromised, and parents build a strong bond with their children. Moreover, teachers also have more time being involved in their children's lives and educational affairs while virtually providing their services.
Kim, J. (2020). Learning and Teaching Online During Covid-19: Experiences of Student Teachers in an Early Childhood Education Practicum. International Journal Of Early Childhood.
Kaufman, J., Hamilton, L., & Diliberti, M. (2020). Which Parents Need the Most Support While K–12 Schools and Child Care Centers Are Physically Closed?. Rand.org. Retrieved 21 August 2020, from https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA308-7.html.
Marianna, C., Immacolata, S., & Giuseppe, M. (2020). Parents in Pandemic: Parents' perceptions of risks and psychological, relational, and pedagogical needs in childhood during the COVID-19 emergency in Italy. Academicus International Scientific Journal, 22, 103-122.
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