Online Schooling Pros And Cons (What You Need To Know)

Maximus Escouri
Online learning pros

Coronavirus has reshaped the global education landscape. Parents all over the world have been forced to ‘home-school’ their children because of the virus lockdown.

In the Southern Hemisphere, school closures have serious implications because we are still in the second term of the academic year. Over 3 million Australian students (both primary and secondary schools) may have to study online for the rest of the academic year, pending the second wave of winter infections.

Will online schooling work in Australia? We examine the key advantages and disadvantages of online education.

Pros of Online Schooling

1. Sophisticated online teaching and learning technology is available

One of the advantages of online education is that the platforms to teach remotely are available today. Sophisticated e-learning platforms provide all-inclusive experiences that incorporate visual, audio and data streaming services. Students and teachers connect using platforms that they are already familiar with.

Some schools are already creatively transforming classes to online teaching. For example, a private school in Eastern Sydney is teaching swimming lessons online with videos of the coach swimming laps and doing tumbles. Drama classes are conducted virtually and Microsoft Teams software is used as debate practice.

Online learning has also been adopted by private learning institutions. A popular music school in Vaucluse has already shifted all of its classes online for students who are self-isolating at home.

2. Children are technologically savvy

Children today are digital natives and can easily learn using technology. Children are surrounded by mobile devices, the internet, and instantaneous connections. Their brains are wired to adapt to technology. It is not unusual to find a toddler playing with his/her parent’s mobile or tablet. Or to hear them use words like ‘password’, ‘wifi’ and ‘internet’. Young children up to the age of 7 years old, learn visually and are ideally suited to the intuitive nature of screens. The touch-screen functions of a mobile, tablet or computer can also be easily manipulated by tiny fingers.

3. Online learning foster independent learning

Learning online promotes flexible learning and self-discipline. Without the structure of a brick-and-mortar classroom, a child under ‘stay-at-home’ orders will have to develop his/her learning schedule. Online learning if supervised correctly, can teach valuable life skills like independence, self-discipline, goal setting, and focus.

Cons of Online Schooling

1. The great digital divide

For online education to work, the technology and infrastructure must be available to everyone. The pandemic has exposed a digital divide between Australian suburbs. Despite the recent NBN rollout, a large percentage of Australian households do not have the technology that is required for online home-schooling. In other words, not all NBN connections are created equal.

2. More parental involvement

Parents have to be more involved with their kids’ academic studies because of social distancing guidelines. A report from ABC shows that parents are finding it hard to teach their children at home because of coronavirus.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, only about 20,000 students across Australia were home-schooled. Now, every child is studying from home. Without the face-to-face support from their teachers, children have to depend on the adults at home to fill the void. Parents themselves may be ill-equipped to help their children. Parents are struggling with guiding their children through lessons, maintaining a routine and motivating their children to complete study and complete homework.

Many parents are also working from home and trying to find a balance between their professional work and their children’s education has become stressful.

3. ‘I never thought I’d say it, but I miss going to school’

Educators have expressed concerns that children forced to quarantine at home may be missing out on social development. Socialisation at school, helps the individual to interact and communicate with others in society. Studying alone at home means the child will not have normal face-to-face interactions with their teachers and peers.                                           

Recently some 500 students wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald to express their experiences of home learning while they self-isolate at home. The children’s comments were varied. Some children were positive. Some were sad and many were reflective. But all of them were endearing and close to the heart. Here are some examples:

“Accidentally called my teacher ‘Mum’ again but this time I was actually right.” Jaycob Diaz, 7, Stanhope Garden

“Rich class discussions, a large whiteboard and the opportunity to communicate face-to-face simply cannot be replaced by consecutive Zoom lessons.” Alisha Gugnani, 14, West Pennant Hill

“No one to talk to in class, No one to play with in the backyard. No sport or going to the library. Just me and the computer screen. Also, the teachers will not let you wear your pyjamas, after all!” Anna Slack, 8, Hunters Hill

“The only good thing about learning from home is you can eat in class ….” Clementine Balfas Bell, 11 Newtown

“You get to spend way more time with your family, play tonnes of soccer in the backyard, go for afternoon walks, eat yummy hot lunches instead of vegemite sandwiches, and stay in your PJs”. Darcy McNicholas, 9, North Epping

 “My daughter asked: Dad, what is a synonym? And I replied: It’s a spice”

We applaud all the heroes’ moms and dads who are doing their best to become home-school teachers to their children in this time of social distancing. From toddlers refusing to cooperate to teenagers complaining about the amount of homework they have to do, home learning is a challenge and we’ve all gained a new appreciation of our kids’ teachers.

Whether you’re doing a great (or not so great) job – the important thing to remember is that we’re in this together.

Stay Safe!

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