The Coved-19 virus has turned the world upside down; all sectors, including education, have been severely affected, and the world is looking for new strategies to address the epidemic and its consequences.
Online education and e-learning is now viewed by educational institutions as a window of hope. This has made efforts to integrate online education and the use of technical tools such as learning management systems (LMS) and online conference platforms such as Udemy, Educadium, CourseCraft and Skillshare, and are trying to come up with different ways to reach their students who are quarantined in their homes, towns and villages.
But skeptics and cynics have created myths about e-learning , which is why Indian educational expert Dr. Joseph Dorairaj (dean of the School of Foreign Languages at the Rural Gandigram Institute) tries to uncover these illusions in a recent article in The Hindu, referring to what he describes as “seven myths of online learning”, which lead societies to disrupt knowledge and share skills. Let us follow these myths according to the expert:
1-The target of distance education is young people
“I’ve heard teachers say, “I have two more years to retire and I don’t tend to learn anything new, especially online teaching, at this point in my life,” says Dr. Joseph. Or “Oh, these online educational practices are for those young people in their 30s, certainly not for those over 50,”a few others commented: “Virtual teaching is for those who have the technical skill, not for people like me who don’t like technology or find it difficult”
The truth is that everyone — young and old, knowledgeable and hateful — has to live with distance learning. In other words, technology in higher education in particular has become established and all teachers must make a clear and conscious shift despite their age and attitude. “Successful people are those who love and welcome change.”
2. Online education is only temporary
It is undeniable that we are living through difficult times because of the epidemic of the coronavirus. Against this background, quite a few people argue that online teaching is only a temporary arrangement — at most for one or two semesters. Some feel that when normal life returns, he will return to chalk and talk to his students. So, why bother learning new teaching methodologies? The truth is that online teaching has already become an integral part of our education system and irreversible changes have been made. COVID-19 has radically changed teaching methodologies and there is no turning back. The winners are those who embrace technology and view online education not as a long-term change in the game.
3. Online teaching does not do justice
Some argue that online education subtly favours those who have access to high-tech and reject disadvantaged groups in society.
There may be some truth here but the bigger truth is that online education is for everyone. In most cases, all students need is an Internet smartphone, many of whom own that phone or have a family member at home. Most students can access Zoom, Google Hangout, or Cisco WebEx Meeting using their smartphone.
Therefore, the claim that online teaching will exacerbate the social and economic gap between students is not justified. It is true that in rural and semi-urban areas, high-speed Internet may not be available around the clock. But online teaching, especially asynchronous situation, will certainly help all students because of its flexibility.
4- Technology will eventually replace the teacher
The last two decades have brought a conscious welcome to make the curriculum student-focused. But the epidemic has brought another paradigm shift — a conscious and deliberate move towards technology. Earlier, teachers were synonymous with chalk but are now seen with laptops and phones and this would sum up the change in education.
There is an innate fear in teachers, especially those with old experiences that technology will eventually replace them. Teachers should be assured that they could not be replaced, but should also be told that their role had changed significantly.
Earlier,teachers were seen as repositories of knowledge. But now they are seen as curriculum designers, content developers, and knowledge participants — all through a means of technology.
Therefore, any of them needs to develop a different set of skills, especially knowledge of learning management systems (LMS).
5- Students prefer face-to-face interaction
This is an accurate form of resistance. Teachers who are not very comfortable with technology and are reluctant to switch to online teaching use a weak argue that their students prefer to interact face-to-face rather than teach online. This stems from the wish that teachers are indispensable and, without them, the teaching and learning system will collapse.
Young people are not only familiar with technology, but are also willing to embrace change in any way. They are constantly looking forward to new ideas and love experience and innovation, so they won’t have major issues in the transition to online education.
Most students, if their destination is correct, will switch to online learning smoothly and the ball will be in the playground of the educational system, especially teachers, to facilitate this transition smoothly. For these students, it is not about technology and teachers alike.
6- Online education is not effective
There are quite a few advantages in interacting within the classroom face-to-face, the most important of which is that teachers monitor what the student is learning and even his or her mood, his reaction, and unfortunately this feature is almost absent online. Besides, the extent to which students are interested in online interaction, especially in asynchronous lessons (not live broadcasts), is unpredictable. Therefore, face-to-face interaction is said to be better than online education.
In fact, there are advantages and disadvantages in both directions. But good teachers are always, whatever the situation. A good teacher will always adjust the content and the delivery mechanism according to the situation and ensure that there is no significant gap between the presentation and absorption of the material.
7-Certificates obtained through “online” are not valid
In India for example, and most countries, education and accredited certificates continue to be synonymous with traditional offline education, which is linked to schools and colleges in their physical structures.
We are still reluctant to accept the degrees and diplomas acquired through the Internet, which, if we accept them, remain low in the subconscious compared to other degrees.
Online education is also assumed to be for those who do not reach regular colleges or universities. Even in the labor market, online certificates are not treated on an equal footing with their regular counterparts.
Two clarifications need to be made, according to Dr. Joseph, that the kind of online learning we are discussing is actually a combination of online learning while maintaining face-to-face interaction, due to the fact that regular classes cannot be conducted because of closure, forcing teachers and institutions to switch to online status. Therefore, in the strict sense of the word, it is not an educational programme that is sufficient lycere to the Internet.
Secondly, technically, there is no distinction between grades and certificates obtained through online and other education, and it is entirely up to the student and the educational authority that grants the certificates and their reliability.
“Extraordinary times and situations call for bold and radical solutions,” says the Indian academic expert. In this new system created by the epidemic, teachers must constantly rediscover themselves to address the requirements of this crisis and provide students with everything relevant and help them adapt to the crisis, thus gaining wider experience and flexibility to continue their success.