Both remote learning and remote teaching have come to the rescue of the educational challenges brought by The COVID pandemic. Almost two years have now passed since this game-changing plague engulfed our planet — and there’s still no sign that it will be abating any time soon.
But if there can be said to be a single word that sums up humanity, it’s resilient. In the face of adversity, human beings have always asked themselves the question: how can we adapt to this new state of affairs?
One critical area where we have in fact adapted quite swiftly to the pandemic reality is that of education. Most brick-and-mortar schools and other educational facilities closed their doors early on in the pandemic, as it became clear this was necessary to protect the public health. These closures meant that we had to figure out other ways to keep our students learning.
Fortunately, humanity had already reached a point in our technological evolution where remote learning was a possibility: and through the use of the technology of the Internet, we have been able to hit the ground running, continuing to teach and learn without missing a step.
Is the rise in distance learning nothing more than an exception, an aberration, brought on by the necessity of a dire situation, but fated to pass once that crisis abates? Will teaching models revert to “the norm” once the pandemic finally ends?
Or could this new state of affairs be more than just a passing fad? Could we now, in fact, be in the midst of nothing less than a fundamental paradigm shift in the traditional view of education?
Educational research conducted since the advent of the pandemic indicates that there may be lasting benefits to distance learning, beyond just temporary necessity — benefits that might make this paradigm shift something more lasting than just an emergency stopgap measure.
What we're going to do is take a look at five areas where remote learning actually has an advantage over traditional classroom learning — and how such factors may prove to be more lasting and important in the long run than we might think.
One of the most obvious advantages to remote learning is that both the student and the teacher enjoy increased flexibility in terms of scheduling: by removing the need to travel to a place of learning, both student and teacher free up time for other things: waking up, preparation, getting a snack, whatever the case may be. Not to mention the fact that by learning at home, the student has complete privacy and total control of their own learning environment — meaning that any distractions one might encounter in a classroom setting are not an issue. This is another one of the advantages to remote learning — and for remote teaching as well.
When it comes to remote learning, the student is free to set their own learning pace. Faster students can work as quickly as they want, while students who may have slower learning strategies can make use of the extra time remote education affords them, to take their time and ensure that they fully grasp whatever it is they are trying to learn. No more getting behind because the course is moving too quickly: with remote learning, you can set your own pace. This strikes us as a clear advantage over the traditional educational model, where everyone — regardless of their personal learning strategy — sits in the same classroom and receives the learning materials at the same monolithic pace.
Another plus to remote learning is that additional time is freed up (due to the fact that such time-sucking processes as travel and “getting ready” are eliminated from the equation), which means that there are fewer balls to juggle in one’s schedule. This, in turn, allows for more effective and efficient time management: gone are the days of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, scrambling to meet deadlines or not be late.
One often overlooked benefit to remote learning is the acquisition and development of new technical skills. With the medium itself (the Internet) being a technology-dependent platform, the remote learning student can’t help but become more conversant in areas like computer proficiency, Internet fluency, and a host of other technical abilities that are required by — and utilized in — remote learning.
In a world that is becoming more and more technology-dependent by the day, it can only be a benefit to be obliged to learn and utilize technology every day. In distance learning, the medium itself becomes a valuable skill set.
One of the best things about remote learning (and remote teaching) is that you can take remote classes from anywhere — and not just anywhere in your house, but anywhere in the world. You could theoretically learn from a different place every day: all you’d need is a laptop and an Internet connection.
Perhaps a student is studying abroad, and they want to find employment: online education can be a fantastic opportunity. With the existence of remote learning/teaching, you no longer have to relinquish work or study while simultaneously exploring fun and exotic locations: you can have your cake and eat it too.
These are just a few of the advantages to remote learning — and a few reasons why it might be more than just a flash in the pan.
There are lots of other advantages as well, including:
If you’ve ever wondered whether remote learning might be for you, there’s never been a better time to look into it: the circumstances of our present reality have made it more relevant than ever, and the technology available has never been better.