Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of online learning

Online learning has existed since the beginning of the Internet, allowing people from across the globe to educate themselves on any topic without attending schools in person. This was revolutionary for students, who benefitted from having the information one click away, and for companies who could now offer their educating services without relying on a fixed location.

Contrary to popular belief, studying remotely offers advantages that traditional education has never had before. From flexible time management to gaining autonomy, studying on the internet provides a much more liberating experience. Thanks to this, the student becomes the protagonist of their learning process and can develop personalized strategies to make the most of their potential.

Why choose online learning?

Educational institutions have sought to include strategies in their methods and plans to mold them to the virtual modality and contribute to the integral formation of students. Technological advances have allowed the adaptation of education to virtuality to be smoother and, therefore, beneficial for students. Some of these aspects are:

  • Autonomy
  • Students can work at their own pace and gain independence: virtuality favors their role as protagonists in the learning process. A good design allows them to decide when, how, and with what to learn, giving them the advantage of managing their time in the way that most benefits them. Generally, deadlines are stipulated, but you will be the one who will manage the time to do the work. This is a great advantage for people with other obligations, such as work, parental life, or studying an extra career.

  • Creating community
  • Online communication tools between teacher and student, as well as between them, can foster collaborative learning. These interactions enrich the experience through the sense of belonging and the cultivation of values such as respect, solidarity, or the approach to other cultures. Additionally, people who don’t feel comfortable participating during in-person classes can better develop their expression skills through online training, either by written means or video conferences, since the pressure of everyone staring is relieved.

  • Diversity of learning tools
  • The virtual modality offers both students and teachers the possibility to communicate and manage information in different formats and media. Students have a range of resources and activities at their disposal and can select the ones that best suit their style and interests. Likewise, to the extent that the strategy allows, they can even build these resources.

  • Economy and savings
  • Academic programs and courses are offered at much more reasonable prices because they are developed at a distance and online. Undoubtedly, a virtual education method will save you lots of money since transport is out of the picture. In addition, the academic and formative material is usually also virtual and digitally managed, which will reduce your expenses.

  • Personalized training
  • There is a direct and more personalized contact between teacher and student in many of the courses and programs offered online, either by email or video calls. Students can ask questions, share doubts, and debate opinions in a more personal way that overcomes physical distance.

  • Flexibility
  • Online education offers the benefit of studying anywhere. You can choose your favorite spot to work from, whether your home, a library or a cafe. Because of this, it allows you to have more control over your life outside of school. Transportation, presentability and rushes are out of the picture. Online schooling gives you the freedom of connecting from your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you are. The advantage becomes even greater when it comes to enrolling yourself in foreign schools, solving the economic and emotional issues that come with moving abroad.

The challenges of virtual education

Although it is advisable to maintain a routine and be consistent, various factors such as accessibility to the necessary technology, family difficulties, and other circumstances can affect the virtual implementation of a traditional school schedule. Both teachers and students must “unlearn” in this day and age that a virtual schedule is not the same as a traditional one. The pace of remote learning is different. A normal day’s structure is very different from when at home and even more so when all family members have to share their lives at home.

Lack of social interaction

Attending college, university, or institutes and receiving lessons in a classroom involves meeting and interacting directly with our classmates. In the case of online schooling, it does not occur since contact with your classmates or teacher will be purely virtual, either in writing or by web conferences.

Continuous use of computers and screens

If your thing is didactics and movement, you must know that the online learning method requires dedicating long periods to your laptop. You can spend hours in front of your work and learning tool, which implies less movement. It is also fundamental that you have active breaks since spending too much time at your computer can cause discomfort in your vision and back from being in the same position.

Self-discipline and willpower

tips for better willpower

This is a relative disadvantage and an important aspect to highlight. Some students lack motivation when it comes to continuing or finishing their online courses successfully. Although you manage your own time and learning style, you must set goals to constantly pursue your online training to complete it and get the most out of it. Online training and education are an innovative method that serves as a tool for many people with different conditions and situations to access new learning methods, which suggests a great advance at a social and economic level in the short, medium, and long term.

How did COVID push us to improve online education?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to defy the global educational system. One of the least expected challenges has to do with virtual education and its massification during the pandemic. This is a reality for which a large part of the educational community was unprepared, but it has had to face it as it went along.

Virtual distance education requires a higher level of organization, planning, interaction, and sustained support to all those involved. They are the ones who must understand the whole scenario that involves remote teaching and learning, including the student, their family, the educational staff, and society.

Challenges of virtual education

According to the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, approximately 24 million kids will probably desert their studies because of COVID. This is due to the lack of digital resources available to the world’s population. The COVID-19 crisis revealed a tangible reality: not all households have an Internet connection for virtual education. It also revealed that not all families have the acquisitive power to buy the necessary equipment to connect to the online academic world.

Online education has been a privilege that is gradually becoming a right. Considering we are currently in a digital era; it is crucial to have these tools to generate better opportunities and seek equity. These opportunities have always been just a click away, however, they have recently been enhanced thanks to the abrupt digital awakening brought by the pandemic.

In order to face these unfortunate circumstances generated by inequality, what can educators and students do? Here are some of the challenges presented by online learning:

  • Knowing the student’s reality
  • To answer how to improve and facilitate online learning, it is essential to share the knowledge on technological solutions and the conditions required for their application. Consequently, we need to recognize each individual’s study conditions to develop activities that fit their needs and possibilities.

    In this aspect, it is also essential to know what the student requires and how the previously taught knowledge can be conveyed to them. This is a complex task since the circumstances of each student are different.

  • Virtual education: taking advantage of digital tools
  • One of the main challenges of virtual education is the appropriation and use of technological tools and methodologies designed for digital environments. Modern society demands the mastery of multiple platforms and channels to ensure adequate teaching. Institutions and students are responsible for continuously updating and developing technological skills that facilitate the educational process. An example of this is social networks that can provide a closer narrative, such as TikTok.

    A broad perspective of reality is required to prevent holding back or slowing down virtual education, allowing for adaptation and, therefore, continuing to bet on educational excellence. Being open to change is essential when it comes to working online. Thanks to the Internet, we have a wide range of applications, tools, and formats to diversify our work and make it more practical. Therefore, opening your mind to new study methods and tools is essential for success.

  • Always keep in touch with each other
  • Another challenge of virtual education is to communicate adequately with all the figures involved in the educational process. Inefficient communication can lead to parents, teachers or management staff not being aligned about the educational method used and what is necessary for it to work. In children and teenagers, parents have become first-hand witnesses of the educational process at home. It is essential to take advantage of their closeness to innovate together.

    Virtuality takes away an essential part of communication: body language. This allows us to identify the tone and context of interactions, so it is essential to learn to communicate clearly and efficiently through text. Being concise is very important, but let’s not forget that we can’t leave out elements of our dialogue that might lead to misunderstandings.

How to improve virtual education?

There is not a rule that can accurately answer this question. However, some essential elements can be looked at when improving the quality of virtual education.

Educating on Technology

All participants of the educational process must develop skills related to technology. Both teachers and students should explore different digital tools to make the most of online education and facilitate understanding topics taught in class.

The methodology of virtual teaching must be different from the traditional one since digital media offer us the possibility of creating more “complex” work in less time. Expanding your knowledge of digital applications will make school life much more enjoyable and you will obtain outstanding results.

Create collaborative virtual environments

Improving virtual education also involves assigning the student a leading role in the development of their education. From there, they can hold an open dialogue with classmates and teachers, reflecting on their reality in order to generate a good change in their academic performance.

There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, creating social connections through education will help you become a more well-rounded and upright professional. In addition, generating a network of contacts will lead to new lessons for you, whether it is in topics related to your studies or in online learning strategies and methodologies.

Using alternative learning strategies

Games have always represented a form of motivation for children. They allow the student to be attentive and to approach knowledge from a playful aspect. The virtual environment favors gamification since several free tools facilitate the creation of games such as word search, crossword puzzles and trivia. Virtual education requires training and the development and improvement of didactics, leadership, research and educational innovation.

Avoiding Academic Burnout Syndrome while Learning Online

Academic burnout is an exhaustion in the daily activities related to study, and it can have severe consequences for your health. It is not something temporary but a long-term and continuous wear and tear. This disorder affects the physical, mental, and emotional parts of the individual. Academic burnout syndrome is associated with how people are emotionally prepared for the activities developed in the educational environment, how they learn to deal with stress, and the number of activities or responsibilities they oversee.

Why does it happen?

Students usually feel tremendous pressure to be the “good student” who excels in all activities and performance. The stress can be so great that some students load themselves with more than they can handle, leading to anxiety, guilt, and emotional burdens. This feeling can worsen when studying remotely since being at home can lead to more distractions or less productivity. This idea of “being able to do everything alone” and “at the same time” results in long-term wear and tear, as more and more of that personal and free space is avoided.

The most common symptoms of this type of burnout are:

  • Feeling continuous exhaustion
  • Increased tension in the body (can lead to headaches, muscle, or jaw pain)
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Lack of motivation regarding academic activities
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Not wanting to participate in anything related to studies
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Lack of creativity and desire to carry out projects
  • Feeling irritable and attacking others
  • Loss of confidence in academic skills
  • Feeling bored or discouraged in activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • Inability to concentrate in classes

Avoiding overwork

There is not a recommended number of activities that you can do before overworking yourself. It is necessary to understand on a personal level what the student is comfortable with and to improve communication channels with family, friends, and teachers who can help.

It is also essential to realize that being involved in more activities does not directly impact the quality of the student’s work. Participating in many courses does not assure doing well in all of them, nor having a more positive perception of myself.

Remember that, even digitally, an academic program involves attending classes, doing homework, having study sessions, designing presentations, researching in the library, reading guides or recommended materials, and taking exams.

Being a student already involves many activities, so you can complement your free time with sports or cultural activities to relieve academic and emotional burdens.

Prevention and “cure”

It is fundamental to pay attention to the signs that appear along the student journey, as some may be wake-up calls from their body or mind due to progressive exhaustion. Some good practices students can do to avoid burnout are:

Learning to say “No”

Students may be constantly encouraged by their peers, teachers, and other institutions to join new groups, do new activities, and even sign up for new courses or workshops. When feeling like you have enough activities and no time to do more, it’s okay to say, “I can’t do it.”

It is understandable that it feels embarrassing because nobody wants to look bad and disappoint others but learning to say “no” is a matter of educating yourself about your priorities and what things are optional. This way, you can also manage your time better. It is also likely that your answer will be: “not now, but maybe later”.

Sleep well

Rest is necessary to regain the strength you need to face each new day. Usually, we mix our resting and studying schedules and spaces when studying from home. Therefore, it is crucial to establish routines and rules that respect your body and mental health.

Check if it is possible to organize your time, improve your weekly schedule and if there is no other option, try not to stay awake so often. Do not make this a continuous practice that can affect your mind and concentration.

Be moderate, know your limits

Moderation when it comes to activities means understanding how much you can do and still enjoy it. We often accept projects that we are not passionate about to feel productive and leave aside the feeling of wasting time. However, we should value resting time and see it as an investment in our relationship with ourselves.

When you feel that you are no longer enjoying an activity or need to reduce the amount of work, it is good to analyze your options and put them on a scale. This will help you improve your ability to prioritize your activities, evaluate your responsibility, and offer positive solutions to all parties.

Find room for everything

Academic and extracurricular activities, social and family life, work, partner, and friends are all parts of your life to which you should dedicate some space and time.

Depending on the situation, it may take some figuring out to find the balance between what you can give to each part of your life without feeling exhausted. Always try to maintain good communication so that each person understands you won’t always be available. You must save space for yourself, rest, play, be distracted, and relax between activities.

When you require support, remember that you can attend an online psychology service. There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to a mental health expert. On the contrary, it can help you solve many of the problems you are going through that make you feel misunderstood.

Welcome post

We are honored to welcome you to ernweb, your trusted blog for online learning. Get some answers about your virtual education in ernweb’s blog entries, where we will discuss anything from costs to mental health. At ernweb, our primary goal is to guide you through your educational process and give you tips on making your life easier. We also want to illuminate our audience about new technologies and how to make the most of them in our daily student lives.

Visit our portal to discover:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of online learning
  • How to increase your productivity
  • Selfcare: Caring for your mental and physical health
  • The evolution of virtual education
  • Tips on time management and discipline

Do not pass on the fascinating facts about online schooling. Follow our social media accounts and look at our blog each day to find inspiration, calmness, and motivation. At Ernweb, we use innovative ways of communication to connect with our community daily, answering their requests and offering practical advice. We cover topics like:

  • Stress and burnout
  • Innovative scholar apps
  • Organization and scheduling
  • Leisure activities and mindfulness
  • Investigation and development of schoolwork
  • Improvement of relationships within the community

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