Online classes have become part of the lives of millions of children and young people since it was decided to take this action to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Although schools have reopened in some countries or plan to do so soon, virtual classes will continue to be part of new hybrid educational models, combining face-to-face and virtual classes.
The decision to close most schools in the world was rushed, in many cases without achieving an efficient online education system or even lacking the necessary infrastructure. Now, learning from the mistakes of the first months and with the intention of incorporating online classes into the educational model, schools are looking for children to get the same benefit from distance classes as they do in person. Given this scenario, it is normal as parents to question what the advantages and disadvantages of virtual classes are for our kids and to think about ways we can work with schools to create better learning outcomes for our students.
Advantages of Virtual Classes
Multimedia Content Support
Using platforms like Google Classroom, teachers can complement content with various online
resources, such as YouTube videos, quizzes, educational websites, and more. Students receive classes from the devices they are used to. This is a good way to show children and teenagers that the Internet is a source of knowledge, and not just fun videos or social media. They are digital natives, and have shown that they are comfortable using online teaching platforms, even becoming familiar with and learning how to navigate in faster than parents.
Unlike classes at school, where if the child does not attend or is distracted and the class of the day is missed, online platforms allow the child to see the support material shared by teachers at any time and place. Also, they have the opportunity to review it as many times as necessary.
Greater Focus on Content Students sometimes can be distracted by other students or learning in a group environment. Online learning provides an opportunity for students to be able to learn without distractions from the class clown or transitions that can throw off concentration for some students.
Student Paced Learning Teachers have a certain amount of material they have to cover each day despite students who are working at a faster or slower pace than the curriculum mandates. Online learning can allow for students who work faster to move ahead and for students who need to spend some more time with material, students can spend more time with material which they may need without feeling pressure from the class to move faster than they are capable of. Sometimes students benefit by spending more time if they are able to concentrate on some material for a longer time period as not everyone works at the same pace.
Disadvantages of virtual classes
Little Teacher-Student Interaction
The need to move classes to digital platforms hastily, brought about technical limitations,
communication problems and, frequently, frustration by students and parents. Many students complained that they could not ask questions or interact with their teachers as they normally have in the classroom. Teachers also had problems explaining new topics to their students by not being able to identify everyone they understand. Sometimes the only way to communicate is through a chat, and students must wait hours or even days to get a response from the teacher, whoever takes the time to attend to the requests of all their students.
Limited Social Interactions with Peers
One of the most important parts of school is learning how to work together as a group. The lack of socialization for students, families and teachers has proven difficult for everyone. It’s natural for kids to miss interacting with peers during breaks and group activities and they find it strange to take classes with no company other than the screen of a device.
Lack of Motivation Teacher and peer to peer motivation can inspire students to work to a higher ability than some students may naturally be motivated to achieve without encouragement. Students can benefit from teacher, family and peer support to help enrich their learning process.
Achieving the Best Results of a Hybrid Model
There are both advantages and disadvantages to in-person and online classes. As many schools worldwide are now adopting a hybrid model of both online and in-person classes as part of its educational model, there is the hope of more peer to peer and student to teacher interactions this year coupled with the flexibility and multimedia support for various types of learners, we’re hopeful the new hybrid models will include the best of both worlds.