The COVID-19 Pandemic that took up most of 2020 and for many spilled into 2021 and ‘22, created a host of new communication methods. Schools were one industry in the limelight that had to scramble to find effective and safe ways to provide care and education to millions of children.
Schools and universities in well-developed nations and within communities with ample access to the internet, wifi, and resources fared much better than poor communities and countries. However, there was a steep learning curve for all involved, no matter where you lived.
Despite the stress, frustration, and difficulties teachers, parents, and students faced implementing and utilizing new technologies, there were benefits for some, especially once administrators ironed out the wrinkles.
Now that the pandemic has slowed down in most parts of the world, teachers and schools are wondering if there is still a benefit or need for virtual classes.
Below are a handful of situations and benefits to schools, students, and families when virtual classes and meetings are available.
Virtual Class Benefits
Flexibility – Offering online classes gives parents, students, and teachers more flexibility. It cuts down on commute time, allowing more people to participate. It also allows for location flexibility. Teachers can teach from home or the school, and students can take classes anywhere equipped with the internet and necessary supplies (i.e., headset, microphone, software).
Differentiated Learning – For some students, online learning worked, and it worked well. Children that prefer independent work are less socially active, possess strong time management skills, and do well with technology, more often than not, enjoy online classes and learning.
Online classes also offer different tools that a teacher may not have available in the classroom. Online learning is often more independent, which creates an opportunity for more one-on-one attention in some situations.
Broader Access – Online classes allow schools and universities to offer their programs and classes to a broader base. A class offered online means that, in theory, someone on the other side of the world could take the class, assuming they speak the language and can be online at the correct time.
More realistically, it provides access to children and families who may not have reliable transportation.
Health & Safety – Online classes prevent the spread of illness and germs. Without in-person contact, a person cannot inadvertently spread germs they’re unaware they’re carrying to another person.
In addition, people are also less likely to miss when they have minor illnesses that may prevent them from participating. It also allows students recovering from an illness or in quarantine to participate once they begin feeling better.
Lower Costs – In most cases, online classes reduce costs for the school or institution. There is less overhead if teachers can teach from home or in a smaller space. Fewer people in the building reduce insurance costs. Resources like supplies, climate control, electricity, and water also cost significantly less.
Should My School Offer Online Classes?
Before deciding whether or not your school or institution should offer online classes, it is essential to assess your clientele or student base and their needs. Not all styles of schooling work well virtually, while others do pretty well.
For example, it is impossible to offer childcare virtually. Likewise, hands-on science labs, sports, and instrument instruction are a challenge to offer virtually. However, teachers may offer general athletic training, music, and science online if students have access to hands-on supplies or online programs like graphic arts or music composition software.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to online learning, just like there are no one-size-fits-all classrooms. Therefore, schools should carefully consider if the benefits of offering some online instruction outweigh the drawbacks or potential costs and create a solid plan before beginning.