Key Challenges of Online Learning Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that originally started in Wuhan, China in December 2019, many day-to-day activities have been interrupted indefinitely due to the social-distancing regulations imposed in a bid to control the spread of the Corona virus. Education is one of the phenomena that has been adversely affected by the pandemic since most schools across the world previously relied on physical face-to-face learning techniques. Thus, with the physical distancing regulations put in place, the education sector has had to rely on online classes in order to keep the students learning. However, even though the current technological advancements have made it easier for people to interact without necessarily being in the same room, the shift to e-learning is still quite challenging.

One of the key challenges of online learning is gadget shortage and connectivity. According to Dhawan, not every student can afford the gadgets required to facilitate the online classes because they hail from different socioeconomic backgrounds (11). Thus, the shortage/lack thereof of the said gadgets makes it very difficult for the affected students to learn with ease. With respect to connectivity, many people across the world are experiencing technical difficulties as a result of the high usage of online learning systems and video streaming software, among other digital tools. The connectivity problem is exacerbated by the unstable internet connection; a problem that is more common with students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, and one that further worsens the ‘homework gap. The poor connectivity is detrimental to the teachers’ ability to deliver as they have to deal with poor quality videos, audios, and some students not being able to attend the online classes at all due to the bad internet connections. The gadget shortage and connectivity issues are more amplified for the students with hearing and visual disabilities/issues.

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The organization of work process and time management is another key challenge associated with e-learning. Adedoyin et al. purport that teachers, for instance, are now tasked with juggling the use of numerous digital tools to deliver e-learning while attending virtual school, parents and student meetings, deciding the most befitting teaching strategy, grading assignments, and still dealing with the anxiety of surviving a pandemic (9). This problem is further amplified by the need to learn how to maneuver the e-learning systems in the shortest time possible. The said computer literacy challenge affects both the students and teachers, and it can be quite frustrating. Another key challenge associated with online learning is the psychological effects of isolation and lack of physical interaction. With the online classes, many students are now unable to have physical interaction which is needed to strengthen their social skills. The isolation is also detrimental to the students’ mental health as they are now more exposed to anxiety and depression due to the social disconnect. The lack of physical interaction also affects the student’s motivation and consequently, their learning progress.

Data privacy and cyber security are aspects of digital learning that may also pose a serious threat to the success of online learning. This statement is valid because the pressure from the pandemic to quickly transition to online learning has caused many people to neglect their privacy especially with many e-learning software suppliers offering temporary free subscription plans (Dhawan 17). Additionally, the now more pronounced use of online platforms renders people more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

In conclusion, the above-highlighted challenges of online learning can be very frustrating and discouraging for both students and teachers. Thus, measures have to be put in place to mitigate the said challenges in order to make learning easier while juggling the anxiety of surviving a pandemic.

 

Works Cited

Adedoyin, Olasile Babatunde, and Emrah Soykan. “Covid-19 pandemic and online learning: the challenges and opportunities.” Interactive Learning Environments (2020): 1-13.

Dhawan, Shivangi. “Online learning: A panacea in the time of COVID-19 crisis.” Journal of Educational Technology Systems 49.1 (2020): 5-22.