In a nutshell, remote learnings just what it sounds like: the ability to remotely educate a diverse set of learners. But, instead of having to come to a physical location, through the innovation of the world wide web, provided there’s a solid internet connection, students can learn from wherever they happen to be.
Exploring the Good and Bad Aspects of Remote Learning
With any innovation, there are going to be benefits and drawbacks. For example, electric light reduced smoke and caused fewer fires than candles did. However, there was still light pollution and electricity production to consider. Well, remote learning is in a similar category–it has its pros and cons. We’ll explore several of each here:
Pro: Students learn new skills through associated in-class technology
Remote learning requires skills in terms of online navigation that would not have been available otherwise. Why learn how to navigate new software you’re never going to use? However, with Zoom, Google Meet, and other online conference software, it becomes increasingly clear that associated familiarity is paramount to professional viability in modernity. As a bonus, remote learning increases the digital competency of employees regarding conferencing software and other tools that can give personnel and businesses a competitive edge.
Con: Technical issues can stifle learning effectiveness
Distance learners need to ensure that their home computer equipment meets the software and hardware requirements for courses. Unfortunately, the quick pivot to online learning didn’t account for those without access to such technology. Additionally, learners of all ages can have a frustrating experience when residing in rural areas with low bandwidth. Successfully navigating multiple platforms, completing assignments, and getting help through video conferencing are all highly dependent on a solid internet connection.
Pro: More freedom for breaks and learning at a slower pace
With remote learning, students can learn at a pace that matches their abilities. Many remote lessons are recorded in advance, and students simply follow along. Accordingly, if they need a break, they can take it. If they need to run a video back, they can do that and explore what was being taught more closely–that’s impossible in a general classroom.
Con: Isolation can have negative effects on mental health
It has been discovered isolation has disastrous effects on mental health, and many remote learning situations have developed specifically due to social distancing. Accordingly, many using this method of education are doing so out of necessity and don’t have direct human contact. That’s not good for the mind. Face-to-face classes are favorable in this respect.
Pro: Better problem solving and family time
You don’t have anybody to help when learning remotely–at least not in a “hands-on” way. As a result, students doing a remote course at home will have to figure out their own issues. That’s a positive because it will help them be better problem solvers. Also, since they’re at home, they get to spend more time with their families, which can have a positive mental health component.
Con: Increased responsibility at home
When students are working and learning remotely, the responsibility to learn falls on them, and they have only themselves for motivation. Some students aren’t able to make that work, and it can affect productivity overall. Also, family responsibilities can take preference over academic responsibilities, initiating a conflict of interest that isn’t evident when students work and learn from a centralized location.
Determining Which Options are Right for You or Your Business
Students of all types can experience notable benefits through remote learning, including new skills, more freedom, learning at their own pace, family time, and problem solving. However, cons include increased home responsibility, isolation, and technical issues. For most, the pros outweigh the cons. At a minimum, it is wise to consult with tech groups who facilitate remote learning to determine what’s best for you or your institution.