What is wrong with online learning and why is it okay for not being okay about it?
I know I have repeated this many times, but we have to accept the fact that the shift to 100% online learning was made at a very short notice although it is nothing “new” in terms of tools and implementation. Schools and insitutitons of learning have been introduced to the same tools for quite some time, in some sense they are just repackaged in a different form (fancier to appeal to pandemic panickers I guess). Plus, we have been talking about 21st-century learning pedagogies and future-ready curriculum for some years now. In fact, what is “new” is the change of online learning being merely supplementary to a total replacement of face-to-face learning, in most circumstances where many schools and institutions are truly unprepared. After all, they were established as instutitons where physical spaces were designed specifically for face-to-face teaching and their curricula are crafted to emphasise on authentic hands-on learning experience.
This is the real shift that many academics are uncomfortable with because for academics, it means they need to relook at their course structure and realign (or even overhaul) as much as they can to fit the needs of not only their own skillsets but also the situations of the students. For students, they are also struggling to ensure they can get the best out of the online learning experience. It is a tougher challenge for them since they are more often that not, not the decision maker at home. Even picking the right spot to study at home requires a lot of negotiations with their parents and other siblings, let alone to ask for more money in order to get more data or increase their network speed.
For academics, the part about converting learning content to the online mode is perhaps only one small problem that many of them are facing. What bothers them the most now is the “mental block” of how to “transform their teaching and learning delivery” (true transformation now), when suddenly they have to deal with a class of students with different levels of Internet accessibility apart from the exisiting diversity issues that are already there even before the pandemic struck. They are also showered with guidelines after guidelines of what should and should not be done, which add to the cognitive load and the feeling of “oh why bother”. Besides, who has the time to think about planning when the house is on fire? It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable to even sleep with this.
But let me tell you this, it’s OKAY for not being okay about this shift.
I have seen some colleagues venting their anger on a daily basis just to prove a point about how impossible it is to do online learning when many of their students are not responding. Or some who are getting really upset that they have to do so many changes to their course plan. Yes, we know it’s challenging since day one. We know it’s never going to be as smooth as having a “plug-and-play” online course.
So, take a deep breath and let’s take it easy but act as swiftly as we can. There are many people who are here to help. The growing size of global educator community is also very pleasing to see now. Everyone is trying to help everyone. All you have to do is to acknowledge that you need help and reach out. I know some are feeling ashamed for admitting this due to whatever reasons they have, but it is better to deal with the problem than transmitting it through negative means. And for those who are okay with the shift, lend a hand too.
We are all in this together, it’s not a battle or war or competition, it’s a “rescue plan” that we should all contribute in whatever means we can.
After all, what matters now is we do our best to ensure learning can continue (for as much as it can) before we resume the face-to-face mode.
This too shall pass but until that day comes, let’s all work together, okay?