Keeping Students Engaged and Safe during the Corona Pandemic
What is the most important thing colleges can do to keep students safe and engaged during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
You can focus on enacting a specific policy, providing a service, or any other thing you find important. You will need to provide support from your own ideas and experiences as well as two sources (articles we used in class or articles from the library) and a response to possible naysayers and objections. Do not create a list of things colleges can do. Focus on one specific thing and develop your argument.
The pandemic has significantly impeded and overwhelmed the functioning of educational systems. The impacts vary based on geographical locations, family backgrounds, and access to educational facilities. In early spring, the pandemic forced over 70 million American students including college learners, to stay at home. Therefore, the students were deprived off daily access to the school environment, basic learning amenities, and interaction through group activities. Moreover, academic shut downs, compounded by public health and economic crises has adversely impacted the learning process. Therefore, it is fundamental to establish infrastructure that facilitates effective learning and guarantees student safety. Colleges should consider implementing online learning that allow students to engage in classroom activities remotely while minimizing their exposure to the illness.
There have been discussions on how to effectively modify the conventional in-person classes through technological advancements. The pandemic has resulted in a sudden shift to a different educational paradigm. The consequence, universities are constrained to conducting the learning processes online. The pandemic has tested the preparedness of colleges in dealing with crisis. An alternative would require the utilization of online learning to facilitate effective teaching processes. This provides convenient and productive methods to attain learning objectives.
Accessibility and Flexibility
The transition to remote learning will allow more flexible outreach to learners regardless of their geographical locations. This is, especially crucial since majority of learning institutions comprises of individuals who either reside in different states or are foreigners. Therefore, it saves on time and money since it eradicates the need for travel and the uploaded content is easily updated and consistent. This, in turn, facilitates engagement and collaboration since students get to learn at individual paces and preferred locations. This ensures social distancing and quarantining when necessary; thus guaranteeing safety for learners. Moreover, it promotes accessibility in terms of interacting with their peers allowing them to actively discuss and exchange various points of view.
Online learning is an affordable alternative since the required infrastructure are easily understandable, accessible, and affordable. Remote learning also allows educators can effectively monitor the students through various software resources such as webcam, Google Meet, Zoom etc. Conducted surveys reveal that lecturers have the authority to un-mute their videos and microphones to access the students’ attention and engagement capacity. Moreover, it eased basic administrative tasks i.e. marking attendance and recording of lecturers.
Online classes encourage participation and educators obtain feedback from learners in numerous ways such as zoom meetings, virtual desks, webcam etc. This method improves interactions between the teachers and students through the provision of synchronous and asynchronous tools i.e. videoconferences, e-mails, discussion forums, and chats. Students from other colleges can be noted stating that online learning permits access to previously recorded and uploaded lectures. Moreover, it encourages engagement since learners have control over the content, time spent learning. Therefore, the process can be tailored to meet the students’ needs and objectives. This, in turn, promotes better communication with the learners. E-learning tends to be student-centered as compared to traditional teaching methods that are more teacher-centered. Online learning systems are internet-based software used for distributing, managing, and tracking academic courses. Technology is utilized to deliver content and provide two-way communication between the students and educators.
Addressing Opposing Views
Higher learning institutions comprises of individuals from varying socio-economic backgrounds and geographical regions. Students, from impoverished settings, are on scholarships and thus experience financial constraints. Therefore, the challenge involves the unavailability of technological resources i.e. electricity connection, adequate bandwidth and lack of appropriate devices. These issues diminish the virtual classroom experience resulting in reduced attention spans and overall lack of engagement. Another disadvantage is the lack of experience in utilizing e-learning platforms, especially among educators. Statistics reveal that 66.9% of lecturers admit to using online platforms for educational purposes for the first time. Therefore, learners can experience delayed feedback or assistance when in need due to the unavailability of educators. This results in feelings of isolation, and thus decreased motivation among students. Lastly, maintaining academic integrity will be extremely difficult due to lack of discipline and plagiarism. This is an issue specifically cited by lecturers whereby certain students misbehave during lectures; doze off, false fully claim network difficulties or fail to pay attention. Additionally, there are no structures in place to mitigate plagiarism with some students copy pasting information from the internet.
Consequently, the pandemic has affected colleges in terms of international mobility and educational delivery. Adopting and optimizing the e-learning process is a more effective alternative to promote engagement and keep learners safe. Current research supports the utilization of online learning since it encourages student-centered learning and educator management while in lockdown.
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