Can Online Education Be Equal to Classroom Teaching?

CAN ONLINE EDUCATION BE EQUAL TO CLASSROOM TEACHING?The rise in popularity of online education and the assumption that it can easily replace traditional education are new. But it seems impossible to transfer all educational practices online — from lectures and seminars to practical classes, laboratory, and design work. 

The sudden transition to online education during the quarantine period implies that we are reproducing everything offline: universities are trying to organize the same lectures and the same seminars on the same schedule. We can say that everything is getting better and we are fine, and the coronavirus (almost) does not interfere with the normal course of our life anymore. But you can not just recreate the old reality and say that the quarantine period proved equality of online education to classroom teaching. In this article, we will try to figure out aspects that raise the most concern regarding the transition from classroom teaching to online learning. This topic is open to discussion.

Synchronicity Aspect

Implementation of online education immediately opens the subject of synchronicity: is it really necessary for thirty people to gather at the screens simultaneously and listen to the same thing? Does synchronization of studies bring synergy, or is it a relic of the past? Or is it just a reflection of how we did it while in class, and now, to comfort ourselves, we want to continue doing it? We cannot answer this question with full certainty, but what we know for sure is that this question should be thoroughly researched and followed. 

This, of course, allows students to publicly ask questions and have discussions, but in most classes, this kind of interactive still takes a tiny fraction of the time – so why not post a presentation and a recording instead, which an advanced student will listen to over coffee at an acceleration of 1.5 times, and less advanced – with pauses, searching incomprehensible in Google and questions to the teacher in the chat?

Communication and Socialization Aspect

A future scientist or specialist should be immersed in a team of intensively working people to better understand the subject. In this regard, we find proposals to move all educational practices online extremely outrageous — especially if they come from people who do not understand anything about this, with minimal or no reproduction experience of successful scientists and engineers. Perhaps the transition to only one-way online education will destroy the education system or seriously worsen it - if only because it will reduce the number of opportunities for obtaining it. As we noted above, you can combine online education with regular education, but replace one with another. This statement may seem rather rough, but the background behind it is clear — you cannot take all the professional communication out of the educational equation and still receive the same quality result. Students tend to seek help online when they are studying alone, as they receive less assistance from peers and are less motivated by a group studying dynamic. Academic experts from SmartWritingService online custom writing service, for example, mention that they receive more professional writing help requests at the level previously covered by students on their own. It may be interpreted in two ways — students studying only online perceive information worse, or they are less motivated to work on papers when being outside the socially relevant group. 

Dangers of a Universal Approach to Online Education 

Education includes three related but very different dimensions. On the one hand, education is the acquisition of skills, the totality of which can be called a certain way of thinking. In this sense, graduates of the biology department differ from graduates of the philology department: they think differently, formulate problems and solve them. When a person comes to work in a field corresponding to his specialty, it is assumed that he is able to set tasks and solve them in a certain way. On the other hand, education is the acquisition of knowledge. In the course of training, a person learns what he did not know and forms his own picture of the world. The third meaning of education is socialization as integration into a certain environment, obtaining certain social markers, and building connections. Pupils and students receive education in all three senses. One dimension can prevail over another when choosing a university.

Conclusion on Equality of Online Education to Classroom Teaching

To understand whether it is possible to transfer education online, you need to figure out what dimension it is about. It is very difficult to master skills and methods online and without the help of a tutor: humanity has not yet invented a more effective way of teaching than transferring skills from master to student. Of course, you can learn to code, cross-stitch, or do push-ups correctly with the help of YouTube videos. But without a person who guides the student and helps him deal with mistakes, teaching is ineffective. You can learn to run using video tutorials, but having a trainer will save you from injuries that can be obtained if you master the technique incorrectly.

Online education will keep strengthening, which means that all these aspects should be addressed with the utmost attention. People tend to cling to past practices, which may not be exactly efficient in a new environment. It is obvious that many teachers and professors now try to teach online as they are still teaching offline. Ignoring new reality will not help anyone, as it is obvious that online and offline studying and teaching practices should differ. It is not the time to ask ourselves — what is better — online education or offline classroom teaching? It is time to ask — which practices should be developed in which field? Answering these questions requires research, experiments, studies, which, as you can imagine, require funding. It is hard to say now whether it will be done because to receive funding, the results should be beneficial to one of the parties. Still, we hope that the best practices for both online and offline education will be researched, formulated, and implemented. 

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