EDITORIAL: Online learning remains a critical component of post-pandemic education
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought many new challenges, and we have all had to adapt to new ways of existing in the world. We masked up, took social distance walks, stayed in touch with friends and family via social media and video chat. These were the realities of the pandemic, for everyone.
For students, however, this reality also included school. We were used to in-person classes with an instructor teaching, with classmates right next to us if we didn’t understand something, and with friends always nearby who we could complain to. or homework stress.
The pandemic interrupted all of that – these are pivotal times and experiences that we will never return to. In its place, we were exposed to virtual classes. Synchronous and asynchronous learning have become common vocabulary when discussing academics. These concepts are what got us through the pandemic and allowed us to graduate.
Now that we’ve returned to mostly in-person learning, it’s become clear that online learning isn’t as terrible as we originally thought. Its flexibility allowed students to pursue their interests, focus on internships, and manage jobs.
Certainly an in-person learning environment is conducive to a range of other experiences we think about when we decide to go to college, but there is something about the virtual landscape that should be taken seriously in future discussions on technology and the digital age. in pedagogy occur.
For students who commute, for example, it will be easier to have a range of options: maybe they can manage to come to campus only twice a week instead of four times a week. . For students who might be immunocompromised or with other disabilities, they will be made safer without compromising their education. For busy students, whether doing an internship or working, virtual learning gives them the flexibility to create a schedule at their own pace.
Rutgers agrees — and the University is exploring how to strengthen and make virtual education options more permanent. In a recent announcement, the University has released a tip on online education. The council is responsible for providing the University with ways to improve the online learning infrastructure as a whole.
This is smart, forward-thinking advice. Students benefit from an extension options. By Rutgers reinventing a blended format where the focus is still on in-person learning, but with strong virtual options, they respond to broader cultural trends and respond more carefully to student needs.
One of the most important elements of education is that it should be accessible to everyone. Sometimes in-person learning is not very accessible. There are a range of factors that help a student thrive academically or not, or if they can even learn in a certain environment. Online learning captures these disparities and attempts to address them.
By offering more virtual classes, especially more asynchronous classes, Rutgers enables his students to make the best decision for themselves. We think that’s a good thing — if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that young people are more than capable of knowing how to handle things and how to make their own way. Despite these benefits, steps must be taken to ensure that online platforms are both as protected and as accessible as possible.
For the first point, as society digitizes, the threat of piracy looms. As we have seen during the pandemic, Zoom rooms can be infiltrated. The University must take all necessary measures to ensure that the online sphere is just as protected as the in-person one.
Regarding this last point, the University should take more steps to ensure that online coursework is accessible to all Rutgers students. To do this, Rutgers must ensure that all students have access to Wi-Fi – whether working with local and state governments, everyone enrolled at Rutgers should have some type of internet access, regardless of or their socio-economic status. Rutgers is also expected to expand laptop rentals so students can continue their virtual learning more comfortably.
In addition, students must be proactive and express their needs both to the University and to their own professors. Likewise, although we have discussed student-related issues at length, the burdens and challenges placed on instructors cannot be ignored..
Any plans to move classes to an online format should also make life easier for instructors. Online courses, both synchronous and asynchronous, should have strict boundaries and instructors should be treated with the same respect as any other instructor.
As we emerge from the pandemic, many things are different. The way we interact, the way we think about health, the way we exist. As an obvious consequence, our education system has fundamentally changed. Rutgers is in a unique position to be a leader in this new educational era. We need to continue to prioritize which methods work best for students, and a mix of in-person and virtual school seems like a good place to start.
The Daily Targum editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th Editorial Board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Targum Publishing Company or its staff.