Is the E-classroom here to stay?

Is the E-classroom here to stay?

Our world has inexplicably changed beyond all of our expectations. Between international riots, economic catastrophe and a global pandemic, simply keeping oneself afloat has become a far more difficult task than it has ever been before. However, despite all the trials we have been through during the nationwide lockdown, businesses, communities, individuals, and organisations adapted to survive. All of our once steadfast systems and processes have been altered, some beyond recognition, and our education system is no different, but which of these changes are here to stay?

21st-century education in itself has vastly differed from the subject matter of previous decades. With the rapid advance of technology in everyday life, employers are increasingly looking for an entirely different skill set to that still taught in the majority of our schools. Our heavy reliance on physical learning materials and apparent opposition to the use of technology in the classroom seemed to be here for better or worse until the advent of Covid-19. The rocky and unstable transition to virtual learning showed how lacking our resources and syllabi are in the skill set that is becoming the most sought-after aspect in the workplace.

However, despite the shaky start, digital and virtual interaction in South Africa quickly took off, with Zoom lessons, Google drive documents and email chains filled with assignments becoming the norm. The resistance to incorporating technology in the classroom has been flipped on its head in a matter of weeks. Now with the emergence of lockdown level 1, students, parents and teachers across the country wonder what this may mean for their everyday lives. Regardless of what changes our education system undergoes, the footprint that digital learning created during 2020 will never be forgotten.

Whilst some universities and high schools are still entirely against full digital incorporation citing that older students are more likely to find ‘loopholes’ or ‘backdoors’ through which to cheat their tests, exams and general learning, studies have shown that younger students benefit significantly from technology-based learning. Methods such as gamification have proven to be incredibly useful in not just maintaining their learning milestones but also improving their attention span, motivation and dedication towards their own education.

The virtual learning space won’t disappear entirely when, or if, we return permanently to the classroom as the impact digital learning has made created a lasting effect on students and teachers. One of the most surprising outcomes of virtual learning is the vast amount of working individuals who chose to become students once again. Once full-time employees were given those weeks at home, many turned to online universities and free learning resources to upskill themselves. Whether it was a CFO learning the basics of social media marketing or a recent graduate learning interview tactics, many appear to have made some good use of out of that extra free time.

Some argue that the digital migration of education is the exact type of boost that the South African economy needs right now; pushing our workforce into a digital arena that is so desperately in demand. So, whether it’s in a grade one classroom or an after-work hours certificate, when it comes to the future of education virtual learning, in some form or another, is here to stay.