Chapter 8: COVID and learning
Have you ever thought about how a virus could change the habits of the world, especially in education? The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic hit all over the world and has completely changed education. Some colleges refused to switch from the traditional teaching style to virtual classes. Many argue about this issue and how to deal with these new circumstances; some of them claim that the coronavirus is a good turning point that can open our eyes to a new style of learning. Others, however, prefer traditional, in-person learning. So, I am interested in learning how Covid-19 affects communications and our lifestyle specifically between the years 2020-2021 because our education system is impacted by this crisis and I am also interesting to find the results and the studies that people have done about this topic. I was surprised to see the number of studies discussing COVID-19 that have already been published.
The article “Online and Remote Learning in Higher Education Institutes: A Necessity in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic” by Wahab Ali discusses how higher education is being affected by COVID-19; specifically, the article describes the shift to online learning, difficulties students face, and the challenging teaching environments. Ali argues that virtual learning is more effective than traditional learning, he discuss the difficulties that faced the students, which caused a lot of challenges in the teaching environments , due to the rapid technological development beyond the crisis that led people to turn to technology in order to study and communicate with each other effectively (16). Also, some colleges give tools to the students in order to help them study effectively and give them the opportunity to study and communicate (16). He relates to Gee’s secondary discourse when he claims that in this period of time, all people, especially students, will easily adapt to online learning due to their big knowledge, skills and familiarity with technology, so he stats that the new technology affects our communications in our daily life style, and how our education under this pandemic allow us to learn a new ways to communicate (Ali 17). If, for example, students want to contact their teachers, they will have to learn how to send formal emails; but, the knowledge of sending emails and communicating online is already ingrained in them. However, some universities closed because they could not create a good environment for their students to learn. Ali encourages authorities and teachers to provide more information and to be prepared to improve the education system, strengthen their plans to provide more effective lectures, and give students the opportunity to understand their lectures (17). He refers to Gee’s article, “The Oral Mode is More Narrowly Useful,” because both mention that the development of technology has major impacts upon society and communication; Gee emphasizes in his article the importance of learning new methods and how to deal with technology. The oral mode refers to spoken language during face-to-face classes. Gee and Ali also have the same opinion about the importance of learning new technology. In addition, Ali motions in his article that some universities, such as New York University, were prepared for rapid change and met all their students’ needs for online classes by giving them tools and technology (19); successful adaptations require prior plans and an awareness of all changing circumstances (19).
Moreover, an article by Deepika Nambiar, “The impact of online learning during COVID-19: students’ and teachers’ perspective” discusses the impacts of online learning on the communications between the students and their teachers. She argues that interactions between them depend on their perspective and experiences of online learning (1); she includes a study with a survey method to collect data from universities in Bangalore to determine educators’ and teachers’ prescriptives because education has a special place and plays a big role in India (1). She observed that rapidly switching the education system in India to be online has a very big impact on the students’ interactions and communications due to the lack of required methods and apps for virtual learning (7); students were adapting to take their lecture in-person even though some colleges give tools to the students. Even so, they cannot make every aspect of online education equal; for example, not all students have access to reliable internet, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage. This rapid switch affects their performances, grades, and attendance, lowering their ability to effectively participate during class time (7). Also, online learning reduces students’ understanding of lectures and prevents them from physically interacting in their labs or researching (7). Nambiar states in her article that “the results of the survey showed that 86.9% of the teachers reported that they preferred classroom teaching method more than online teaching mode” and “11.8% preferred online classes” (4). So, online learning prevents teachers from understanding their students’ understanding of the material which allows them to know the effectiveness of their materials and method they use. Also, it minimizes their ability to individually contact their students to evaluate their levels. Furthermore, teachers had difficulty adapting to an online format while still teaching effectively (Nambiar 2). Teachers also confirmed that online learning is an evidence of the evolution that allows them to teach from anywhere, but it has harmful effects on their interactions with students and prevents them from engaging with their students physically (7). It allows students to have more absences due to the lack of internet services or poverty. Lastly, teachers must spend many more hours preparing their lectures because online learning has a more formal form (7). Overall, this study shows how online learning affects students and faculty and discusses all negative aspects that the authorities should be aware of when they are making the rules for the education systems. In order to obtain a comfortable environment for the students to learn and support the teachers, authorities must create strong strategies to improve learning under this pandemic (10).
Furthermore, Settha Kuama in “Is Online Learning Suitable for All English Language Students?” begins by explaining how online learning affects students who are studying the English language. Kuama states that, despite all the advantages of online learning due to its flexible environment, English learners have faced many difficulties throughout online learning such as the “cognitive challenge,” which includes understanding apps’ dynamic functions in order to succeed (65). Students also have trouble organizing their time to ensure they never miss their due dates and watch their lectures, which don’t include any attendance grades. In addition, according to Aydin (2011), students may have “computer and Internet anxiety,” anxiety caused by a poor internet connection or slow computer, which also prevents them from having a comfortable space to study. Also, students are used to asking instructors questions and studying with their peers, and online learning prevents them from having these opportunities (Kuama 65). This article divides students into two groups: the students who succeed and those who struggle Kuama states in this article that successful students have a high level of self-regulation, know how to study effectively, and are aware of their responsibilities. They check their homework daily and use the internet to learn new studying strategies in order to study effectively. On the other hand, the students that do not succeed in their studies do not learn any strategies to help them during their studies (69). But overall, both kinds of students agree that face-to-face learning is an opportunity to interact with each other, especially because the English language depends on conversations between students and their instructors and group work. Additionally, students will get more motivation from their peers (73). Moreover, Kuama discusses through the article that, in order to give all the students a quality online education, they have to have the opportunities to learn about the online programs and apps (74). Also, students who have a low efficiency in English have to improve their English skills in order to communicate and participate with others (74).
James Gee’s article “What is Literacy” attempts to describe literacy by describing discourse, the effective way of using words to communicate with each other and write our own thoughts (23). Gee defines literacy as being able to use a set of words for multiple purposes and in numerous settings (23). Where these settings are defined as discourses, and they are categorized into primary and secondary discourses and even these types of conversation can be broken down. For example, a primary discourse is that way of speaking that you mostly acquire from your family and the people around you at birth. An example of some primary discourses includes being in a certain country, playing with a friend, or speaking with family members around us: these examples are described as languages a person acquires for free (22). Secondary discourses are uses of a language that people actively and primarily; it requires effort, practice, and experiences, and a person does not grow up speaking in the dialect. Examples can include the way we speak when working as a team in our workplace or if we want to engage in a new community with a new group we have to learn their language and their styles in order to deal with them.
Ali, Wahab. “Online and remote learning in higher education institutes: A necessity in light of COVID-19 pandemic.” Higher Education Studies 10.3 (2020): 16-25.
Gee, James Paul. “What is Literacy?” Negotiating academic literacies: Teaching and learning across languages and cultures (1998): 51-59.
Kuama, Settha. “Is Online Learning Suitable for All English Language Students?. “ PASAA: Journal of Language Teaching and Learning in Thailand 52 (2016): 53-82. Nambiar, Deepika. “The impact of online learning during COVID-19: students’ and teachers’ perspective.” The International Journal of Indian Psychology 8.2 (2020): 783-793.