In the last year, I have witnessed more than once a constant incrimination of online schooling and a total distrust in its efficiency, as if it were absolutely useless. Society, starting with the parents of the students, has already decided that online schooling is rubbish and that we would be better off without it. Although… losing the academic year is not a valid solution for the same parents, because they want to have it all. In my opinion, online schooling is, actually, a very valid solution for continuing the education of students during this pandemic period.
Blended learning, in which digital learning is combined with face-to-face learning, is considered by specialists to be the perfect solution for the education of the 21st century students. But we are going through this pandemic with online classes presented by teachers who had not been prepared for digital lessons and when the logistic is far from being appropriate.
Yes, the educational system was not at all prepared for digitalization. The teachers had not been trained for this (but most of them succeeded to do a great job in a very short amount of time), the students had not been used to working like this and, most of all, neither the teachers nor the students had computers and laptops and tablets to use for their online classes. Those were the main issues.
Despite the lack of training and resources, most of the teachers started training themselves, taking part in dozens of webinars and courses related to online teaching and buying themselves computers and flipcharts and web cameras or microphones to use in their online teaching.
Most of the students used their phones, because the technology was missing or maybe a family had only one computer and two or three children. Solutions have been found locally and socially and things started to evolve in a good direction. The serious students, the ones who had been paying attention to classes and the ones who were always interested in their own education, continued to be serious by attending the online classes and working on their assignments. The students that had been less interested in school, the one skipping classes and not doing their homework before the pandemic, these students started to find excuses for not attending the online classes and not doing their assignments. This is a conclusion to which arrived most of the teachers doing online classes.
The results obtained at the national exams in 2020 were not extremely bad nor extremely good, they were maybe a little bit below average, after just four months of online classes. Let us not forget that before the four months, education was normal. How relevant are the four months before an exam? Nevertheless, the students who continued to be serious about school, managed to study and to work constantly. I, as a teacher of English, must confess to have enjoyed much more the online classes than the face-to-face ones because at school I had not had the opportunity to present movies or musical clips to my students and to work on them or to do some online exercises, from different sites. But during the online classes, we all had more fun and more interesting materials than the textbooks and the blackboard that we had at school.
Therefore, I cannot agree with the people who say that online schooling is no schooling. This is nothing but a preconception, an idea echoed by parents and grandparents and, surprisingly, even by some teachers. I have to disagree with this idea because reality proves that the good students continued to have good results, while the less serious ones obtained less desirable results. So if online classes work perfectly for the good students, they should be sufficient for the rest of the students, too, I believe.
The psychological or social issues that the students might have to face due to social distancing are not directly related to the online classes. On the contraru, the online classes helped the students to continue to communicate and to relate, during the pandemic, to give them a sense of belonging and of normality. Most of the students did their socialising in the free time after the online classes, anyway, just like they would have done it before the pandemic. It is my belief that the social distancing and the isolation cannnot be blamed on the online schooling, since it was a legal requirement for everybody, not just for the students.
And, anyway, what is that we could do at school and we could not do online?
Presenting materials to the students, giving them explanations, chatting with them, checking homework and grading papers… what is that we were unable to do online? Nothing. Jamboard was the old blackboard, we could present anything to the students and they coukd present anything to us, we could deliver tests online with time limit, we could explain anything and communicate with our students.So why should someone say that online schooling is not school? And why do we accept this idea so easily? I personally disagree with it and I totally support the efficiency of online classes, as well as the idea of blended learning!