Last March, all around the world, more than 1.5 billion children, along with their parents and teachers, had to suddenly adopt distance learning.
In the UAE alone, almost 1.2 million children and over 72,000 teachers shifted from traditional schooling to e-learning platforms overnight.
The urgency of the move naturally fueled concerns around digital homeschooling and its presumed negative impact on students’ academic performance. However, most of these concerns are not grounded in facts.
We look at five common misconceptions about distance learning and the ways in which a platform like HP’s BeOnline, launched in March 2020 in partnership with learning management systems provider Classera and learning innovations group Mirai, addresses them.
1. E-learners don’t perform as well as traditional students
Although switching to distance learning and homeschooling requires a bit of adaptation, most peer-reviewed studies indicate that homeschoolers generally outperform schooled students academically. They also benefit from strengthened family bonds.
Today, the advent of online learning programs such as HP’s BeOnline, that offers an assortment of options and learning pathways, gives access to high-quality education outside of brick-and-mortar schools. The platform’s learning systems are curated by Classera and Mirai – specialized in learning management solution and modern pedagogical ecosystems, respectively – and include a full range of pedagogical support functions, such as digital lesson plans, virtual assignments, e-attendance and e-assessment.
2. A tight schedule is what’s most important
While it is true that, in general, children thrive on routines – particularly in times of uncertainty – distance learning offers students the flexibility to spend more time on areas where they both need and want to focus; to take breaks more easily and more often, which helps them concentrate better; and to get up later in the morning – which teens, who notoriously don’t get enough sleep, need.
HP’s BeOnline program, for example, includes HP LIFE, a set of 32 modules on business and technical skills for youngsters that allows students to self-pace the courses and even receive certificates on completion.
3. Video teaching is the best option
Video teaching is beneficial in many ways, engaging children and allowing them to interact with the teacher and with other kids instead of passively digesting content. However, blended or hybrid models that combine real-time video teaching, self-paced studies, group discussions and breaks, give better results, according to Justin Reich, online learning researcher at MIT.
This is why HP’s BeOnline program allows for different approaches and rhythms via the deployment of online collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams. On these virtual hubs, students and teachers can easily view, use and share information while benefiting from video conferencing and messaging services.
Moreover, under the guidance of Mirai, schools are empowered to implement a fully-integrated online learning program involving all the various facets of education. This versatility meets the real-life needs of students in terms of diversity of formats, content and interactions.
4. All e-learning technologies are the same
Parents and schools desperate to keep children engaged may consider a bevy of resources in the hope that throwing tools at the problem will fix it. Indeed, the number of free online learning solutions has been exploding – just like it did a decade ago with the craze around MOOCs (massive open online courses) before studies showed these initiatives often underachieved.
What the experience of MOOCs taught the educational community, however, is that tools and content, whether in the form of textbooks, online tutoring programs or webinars, are not enough. Learning involves much more than absorbing neutral information; it requires dedicated, professional interactions designed to lead to educational engagements.
By involving a partner like Classera, with in-depth experience in developing modern, integrated and inspirational learning ecosystems and solutions, BeOnline ensured that this crucial human aspect of education remains at the core of the experience it offers to both students and educators.
5. E-learning can only be useful for a certain type of people
A legitimate concern for some parents may be the inadequacy of distance learning for children requiring special pedagogical accommodations – be it due to age, disabilities or learning difficulties. Some children do require a form of one-to-one support that parents cannot realistically provide. Similarly, some children are comfortable fully embracing distance learning while others are not; and some teachers can easily translate traditional schooling into virtual schooling while others are not tech-savvy enough.
A platform like BeOnline, in line with HP’s commitment to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people globally by 2025, was designed to meet the needs of different kinds of students and educators. It activates Mirai’s extensive experience in helping education professionals address technological disruptions and create modern pedagogical ecosystems.
This article is brought to you by HP: visit https://enable.hp.com/BeOnline to learn more about HP’s BeOnline initiative.