In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, people had no idea how their lives would change over the next two years. Initially, people were skeptical about the idea of the world coming to a standstill. But as time went on, this was a reality they had to slowly accept. Such was the state of affairs in the series of pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Part of this skepticism stemmed from disbelief over the long-term impact of the virus. Many people thought that the virus would go away within a matter of months. Many conspiracy theories arose, and some even began to deny the existence of the virus altogether. This disbelief manifested strongly amid the uncertainty that lingered on for months at end. However, as acceptance gradually increased, a new consciousness emerged, and people began to find ways to make things work out in the long term. Online education was one approach that universities and schools adopted to keep things going. While the infrastructure for this was already present in one form or the other, it was the first time they were going with full-scale implementation of this model.
Similarly, businesses too adopted many remote strategies. Those that worked closely with the education sector had no option but to work towards the success of this model. This was crucial for them as the co-dependency between the two mandated that each work for the other. This mutual relationship ensured the survival and led to growth in some cases.
You may ask, “how does international business hold during COVID-19?” The answer to that can never be black or white, but various patterns show the correlation between stability and innovation. As mentioned above, those who adopted innovative solutions while working with the education sector were ultimately found to be more stable than those who relied on clients for survival. If you are having a hard time understanding this bilateral relationship, read on. Following is a list of ways the pandemic affected the educational sector and the methods adopted by schools and colleges to address emerging challenges.
- Online Classes
While the vaccine was still in development, it was nearly impossible to hold in-person classes on campuses. While many people spoke about the possibility of populations developing herd immunity, things were rarely that simple. Therefore, nobody wanted to take the risk of physical classes at a time when the virus’ behavior was not clear. Moreover, the fear of educational institutions turning into virus hotspots alarmed the authorities as well, prompting them to place restrictions on them.
Within these circumstances, educational institutions that primarily operated as businesses had to find ways to cope. A lot depended on their approach as they had to pay their staff while ensuring that students continued to learn and grow. Therefore, there was a dire need for an innovative solution. So, considering that many remote learning tools were already available, the schools did not have to develop in-house applications to shift to online learning.
Through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, educational institutions started holding online classes. This was more effective in classes with fewer students as discussions could be casually held. However, this was extremely difficult to manage with younger students as they were not accustomed to the classroom discipline, especially when the space existed virtually. Therefore, the pandemic’s greatest effect on the education sector was the shift to online classes.
- Financial Disparity
The coronavirus pandemic directly contributed to financial problems. As many workplaces lost business and clients due to lockdowns and the slowing economy, unemployment went up. Considering that many people worked to pay their tuition fees, things got rough for many people in the middle of the pandemic. This, in turn, increased the divide between those who paid for their education themselves as compared to those whose parents or guardian took care of the expenses.
So, financial disparity became even more visible during the pandemic, especially when it came to education. Considering how difficult it had become to pay for everyday expenses, many students who could not afford education either quit or took a break. This made it difficult for many people to keep track of their educational goals because of how it went down the list of priorities.
Furthermore, those who continued despite financial constraints had to pick up additional work. Many people who resorted to online jobs besides other work were found to be more stressed when it came to their studies. Considering how stress can affect the quality of work, things were not as good for them as before. This was sadly the reality in most countries where the state does not bear educational expenses.
- Learning Difficulties
While financial problems continued to be a prominent factor in rising stress levels, another factor that was initially overlooked was the difficulties students faced in online learning. Students who were used to in-person classes could not learn the same way in online classes. This can partly be attributed to students’ problems in focusing on their computer screens as they had been tuned to a physical environment.
Another related problem was the lack of infrastructural uniformity. Some students had better computers, microphones, and cameras and could manage their online classes better. On the other hand, those running obsolete devices found it difficult to study online. Similarly, internet connectivity also became a key hurdle in this regard and aggravated the problem for many of those who did not have access to high-speed internet.
The third main factor that made learning difficult was the way online classes curtailed students’ interactions with one another. While information primarily flows from the instructor to the students, students often find educational support in one another. If a person has difficulty grasping a concept, they often ask their peers for assistance. The pandemic made it difficult for students to hold these study sessions. Their only option was interacting with one another on the phone or through a video conference via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and that too came with additional problems.
There are both upsides and downsides to the changing trends in education due to the pandemic. These upsides and downsides depend on the circumstances, and any objective universal evaluation is impossible. Therefore, we laid down the essence of these changes in this article to help our readers come to a conclusion themselves.