Online learning is now the byword in the academe because of the circumstances brought about by the pandemic, Covid-19. Is online learning, indeed, the answer to education during these times?
This concern is of great magnitude. The students’ development and growth in many areas that are determinants of their future is on the line. Hence, decisions must not be rash.
The answer has to be filtered by all stakeholders and from its contexts. The students are an important, if not the most important, stakeholder to consider. What do they have to say in this, being directly and tremendously affected by this form of instruction?
“No to online classes and requirements” seems to be the trending and blaring response of majority of the students in the social media.
Why do these students resist the opportunity to have a way to continue classroom instruction at these trying times?
The maestra instinct in me presumed some justifications borne of years of experience in the classroom for students’ resistance to learning during ordinary or normal times – intellectual complacency and academic indolence. They do not want to learn, or so I thought.
A voice calling for objectivity resounded in me. Why not hear the students out? I therefore conducted an informal survey among 198 university students, setting aside the statistical formulas, scholarly procedure, and APA format.
Out of 198, 62 responded. These are the simple findings:
1. Twenty-seven students appear to be privileged enough to have the capacity to do online learning but mostly only through Messenger, which can provide limited avenue for the teachers to send notes and activities in.
2. Many of the students cannot even participate in answering the survey because according to the respondents, others cannot have access to a simple platform like this.
3. Thirty-five students show their inability to participate in online learning/instruction, willing or not, for these reasons:
a. Geographical location impedes satisfactory Internet connection;
b. Financial constraints to even avail of mobile data, especially when food is a top priority at this time;
c. Preference for face-to-face teaching over online instruction determined by their learning style; and
d. Compliance to the prevailing enhanced community quarantine since they cannot go to their friends’ house or computer shops for wi-fi connection;
It is evident that some realities are beyond one’s control. However, one of their reasons related to their preferred learning style is less of a concern because this can be further developed.
Overall, the issues are primarily focused on technological, financial, and safety concerns. Issues on Internet connection in other places prevent many students from complying with online requirements because they can only access basic platforms, which make it difficult to receive and send files.
Another problem is unavailability of gadgets to use, like computers or smart phones, while they cannot go to computer shops. For some, even if they do have equipment, going out and spending for Wi-fi data may be impractical in this crisis when people are concerned about safety and trying to make both ends meet. Nevertheless, it is noted that different areas have varying levels of capacity for online instruction.
The conclusion is that should this pandemic persist, with all the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, online learning may be inevitable as the alternative mode of instruction/education. However, what may be perceived ideal may not necessarily be applicable in all contexts because learning environments have differences and limitations.
While academicians strive to adhere to the promotion of quality education and competence, it might not hurt too much to reconsider the measures given these circumstances. Let reasons and compassion prevail over the call of duty. Besides, still it is our duty to teach our students to set the balance between the mind and the heart to discern between important and priority. — May C. Castillo, Ph. D.