POPULARITY OF ONLINE INSTITUTES DURING COVID- 19 PANDEMIC
The sudden appearance of COVID-19 brought as a consequence very difficult times for all countries worldwide and education was no exception; therefore, all instances of educational management were forced to close their doors and suspend face-to-face academic activities as a preventive and health measure to prevent the spread of the pandemic. However, these provisions had a direct impact on the educational sector and especially on students. Data from UNESCO reveal that 1.6 billion students at different educational levels around the world were affected by the suspension of face-to-face academic work, a figure that represents 94% of the total student population globally.
Faced with this essential need, online education was implemented as a pertinent alternative for the continuity of the educational service, using and modifying its structure, generating new learning scenarios; likewise, making use of digitization as a powerful present and future strategy. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic represented the breaking point for the implementation of virtuality in the educational system, since being a fundamental pillar of our society, it had to adopt digital culture very quickly as fundamental part of its structure.
From one end of the planet to the other, many formulas have been tried to reach young learners at home. This has led to collaborations between educational institutions and the media. Some experts are therefore of the opinion that online learning could become part of regular education, after the pandemic. The sudden and rapid transition to this type of learning, without training or preparation, could sometimes be a disappointing experience. But a hybrid model of education, better planned, could emerge from this crisis. Those who have access to the right technology find benefits. Research claims that students memorize 25-60% more content when they learn online. This would be explained by a speed of this learning which would require 40 to 60% less time than in a class; and by the fact that everyone can learn at their own pace.
Adequate technology for online education
Online resources can, however, be a barrier to learning, as not all families have the same tools, the right connection, or the same level of knowledge to use these technologies – hence the importance of offering diversified solutions across multiple platforms. Students without adequate internet access will not benefit as much from this online education and will fall further behind. The gap between those with fast and slow home internet access equals the gap in digital skills between 8th and 11th graders.
Virtuality has revolutionized education in different aspects, both methodologically and pedagogically and even institutionally, because it has allowed the limits of distance and temporality to be broken down, being very effective in ensuring educational continuity in times of crisis; however, it highlights the existing digital divide.
Based on virtuality, the role of the teacher has been almost completely restructured, since the educator needs to develop more and more skills, making virtual teaching a demanding challenge. Digital skills must be added to pedagogical skills, and the focus of human skills must be changed, such as the practice of ethics, empathy, respect, and communication skills, so that they are adapted to a virtual environment. The only use of digital resources does not contribute but is provided with the purpose of the teacher in its objectives, content and methodology to work with their students.
For teachers to be able to connect effectively with their students through technology, it is crucial that they are trained in digital skills. This does not mean that all teachers must reach a very high level of digital mastery, since each one must advance at their own pace, it depends on different factors such as their attitude towards technology, their management of emotional intelligence and their level of previous knowledge. The challenge for the teacher is to develop the skills to learn, think and create in the new digital environments.