Students, educators should see online education as an opportunity

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Students at California Baptist University and school-aged children around the globe are going through a serious transition right now as public and private education systems simultaneously transition to an online-only teaching format in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are downsides to this situation, adapting to an online-only educational system provides a unique opportunity for students and teachers alike to hone their tech skills and find new ways to creatively complete previously in-person assignments.

Studies have shown that online education could become more mainstream in the future and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing millions of people to change the way that they learn or teach. This massive shift to online learning for students of all ages will leave the world in a new advanced age of technology and education.

Harvard Business Review compared the current situation to what happened with women during World War II: “When American men went off to war, women proved that they could do ‘men’s work’ — and do it well. Women never looked back after that.”

So, if we may never look back to a time where education and work was primarily conducted in person, perceptive students and educators will use this situation as an opportunity to get a leg up on less tech-savvy competition, enhance their knowledge of technology and think outside the box to get things done.

It can be easy to get caught up in the aspects of online classes that are not great. From passive discussion board conversations to increased loads of lectures, videos and large amounts of assigned reading, there is much to deal with that is not very exciting. However, this unprecedented situation has allowed for incredible growth in the technology industry, as educators and students seek new tools for online education.

Two weeks ago, I had no idea what “Zoom” even was. Any kind of remote interview in which I had participated was via Skype, yet now half of my classes and my workplace are using Zoom to communicate face-to-face. While this is obviously huge for Zoom and similar video-conferencing platforms, it just goes to show how technology has taken the front seat in the “Distance Learning” education we are experiencing. The opportunity is massive for innovation and growth in new technologies that solve problems during temporary self-isolation and online education.

This mandatory online education is also an opportunity to reflect on the things that we can control, such as our attitudes toward the current education situation. Studies by Mayo Clinic show just how much one’s attitude can impact his or her experience. Engaging in positive thinking comes with health benefits such as increased life span, lower rates of depression and distress, greater resistance to the common cold and better psychological and physical well being.

During this time in which there is so much outside of our control, we must remember that this situation presents us with a choice: Embrace online learning as an opportunity for growth, or passively finish out the semester with little gain.

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