Just recently, it has been quite all over the news that prolonged closure of schools in the Philippines could lead to productivity loss for the next 40 years amounting to 11Trillion Pesos. This is because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The disruption in educational activities which began last March 2020 already reduced students’ future earnings and wages. Whilst the government tried to embrace online and traditional courses, we can’t deny that it wasn’t and still is not enough. Let’s compare the factors on this face-to-face vs. online learning effectivity.
Although sounding like a broken record already, the covid-29 undeniably changed our lives. We read almost every day, over and over again on how this pandemic affected us in our daily lives. Going on for almost 2 years now, we still can’t seem to get to embrace the new normal brought by it, especially in the Philippines – a 3rd world country.
One of the things brought about by the covid-19 pandemic that caused major changes is the limitation of gathering and physical contact. This is due to the way the virus is being transmitted. Thus resulting in worldwide implementation of isolation and social distancing – fewer social gatherings and absence of physical contact. This brought changes in public transportations and almost all setups that we have. Such as office work and classroom setting resulting in the closure of malls, companies, and schools.
Some sectors in the Philippines were fast to act, such as private sectors especially the big corporations. Yes, affected, but also already seen recovering. However, some are having difficulty striving and might not be doing so well at this time. Such as the education sector.
Although we’ve tried divert from face to face courses and cope up with the online learning environment, the lack of preparation from the government resulted in disastrous results. Everything was rushed and unsure. Our community quarantine guidelines were constantly changing bringing uncertainties and making long-term plans void. Education was stopped for a while and then resumed with the instruction of using computers or other devices suitable for online learning. However, it’s not that easy. Most families, especially students from public schools only live day to day which meant they have little to no savings to allot on these kinds of implementation. Aside from that, the lack of financial support was also a problem that affect student performance. This is why most parents and students decided to skip the first school year.
For those who continued to attend their online courses, the disappointment and longing for traditional classroom and face-to-face classes were evident. Memes online about how they miss face-to-face classes and how they are so much better stormed the internet. They were mostly funny but relatable. But how does this face-to-face vs online learning really affect students and why this will bring losses in the future?
These are some of the important factors affecting our current educational system on face to face vs online learning.
1. Engagement & Activity
Pre-covid school moments were always done face to face. Sitting in a class full of students and with a teacher walking back and forth as they discuss the lesson. However, with the restrictions on social gatherings and physical interactions that brought students online learning, these are no longer the case.
Current student set up for their online course is mostly done through a computer or mobile devices, at their home or anywhere, really. Instead of what used to be a classroom full of noise and fun, it is now converted to a screen full of blurred faces of online students, sometimes – only names, even.
With that, student engagement with the teacher during discussion apparently decreased. This is because first, not all students have that environment suitable for online instruction. Face-to-Face vs Online learning, Classrooms were made for a reason – induce a productive environment for its students. But with the online classes held now, we’re not sure if the student is in the right environment to study or listen to their teacher’s lessons. They could be surrounded by outdoor or indoor noise making them lose focus. Or, they could also be too comfortable in their homes that they fall asleep instead. Thus the loss in engagement.
Those were some of the few possible cases of what could have been happening when attending an online class. But since there is an option for off-camera, we’re not even sure if they’re at home trying to listen or get connected. Some stories on the internet sites students going viral because of going to work while listening to an online class, and some, getting their hair done.
Teachers and instructors can be pretty much helpless when it comes to this issue because they can’t see what the students are up to, and at the same time, can’t blame them if their house is noisy or distracting. Unlike when classes were still face-to-face, teachers can easily get the attention of students and hold them responsible if not paying attention vs. on online class where they mostly can’t do anything about it.
The effect of lack of engagement and activity based on some stories sometimes sound funny, but at the same time, sad. Because this is resulting to a long term lack of knowledge and proper learning. With the lack of preparedness, Philippine online schooling compare to face to face learning has become more difficult for the mass.
2. Presence & Connectivity
Along with the factor mentioned above, student’s presence was also highly affected. Aside from the fact that enrollees decreased at this time, the mentioned lack of engagement often results in student’s absence during class. We can’t entirely blame them, yes, but this can greatly impact their performance, academically and in real life.
Just as how we used to miss our classes when we were still face-to-face, falling asleep during your online learning class and learning at our own pace results in the need to catch up. Before, we just go back to school and ask our classmates, but now, we can only do that through online messaging. And we’re not even sure if they also listened or fell asleep during class.
The thing about missing an online class vs. to what used to be face-to-face learning is the way of needing to catch up. Failure to be able to find out to know the teachers discussed one topic or lesson often results in them searching the internet for answers and some, even cheating during online exams instead.
Aside from that, student and teacher’s connectivity is not always guaranteed. Some classes were forced to be cancelled because of the teacher’s poor internet connection or some students need to take an absence because of the lack of it. The adjustment made from face-to-face classes to online learning was not only the presence of gadgets or suitable devices, but also the need for constant, clear, and costly internet connection.
If going to class before you only needed fare and lunch money, now you always need to make sure that you have enough internet load or data to be connected for the whole day which definitely cost much more. Since we cannot always guarantee that we can pay for an internet service, or that the internet connection is strong enough to hold on for the whole day during an online class, this results in students often getting disconnected or having intermittent receiving and sending of data from the class.
There are probably more factors that changed due to face-to-face vs online learning transition, but those mentioned were definitely the major ones. They are important because what students are facing now is mainly because of those and somehow resulted to the following.
1. Costly learning
For the majority of Filipino people who are earning minimum wage and struggling day to day, maintaining a gadget for learning is costly enough; not to mention always making sure to have internet connectivity. Comparing to when the classes were still face-to-face vs. now in online learning, in public schools, almost all that you need is provided or donated. While in most private schools, parents still pay the same despite the non-usage of school facilities.
2. Lack of proper knowledge
Lack of presence in an online learning session vs. face-to-face class is definitely different due to the level of engagement that students get to enjoy with their classmates before. The knowledge lost is not only academically, but also the knowledge of experience when it comes to communicating and working with other people. It is as important as knowing how to read books. However, this current situation pushes students to be isolated in the corners of their own home learning and trying to understand everything on their own.
Not to mention those grade school students whose modules are answered by their parents or relatives instead of them trying to actually learn it. Since the online class started, modules were created where the students get to take home a piece of paper for them to read and learn on their own. However, for younger ones, it’s not always the same. Some of the kids were sent to school by their parents to learn better. Why? Because most Filipinos were undergraduates or too busy trying to make a living to try to understand some modules. But since the methods of learning have now changed, the challenge that’s supposed to be for the students is now forwarded to the parents.
However, only some tries to make an effort to teach their kids. We already know how Filipino moms’ tempers are when it comes to kids. So what happened is that instead of teaching the kids, they try to answer the modules on their own instead.
Not only that, these modules are printed in black and white making colors undistinguishable for grade school students. And some were found to be erroneous and brought confusion instead of learning.
3. Student depression
Cost is just one thing, and pressure was another factor that resulted to high rates in student depression. Because of these modules, reported depression in students during the pandemic allegedly increased. Whether they admit it or not, some schools or learning institutions expect students to perform more since they think that being at home is a lot easier than what it was before. This resulted in bombarding students with heavy assignments and impossible to meet deadlines. Some are lucky that they have other people to help. But some, shoulders all the burden on their own and result in heavy self-pressure and leads to depression.
With the expectation and unexpected changes, even adults are having a hard time adjusting. What more when it comes to the younger ones who only spend their time at school, and now that everything has changed coping up has become more difficult than ever.
Aside from that, school modules are not their only concern. Many people are dying and there are kids losing their parents over the coronavirus at an early age or unexpected time creating anxiousness and stress. Or they could also be dealing with financial losses brought by the unemployment of a breadwinner due to mass lay-offs. Or they could just be vulnerable in other ways that we may not know about.
Bottom line Face-to-Face vs. Online Learning
There seems to be an indefinite amount of challenges coming from this pandemic. However, we still hope that one day, we all go back to how it used to be. Trying to take a peek at the end of the tunnel to see if there is a light soon, but we just get disappointed every time because the mutations of the coronavirus is always changing and the effects of online learning transition from face-to-face in this generation can be permanent.
The only thing we can do now is learn, adapt, and apply the knowledge that we gather in this duration. Easy to say, hard to do but it’s the only choice that we have. We should find our ways of coping up with the pandemic because whether we like it or not, this could be staying for a long time.
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