Ethnography of Digital by Digital

Partner: Xwhy / Agency of Understanding

In recent years, education has seen a shift from physical spaces to online learning, or e-learning. While this new type of learning comes with its own set of benefits, there are also some disadvantages. On the one hand, e-learning is more flexible than traditional learning because it can be done from anywhere in the world and at any time of the day. This is ideal for students who have busy schedules or who live in rural areas where schools are not easily accessible. Additionally, e-learning can be tailored specifically to each individual student’s needs and interests through things like adaptive course content and personalized feedback loops. On the other hand, there are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to e-learning. One such drawback is that students may feel isolated and disconnected from their peers when they are not physically present in a classroom together. Additionally, without face-to-face interaction, it can be difficult for instructors to gauge how well their students understand the teaching material. Asynchronous communication (communication that does not happen in real time) can also make it challenging for instructors and students alike to get timely feedback on questions or concerns.

Nonetheless, e-learning was quite positively met by the academic community until the time when most of the world had to turn to distance learning due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. During the crisis, many academic institutions, students and teachers went through a turbulent experience switching fully to online education. It became clear that not everyone was ready to convey teaching in new settings for various reasons, be it technical infrastructure, technical competencies, peculiarity of the teaching subject, etc. At the same time this switch caused a strong impact on the academic community itself leaving people feeling socially isolated, losing motivation, lacking time management and communication skills, etc.
Students admit doing parallel activities while attending courses, both teachers and students note lack of suitable adapted educational materials and inability to make interpersonal contact. Some students also did not avoid internet connection problems and found online lessons to be lifeless and not so interesting on the other side of the screen, which might have happened due to the lack of teachers’ online teaching skills. Students also expressed a sense of irrelevance which could be linked to the lack of interaction during online learning. As already mentioned before, this mirrored some teachers’ inability to manage introducing both quality and interactive content.

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