2020 took us by surprise. The global health crisis that began at the start of the year following the outbreak of coronavirus had shaken the world and changed everything practically overnight. Many individuals were left jobless, many businesses closed down, and the schools were shut down in order to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
However, students had to continue their education online, in a much different environment than the one they’re used to. While the alternative approach to teaching has proven as beneficial for students in some aspects, there were drawbacks to this learning approach as well. In this article, we’re taking a look at the relationship between remote learning and students’ mental health and listing both upsides and downsides of the shift to online education.
Lack of social interactions and in-person connections
Even though the teachers are doing their best to create an engaging and interactive learning environment, for many students, the lack of social interactions is what makes remote learning so difficult to cope with. This is especially true in cases where a student is used to learning in a group, and this absence of in-person connections could result in them underperforming at school. Not being able to see their peers also translates to feelings of anxiety and nervousness, causing many students to worry in addition to facing struggles academically. The situation is even more challenging if the student already had troubles learning in-person, as they’re likely to struggle even more learning remotely.
Absence of a proper learning environment can make e-learning challenging
Not being physically at school makes it difficult for students to get a grasp on new materials that are being taught. Some students report they’re not feeling motivated enough, some feel their tasks are overwhelming, while others consider their high school experience ruined. Others feel that remote learning is discouraging and that trying to keep up with the assignments can be very stressful, with many of them experiencing mental exhaustion. On top of all that, some students don’t even have access to smart devices or a stable Internet connection, which makes remote learning impossible for them.
No routine to follow translates to reduced motivation to learn
Not having a schedule and a routine to stick to makes remote learning especially hard for students. Routines are essential to students as they allow them to tackle everyday tasks they’ve been assigned more easily. When there’s no clear routine to follow, students are generally less motivated to learn. One way to go about it is to try to stay organized as much as possible, as this will allow students to manage online classes with more ease while also helping boost their motivation.
Online classes offer a safe and less stressful environment to learn in
Online education can be challenging, but that’s not to say that there are no upsides to shift to remote learning. For starters, online classes can prove to be much safer environments for students to learn in. Distance learning offers disabled students or those who are immunocompromised an equal chance to learn and thrive without compromising their health. The likelihood of bullying is also decreased, and although cyberbullying can still take place, learning in an online environment means the students are seeing your mind first. What’s more, some students have reported reduced levels of stress when learning remotely while also emphasizing the extra time they now have for their hobbies.
Adult learners may benefit from learning remotely
While the reactions of middle and high schoolers are somewhat mixed, remote learning has proven to be very beneficial for adult learners. Online courses are very flexible, which means a working adult can study around their work schedule. Whether you’re a working adult studying for a PALS certification exam or any other test, the flexibility that comes with online learning offers an opportunity to study at a pace that’s in line with your lifestyle. This offers adult learners a chance to learn new, valuable skills and acquire certifications while also taking a lot of the stress out of the equation.
Remote learning teaches important skills such as time management
There’s no doubt that time management is key for success in academic, professional, and private life. Remote learning offers students a chance to learn how to manage their time productively and efficiently, something that is crucial when it comes to online schooling, otherwise they may end up feeling stressed out and like they’re falling behind. From handing in their assignments on time to creating a balance between school duties and free time, online learning forces students to rethink the ways they use their time and understand what’s the best way to learn to achieve their academic goals.
Remote learning has its upsides and downsides, but there’s no doubt that it had a tremendous impact on education as we know it. As we slowly adapt to new normal, we will continue to experiment with digital learning to see how it compares to traditional learning practices and make future decisions that will ensure an effective learning experience.