As the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global challenge, it has affected every aspect of life. Like many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed students’ lives. It has led to the closure of all the educational institutions all over the world. Getting an education has become more difficult for young people particularly ones living in rural areas or third world countries.

Pakistan was no exception in this regard, online learning was introduced in Pakistan to overcome the interruption of education. Almost all the institutions of Pakistan have started online learning even those where there was no concept of Distance Learning existed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online learning is learning through technology and the internet. For many institutions of Pakistan, online learning was a difficult choice due to the lack of skilled teachers to use technology. Another aspect was the poor quality of the internet in a large swathe of the country. Many students had to go open places in search of internet signals.  Notwithstanding all these issues, online learning also has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

  • One of the biggest advantages of online learning is the accessibility of time and place. Online learning allows students to log on where they are comfortable. Thus, students can have access to the study material whenever and wherever they want. In Pakistan, the transport was the main issue for students but due to e-learning, they can take classes from their home directly.
  • Online learning offers a study plan that is beyond traditional textbooks. Many online resources are also included to extend the lesson plan. Thus, students can gain knowledge from other resources too. All you need is a computer and all of the study material, assignments, and researches will be with you all the time.
  • As online classes can be taken from the location of students’ own choice, students’ attendance has improved a lot. Some fewer students miss their classes. Students take their online classes from the location they are most comfortable at.
  • In a class, there are a variety of students. Some students are visual learners, while others are audio learners. Some students are introverts and prefer to learn alone, and some students take part in discussions during the lecture. Online learning is bale to suit all types of students.
  • Online learning has provided students a chance to utilize their free time to adopt a hobby, to spend time with their families, ride a bicycle or learn another course.

Disadvantages

There are pros and cons to everything. Thus, some of the cons or disadvantages of online learning are

  • One of the biggest challenges of online learning is that some students can be easily distracted by social media. However, some students are not able to focus on the screen for a long period. Moreover, In fully online classes, misbehavior of students has been increasing rapidly. Therefore, the teacher must keep its class attentive and captivated so the class can be focused easily. For online learning, the student must be self-motivated.
  • Wifi-coverage and slowing down of internet speed have become a big issue with the rise in the number of online learners. An unstable internet connection can hinder a teacher’s lecture or a student’s class
  • Online learning has created a gap between students who have access to the internet, technologies, and digital devices at home, and those who do not. In Pakistan’s remote areas, the unavailability of internet connection and technology is making studying impossible for students.
  • Although online learning is beneficial in many other fields but due to it, students are unable to learn practical work. Science classes always demand practical work. Thus, not all fields can be learned online.
  • Online study has diminished social interaction. Many fields in Universities require social interactions. Despite all the advantages, some students still need traditional classrooms to learn. As social interaction for some can be stimulating for their learning experiences.

It is evident from the above comparison between the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, Pakistani students were unable to get any benefit from online learning experiments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now as the schools have been reopened, it is being assumed that students will be able to get full advantages of their classroom learning where they will be able to interact with their teachers and peers.

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Hamnah Rehman

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