How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your life? While many people have lost their jobs and a steady income, others have found solace in the company of their loved ones. However, the general consensus is that you’ve become more dependent on technology, especially the internet.

To say that the pandemic brought the world to a standstill and transformed life as we know it would be an understatement. One of the biggest impacts of the novel coronavirus has been on the education sector.

As students retreated into their dorm rooms and family homes due to travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, online learning became the norm. Educational institutions across the globe have been forced to lock their doors while engaging with students in the virtual world.

But is online learning just a trend that’ll fizzle out once the pandemic is over, and schools and colleges switch to classroom-based learning? Or are future generations going to experience more merits of e-learning? What about developing countries where high-speed internet connectivity is still a distant dream for many students?

In this story, we’ll delve deeper into the future of the education system and understand whether e-learning will continue to rule the roost in a post-pandemic era. Let’s get started.

The Remarkable Rise of Online Education

E-learning platforms aren’t a new concept in the education sector. Even before the pandemic, there had been an explosion of online courses and e-learning platforms that helped students polish various skills. Whether you wanted to master a new language or learn to play a musical instrument, you could find various online courses to fit your needs.

But in a pre-pandemic world, online learning tools and platforms were always perceived as an add-on to classroom-based lectures and practical sessions. That mindset quickly changed when the pandemic curbed public gatherings and movements.

Ever since schools, colleges, and universities shut down for the first time in March 2020, online education has become mainstream. It’s no longer an alternative to traditional learning; it is the norm. Students of all ages had to quickly adapt to attending classes on Zoom, from the comfort of their homes.

It isn’t surprising that the e-learning market was valued at $250 billion in 2020. It’s projected to grow at a CAGR of 21% and cross $1 trillion by 2027. So, it’s safe to say that e-learning has made irreversible changes to the existing education infrastructure.

But will its stellar growth continue once the pandemic is over?

Limitations of E-Learning

Much has been discussed about the benefits of using online learning tools. It helps students grasp new concepts at a comfortable pace. Also, they can revise lectures at their convenience. It’s shown to improve retention and engagement among students.

But there are certain drawbacks that could hinder its effectiveness and adoption. To begin with, a survey of more than 80,000 students revealed that 15% of college students feel their online lectures weren’t at par with traditional classroom-based lectures.

That’s understandable considering that most educators had to switch to online teaching aids without adequate training. They were left to figure out the technicalities of e-learning platforms by themselves. Thus, the transition to online learning hasn’t been seamless for all students.

Also, when you’re attending online lectures, you miss out on the collective experience of classroom-based learning. It could lead to a feeling of isolation, and even puts you at risk of becoming a passive learner. Worse still, you might be deprived of the opportunity to interact with like-minded students and develop an impressive personality.

Then there’s the issue of limited internet penetration in developing and underdeveloped nations. Unless internet connectivity becomes a staple for students in remote and rural areas, it’s difficult for e-learning to wipe out classroom-based sessions.

What’s in Store for Online Learning?

Of course, the world won’t switch back to traditional learning methods after the pandemic. But the future of online learning will depend on how easily students can reap its benefits. This, in turn, emphasizes the need for using cutting-edge technology to create an immersive learning experience that simulates a classroom setting.

Expect more AL/ML-based adaptive learning and augmented reality (AR) applications to encourage active participation from students. Also, there’ll be an increased emphasis on social learning, in the form of online forums, virtual study groups, and educational websites.

For instance, if you’re unable to solve an assignment by yourself, you could reach out to professional subject matter experts on an online learning forum. These experts will help you develop a firm understanding of the subject and find the right homework answers.

That means you get more opportunities to expand your knowledge and look beyond your professors for help. Similarly, you can host virtual study groups with your peers using video conferencing tools, such as Skype and Zoom. You can also expect the evolution of modern AI-drive learning management systems (LMS) to enhance the online learning experience.

Final Thoughts

Complete adoption of online learning will only be possible when students have access to uninterrupted internet, irrespective of their nationality, ethnicity, location, and socioeconomic background.

Also, the onus is on educators to use the right e-learning tools to make their lectures more engaging and immersive. As for students, you can expect more technology-driven learning experiences that simulate the effect of being in an actual classroom.