Anderson recently wrote in the Spectator, that online learning was an oxymoron and the COVID-19 pandemic was used as a “pretext to further digitise education.”

Online and distance learning have long been considered the Cinderella of the education industry, but the massive growth in online education in recent years suggests that it is anything but.

Some parents and children did struggle with online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this ignores the positive experiences many families do experience after choosing to home educate their children -

  • Some children who are struggling with depression, social anxiety, conditions such as autism can benefit form home schooling.  Parents can focus on supporting the child and helping them to improve their mental health without the stress and worrying of bullying, social anxiety etc.
  • Home schooling can help children to get out of negative situations, such as bullying, social anxiety, school refusal etc.
  • Home schooling can encourage independence and autonomy in learning.
  • Being taught at home can encourage a love of learning, not just a need to turn up and sit in a classroom and listen.

Adults and Online Education

Online education also benefits many adults. It is estimated that 100 million adults are studying worldwide.  Many adults are no longer able to attend traditional TAFE/college/university based learning.

  • Many traditional education providers have been affected by education cuts. In Australia, funding for universities has been cut by 10% this year and TAFE funding by 24%. This has reduced both the choices available to students.  Traditional providers will focus on courses that put bums on seats, rather than a wide range of courses that are useful to smaller groups of people. This means that important topics, such as botany, essential for the world at large have substantially fewer courses than in the past. Well in the traditional providers that is, botany is still widely offered online.
  • Not all adults can afford the time and money to attend physical classes. There are travel costs, time required to travel, plus not all students can study at the same time and in the same place every week due to other commitments, such as work, childcare, mobility issues etc. Online education offers them the opportunity to study at a time and location that is convenient to them.
  • One important point that Anderson raises is the lack of socialisation with online learning. This can be true, but not all adults are studying to socialise, they may be studying to simply learn. Online learn enables them to learn without the distractions that they may experience in classroom based learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic did bring with it a raft of new online courses. Some good, some not so good. There are bad online courses, the same as there are bad classroom based courses. But articles like Anderson’s ignore the high quality distance and online learning providers who have been around for decades. The ones who offer high quality courses that benefit students who want to learn.

If you would like to learn more about ACS Distance Education, established in 1979, contact us here.