Table of Contents
Inequalities with Access to Technology
Online Learning is Relatively Expensive
Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction with Instructors
Lack of Interaction Among Peers
Alarming Cases of Exam Cheating
How Covid-19 Affected Students’ Academics? Specifically, Inequalities with Access to Technology
In response to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic Worldwide in 2019, most countries resolved to the indefinite closure of schools as means of containing the deadly Coronavirus from spreading. However, learning did not stop as learners were urged to learn from home, and most people decided to take education online, which is a safe platform for learning since learners and their instructors keep social distancing. Our research was carried out to identify how Covid-19 has affected students’ academics based on literature review and various data collection methods. The main focus on inequalities with technology since learning from home is mainly done online through modern technology, including computers, smartphones, iPad, and tablets.
During data collection, it was evident that most learners have limited access to online learning while others have entirely no access to technology; therefore, it can be concluded that Covid-19 stopped their studies. Their hope is for the government to find a solution for the Coronavirus to resume regular school program. Research findings of the study also showed that social status matters when it comes to online learning; learners benefiting from online learning amidst Covid-19 are those from wealthy backgrounds. The reason being they can afford all the expensive modern technology materials necessary for a successful online learning program. It is also evident that preschool children are the most affected than middle school and higher institution learners because they do not have the more technical knowledge and depend on their parents, who are most of the time out for work. This has made preschoolers not to have consistency in learning; therefore, their academics have been negatively affected. The study reveals cheaper alternatives to ensure that all learners continue learning while at home through technology apart from online learning.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a historic disruption of education systems affecting nearly sixteen million learners in more than 180 countries worldwide. This has led to the closure of schools and other learning institutions, which has impacted around 94% in lower-middle income countries. The pandemic is intensifying the pre-existing education inequalities by reducing the opportunities for many vulnerable learners living in rural areas (Education during COVID-19 and beyond, August 2020). The academic sector is substantially affected by the covid-19 pandemic and other sectors, such as the employment sector. A recent prediction shows that more than 23 million students may lack access to school soon due to the pandemic's economic impact.
The closure of schools and educational institutions has hampered the provision of essential services to preschoolers and communities, including access to nutritious food, the program offered to many early childhood institutions. It has also increased the risk of violence against women and female learners and loss of jobs to many parents, hence facilitating online learning. Online learning has been an innovative approach created by the education sector and supported by the government to respond to the pandemic and ensure learning continuity, (Education during COVID-19 and beyond, August 2020). Adapting to online learning highlights that the promising future of learning and advancing modes of delivering quality education will negatively impact the marginalized learners hence failing to accommodate all learners. This applies better to learners affected by the lack of learning equipment or enabling environment to access learning.
The school closure doesn't mean that learners should generally go home to play but rather to continue with education in the hope of not missing out much. Due to this, parents are now central to teaching and expected to provide significant inputs into children’s learning; therefore, being the prime driver of education, global online and homeschooling may produce some adorable moments, (Education during COVID-19 and beyond, August 2020). However, there will be frustrating moments because it is unlikely that all parents will have enough time to devote to their children's education. Other parents will not access the best online materials, hence complications in helping children acquire quality education. Thus, this study aims at evaluating the effects of Covid-19 on student academics, specifically inequalities to technology.
Pandemic is the wide outbreak of transmissible infectious disease, which increases mortality and causes significant economic, social, and political disruption (Cennimo). The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is one of the current deadliest diseases caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and spread rapidly across the globe. The condition was termed covid-19 by WHO to avoid stigmatizing its origins in geography, population, and animal associations (Carmosino). The first human case of Covid-19 was identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, (Gonzalez et al). The virus was initially reported by WHO on the 31st of December 2019 and afterward declared a global health emergency late in January 2020. On the 11th of March, 2020, WHO announced the Covid-19, a global pandemic.
The researchers believe that it was the mutation of coronavirus found in animals, which was transferred over to humans in the Wuhan marketplace through vendors selling live animals. The coronavirus transmission may be facilitated through expelled droplets from the coughing or sneezing of an infected person, which enters a person's system through the mouth, eyes, or nose. The virus can survive on various surfaces for several hours to days, according to the new National Institutes of Health (Gonzalez).
The Covid-19 pandemic has enhanced telecommuting, e-learning, video conferencing, etc. The most popular remote collaborations tools popularly used are chat messages, zoom, google duo, skype, and others. This sudden switch to digital learning has taught us a few valuable lessons. One of them is that the future of education is in a transformation phase to accommodate online classrooms and embrace a digital education. The development of these tools for learners' self-evaluation has become necessary in the Covid-19 pandemic to guarantee good performance in the e-learning environment (Modi and Postaria). With all these improvements, the education sector needs to focus on closing the digital divides to ensure that digital technology offers equitable and inclusive access to online education.
The study aims to look at the effects of Covid-19 and how it has interrupted the access of technology to facilitate online learning. E-learning relies on the accessibility of technology; thereby, electricity's unavailability might serve as a significant challenge to achieving online education. The study shows that a large percentage of households operate without electricity (Modi and Postaria). This indicates that students from stable families can quickly adapt to remote learning. At the same time, those from humble backgrounds are likely to lack that adaptation privilege due to the inaccessibility of technology or lack of knowledge from their parents to guide them through digital-savvy applications.
This section shows a detailed summary of the related previous studies on our research topic. It presents an overview of current knowledge and allows us to identify the relevant experience on the subject.
The study of Aucejo et al., surveyed approximately 1500 students at public institutions in the United States. The research reveals a negative impact across many dimensions. As 13% of the students had delayed graduation, 29% of people aged below 35 years are expected to have a pay cut, while around 40% have lost jobs. The researchers analyze the enrollment decisions, academic performance, social habit, and remote learning before studying the changes in the existing social and economic divides and whether the virus worsened the existing inequalities. Their findings also show that Covid-19 has had an enormous negative impact on the participation of students' current labor market.
Beaunoyer et al. conducted research titled “COVID-19 and digital inequalities: Reciprocal impacts and mitigation strategies”. The study reveals that although the digital space status is switching from amenity to a necessity, not all people are equal in terms of access to networks and required technology equipment or else skills for optimally navigating computerized space. It also confirms that the digital inequalities were already in existence and that the Covid-19 pandemic just intensified it dramatically. They determined that, regardless of the coexistence of multiple definitions, digital imbalances can be thought to be emerging from a difference in digital literacy and actual access to technology. Their research suggests that the disadvantaged population should be promoted to acquire digital skills through online video or tutorials. Likewise, to our study, the government and education institutions should facilitate the digital skills acquisition to parents with limited digital skills to equip them with knowledge for teaching their children at home.
The inequality of children's access to technology equipment for learning purposes may arise when the parents' ability to facilitate them is restricted by monetary constraints (Doyle). The researcher also acknowledges that a combination of families from low backgrounds and poor parental education seems to spend less time to invest in their children's education hence fewer learning materials. Doyle further confirms that due to Covid-19, the education burden has fallen mostly on parents, with some of Ireland schools offering virtual classes through video platforms such as zoom. Doyle's research identifies a problem of inequality in access to the online resources provided to facilitate e-learning. Similarly, to our research question “How Covid-19 affected students’ academics? Specifically, inequalities with access to Technology”, Doyle indicates that there is a likeliness of high level of variability in both school and parent's ability to provide technical equipment and effectively use these resources. According to her research, some households won't have the capacity to afford the physical resources necessary to support children’s learning.
Shahzad et al. conducted research on Covid-19 impacts in E-learning on higher education institutions students. Their study aimed at comparing the male and female e-learning usage of the portal. To achieve this, the researchers used 280 students obtained through google surveys from different parts of Malaysia and divided the study into two domains; male and female. The study findings revealed that males and females access the e-learning portals at various Malaysian Universities. Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the research shows that the faculty members of universities are getting online certifications to enable them to deliver online training to their students (Shahzad et al., p.1-22). Moreover, this leads to significant technological infrastructure issues in rural areas due to lack of technology access, which may be a great challenge to online education.
The research involved qualitative studies using diverse modern designs; in this case, Google forms, to evaluate how learners’ academics have been affected by Covid-19. The technique pursues how students are managing learning from home due to the closure of schools and the challenges they face when it comes to learning through technology. Shared Google forms were shared online with learners of different levels of studies, and their responses were satisfactory and very helpful for the research. The research design was inclusive of all findings, which provided reliable information about the effects of Covid-19 on learners' academics, especially inequalities with technology. Due to Covid-19 regulations which restrict movement, the research also utilized primary sources such as websites, journals, blogs with appropriate syntax to get more information on “Effects of Covid-19 On Education”, “Effects of Covid-19 On Online Education”, “Disadvantages of online” Inequalities with technology for online learning.” There was the availability of several sources, which made it possible to carry out the research work.
To reduce Coronavirus's spread, an online strategy to carry out the research had to be implemented. Therefore, an online survey technique was used to gather more information about the effects of Covid-19 on learners’ academics, focusing mostly on the inequalities with technology in regards to online learning. The modified questionnaires were prepared and distributed to participants online, whereby they answered and forwarded the feedback online as well. Their feedback was carefully analyzed responses based on their comments and suggestions. For preschoolers and middle school learners, the parents were engaged to help in answering the prepared questions for them on the questionnaire. Through the participants' feedback, it was clear that learning from home has not been very useful, and very few learners are benefiting from it, especially those from well off families. This is because online learning requires expensive modern technology materials, while most parents cannot afford to buy them due to financial constraints caused by Covid-19. As a result, the academic performance of learners from humble families has been negatively affected by Covid-19 compared to the academic performance of learners from wealthy families who can easily access computers and readily available internet connection for their online learning.
This research study aimed to find out the general effects of Covid-19 on students’ academics, especially when it comes to inequalities with technology in regards to learning online. The study sample was majorly based on inequalities with technology, and it involved ten preschoolers,25 middle school students, and 50 University/College students. All the student participants in the study are currently on a virtual online learning system due to the countrywide closure of the schools due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Since the paper’s primary goal is to find out how inequalities with technology affect the academics of learners, the student participants in the study are further categorized into two groups. The first group is for those who can access the right technology for learning purposes. The second group for those with a low technology system that cannot easily accessible online learning.
Table1: Online student participants in the sample study based on their level, of course.
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Table 2: Online student participants based on the availability of modern technology for their online learning while at home due to the outbreak of Covid19.
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- Anonym, 2020, The Coronavirus and Its Effects on Education. Inequalities Due to Access to Technology?, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/962144