When the online study faces inequality.April 29, 2020
Since the COVID-19 outbreak situation, a study from home is unavoidable. Most of the students change into online platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams instead of learning in a traditional classroom.
At first, a study in the online platforms seems to be a perfect substitute. It saves the time and cost of traveling between the home/dormitory and the university. Moreover, students can replay the recorded online course videos. Overall, learning at home is not that bad until the online study faces inequality.
However, the students’residence environment and the readiness of the technological devices play a vital role in study performance during the COVID-19 outbreak. The poorer group tend to get a lower academic outcome.
The house environment
Learning in a traditional classroom also reflects the inequality amongst the students. For instance, some seats are too cold due to air conditioners and some places are too far from the screen. However, students can select or change their positions, but studying at home during quarantine can not.
It is quite hard to concentrate on online lessons when the noise obstructs the tutoring. Some students cannot control the noise from the environment. For example, we cannot stop our little brother from crying. It is a massive problem for students who need to study in the living room.
Someone might say, “why don’t you study in your private room.”. The difficulty is that not everyone has a personal area. The inequality during online study between students is different. Some student might have their private room, but their computers might not in their place. Plus, not everyone has stable internet accessing to their space.
Electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops play an essential role in the performance of studying and taking an exam. The more screen students possess, the more convenient to learn and take an exam.
Students who only have a smartphone are forced to use their phones to watch a lecture. If there is an assignment in class, it is tough for them to research since they must go out of the video conference while researching on a mobile phone. Plus, in an online class, the work must be submitted in digital-based, so it adds more difficulty for those who do a project on paper because they must change their paper-based article into PDF file. This costs more time compared to the students who do the work on a tablet.
Comparing to the richer group who possess a smartphone, tablet, and laptop, they can use their computer to watch an online lesson, while using a tablet to note a lecture. Moreover, they can research the information by using a mobile phone. If there is a project that has a deadline within the class session, it is easier for them to finish an assignment on time. The reasons are they can do multitasking due to the more number of electronic devices and don’t have to change paperwork into a digital file.
The worst-case for those who have only a smartphone is when they take an exam. During the online exam, students must always be in a video conference (If not a take-home exam). So, it is impossible to take a test since they must use their smartphone to join a video conference. The problem is how can they submit an exam while their mobile phones are used in a video conference. This reflects the huge gap of inequality during the online study.
the durability of learning gadgets
The excessive use of electronic devices during the study from home will decrease gadgets durability. This directly affects the students who have old version electronic devices. A smartphone with low durability will slower the working process. Moreover, the work performed in the short deadline assignment or exam tends to have lower-quality because they need to reserve the time for the high loading progress. If there is a technical error occur during the examination, those students tend to get F grade just because of their electronic device.
it is becoming a relative inequality during online study between those who have more and fewer bandwidth. There are still have students who are unable to access the stable internet outside the university. Hence, those students cannot efficiently study online like others. The stable internet is important for the quality of the lecture video. Plus, students with slow internet access tend to use more time to turn in an assignment.
According to Prof.Jenny Davidson, a professor of Columbia University, suggested universities to follow 3 principles, Firstly, universities need to decrease their expectation about the quality of assignments. The work students do during quarantine tend to have lower quality than the normal period due to the anxiousness about their life, wealth, and environment. Secondly, universities should use pass-fail grades instead of A-F and consider give A grade, if learners pass. It will drop the anxiousness of students. Finally, Professors should try to finish the courses as soon as possible so students can turn their attention to deal with other problems.
From my view as a student, I agree with Prof. Davidson because many students stuck in cumulative anxiety such as financial, environment, and health problems. Some students cannot fully focus on studying and are not ready to study in the online platform due to the lack of educational resources such as laptops, tablets, and stable internet.
From the perspective of international students, we might not have any serious problem due to the strong financial status of our parents. However, it still has inequality between students. For example, this semester we need to do 3 video clips for JM202 subject. Normally, we can borrow the camera and microphone from the JC office but now it’s closed during lockdown policy. So, it might be some differences in term of the quality of videos. The groups that don’t have good equipment must film their videos by using the mobile phone’s camera.
Moreover, some of my friends don’t have electronic devices that are essential for learning online such as a tablet and laptop. Consequently, they need to use their mobile phone for both studying at a video conference and doing assignments. This caused mistakes in their work.