Digital cobwebs / Digital education: a viable option? – The Sun of Mexico

In the movies and series of the nineties there was a recurring joke: studying at university by correspondence was for losers. It was claimed that this type of study had little or no value compared to a regular school, with attending university in person, and that it was a ruse to obtain a degree without having to go through the difficult path to achieve it. Pop culture coined this commonplace on many occasions, in Harry Potter JK Rolling made Argus Filch, the grumpy squib, will try to learn magic by correspondence. Also the famous television series Better Call Saul bases its premise on the lack of seriousness of the lawyer’s studies having graduated from a correspondence university.

With the development of the internet, the premise moved; The new correspondence university was now all the schools, at all levels, that offered distance education and which were considered unserious and of zero impact. The idea of ​​studying online was seen as second-rate, as were its certifications, and it was thought that it would never replace or reach the level of in-person education. Later, online education options were increasing and internationalizing, bearing the seal of the world’s great universities, and although they were still viewed with suspicion, they gained popularity.

But the big turn came in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic. I apologize for reliving the collective trauma we have jointly tried to repress; but alas, I must remind you that it was real. We experienced a civilizational challenge that put humanity in crisis, we permanently lost a good part of our population, we were afraid and we even disinfected bagged food. We fought for a little gel or a mask, we were in confinement for months and we saw day by day how the entire world was facing the debacle.

But in the midst of that crisis, which has shades of a horror film, there were some good things. One of them was undoubtedly the revaluation of online education. Most of the time in response to the crisis, schools tried to adapt to the new situation without stopping activities and staying on their feet through videoconferencing services and platforms designed for collaborative work. At basic levels, the situation showed deep inequalities in digital matters, but, even so, many students were able to keep up thanks to digital tools and teachers had to acquire skills to not be left behind.

With this experience, some facts became evident. The first is that meeting in a video conference room or classroom has profound similarities. Although we have evolved to prefer physical contact, the truth is that, when it comes to achieving educational objectives, the difference is very little. The same students who turn off the cameras and do not pay attention, skip classes or spend time talking to a friend if there are in-person classes—those of us who have been teachers know that there is always one—so the lack of attention is not due to the world. digital.

It was also clear that digital files are easy to transmit, that using transmedia tools enriches learning and that younger students identify with videos, forums and even developing tasks on collaborative platforms. Most of them adapt well to the digital universe which, by the way, provides greater order when the platforms are well designed and allows them to access the content at all times, which simplifies the study processes. There are also many tools that allow you to take notes and even transcribe the class, which has revolutionized the way in which knowledge is acquired.

There are many universities that offer some online education program, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, and there are even some that have emerged exclusively for the digital world, as is the case with UnADM, a free program open to the public and sponsored by the government. from Mexico. The options at basic and intermediate levels are not yet many, but they are increasing, especially in fee-paying schools. Studying online is for everyone and allows you to overcome the obstacles of time and distance. Everything seems to indicate that the future of education will be digital, or it will not be.

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