South African schools have been conducting their teaching lessons through online platforms since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The education system has therefore experienced more challenges than solutions.
Education Psychologist Expert, Dr Vanessa Barnes, unpacks the long term impacts online learning might have on children:
The main point is that social interaction will be diminished. Those with learning difficulties are profoundly affected. Personal growth and mental health difficulties are developing.
Dr Barnes further said that online learning will have a negative impact in the development of children and learning. She said communication and learning interaction is important, and this is difficult to take place through an online learning interaction.
The Education expert stated that parents are not able to supervise their children because they have to work. She also said children are not able to ask teachers questions in person which is very important in the learning process.
Dr Barnes explained that online learning will also result in disadvantaged children being excluded due to not having online learning equipment. These particular learners will miss out on the concepts they need in order to achieve their learning expectations, said Dr Barnes.
Younger children will be affected more because they use contact interaction to express their feelings and observe to learn from others, she further said.
Children learn through playing and sharing ideas from their surroundings which would give children an opportunity to experiment various ideas.
The long-term effect as a result of online learning will mean children’s theoretical thinking is compromised, she added.
Experts also advise that the safety precautions for Covid-19 must be simplified for children in order for them to understand why they are there. This will improve the child's understanding in terms of attitude towards following established Covid-19 precautions.
However, Barnes says this is a challenge for parents who don’t have time to sit with their children because of work.
Another aspect Barnes highlight is that of mask wearing which also has an impact on the communication process and also presents the challenge of not being able to see children’s expressions behind a mask.
Online learning programmes are reported to have a severe long-term outcome towards the quality of education and personal growth even beyond schooling.