The covid-19 pandemic has tested our habits. After the lockdown periods, the world of education and work has undergone major upheavals. Distance learning and smart working methodologies have now become established modus operandi.
In light of these changes, it is time to consider the results. Undoubtedly, health needs have made us familiar with technological tools that save time and allow educational-professional relationships between people at a distance. The resulting advantages were immediately evident: adapting personal needs thanks to online meetings.
If this has been a positive aspect in the workplace, the educational needs have highlighted controversial points.
Students, especially those belonging to the early stages of education, have totally lost the positivity stemming from social interaction with their peers. The home environment has also played the role of school, removing stimuli from the children. The role of teachers was also significantly upset. In the first instance, critical issues emerged regarding the preparation of educators in managing the new online methods.
Not having been trained in these needs, the early days were marked by chaos and lack of organization. Technical problems affected school hours and learning was very complicated. Furthermore, the emotional teacher-student relationship cannot be considered as such through a computer or a screen. Not to be underestimated is certainly the attention deficit resulting from not following the lessons in person. Attending training courses in your own room involves distractions that being present in the classroom does not present.
As an added factor, it is fair to consider that many people live in complicated family backgrounds. In addition to living in houses of limited size, the fact of having to spend so many hours in the same environment has demotivated many students. In fact, we must keep in mind that school or university often constitutes an outpouring for one's family situation. The mere feeling of comparing oneself with other people, who do not belong to the family unit, is a fundamental prerequisite for the educational growth of every child. By removing this possibility, a collateral but fundamental activity of educational learning has disappeared.
Nor should we underestimate the psychological aspect deriving from this social situation. The categories of children attending elementary or middle school may have conceived these technological means as normal. Being accustomed immediately to taking online training courses can preclude the desire for other teaching methods, namely those we were referring to before the pandemic. The social consequences are obvious.
On the other hand, high school or university students lacked all that part of the fun that generally accompanies that reference age. Attending events and organizing outings with your mates has always been a social stimulus that accompanies the attendance of specialized or university courses, also useful for teaming up towards common goals or developing projects.
Moving on to the professional sphere, the considerations are different. Thanks to applications such as zoom or skype we have streamlined many operations that would have required much more time in presence. We have certainly undertaken working methods that would hardly have been implemented if the pandemic had not broken out. So, from this point of view, the health emergency has accelerated the technological transition in the professional field that we have been waiting for some time. We had the means to accomplish it but not the will to overturn habits that perhaps frightened us too much. In any case, the convenience resulting from these innovations is unquestionable.
But as many will think, the same emotional relationship that binds students and professors is also lacking in the workplace. For both B2B and B2C businesses, the relational component with customers or peers is fundamental. The empathy triggered by conversations unfiltered from a screen certainly has a different weight than digital relationships. Consequently, all those daily habits that exist in the world of work have also disappeared.
Opinion exchanges in front of the coffee machine, business lunches, and on-site meetings are fundamental elements for developing a winning mentality within a professional environment. The growth of a business is inevitable that it passes through the interaction of the employees who make up the environment. Unfortunately, this truth, although mitigated by some special tools, such as private meetings on zoom, did not find application during the pandemic years.
Furthermore, let us remember that some professions have not been able to take advantage of these tools. As for workers belonging to the world of entertainment, events, or public relations, the last two years have represented a huge obstacle to the realization of their profession. As a matter of fact, we understood that digital tools are not the answer for all professional categories.
Therefore, considering the pros and cons of digital learning and smart working, objective data emerges.
Surely distance learning cannot be sustainable for too long a period. It can represent a smart solution to apply for students who have complicated family / personal situations and who cannot attend in person. At the same time, it can be an effective response for some activities such as extra hours or rest. As an added factor, it is a real chance for students to complete group work or study together from their own homes.
But even if congenial to some aspects, the social one cannot be neglected, especially in the early training age.
Instead, as regards the professional field, hybrid solutions can represent sustainable long-term possibilities. Just think of new parents, for example, in this way they can balance their profession with being present within the family nest. Likewise, online meetings, webinars, and digital refresher courses, as previously stated, are vital tools for saving time and costs.
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