AUSTRALIA’S education sector is struggling to cope with a growing demand for its services, as students continue to study on laptops and tablets in the midst of an unprecedented recession.
The Federal Government has announced $1.6 billion in funding for remote learning for students in Australia’s public schools, but the funding is yet to materialise, despite promises of a $1 billion boost in the coming months.
“The challenge for schools is how to manage the increase in demand for services, and I think there’s a real concern for remote education, particularly when it comes to students accessing online learning,” Professor James Pappalardo from the University of Melbourne said.
“So what we’re seeing in terms of the growth of the industry is that it’s a little bit less clear to us what that investment really means.”
A recent survey found that only 13 per cent of students thought their schools were doing enough to provide them with online learning.
Professor Pappallard said remote learning is not just about providing an online education, but also providing skills such as problem solving, reading comprehension and writing.
“There are lots of different ways that you can use a laptop, but for the most part you’re just going to do that from home,” he said.
“You’re going to be on your phone, texting or emailing with your friends.”
It’s not about providing a learning environment that is unique to your school, it’s about the same learning environment you would have in a classroom.
“Professor Papallard is one of the key experts in the field, and said he is aware of some schools struggling to find the right balance of the skills they need.”
I think it’s not surprising that schools have not found the right tools to support remote learning and I’m very concerned about that,” he added.”
That’s the biggest issue that we see in remote learning right now.
“Schools are struggling to manage that demand and it’s been a real challenge.”
In the meantime, there are other options available to students who want to learn.
Professor C.S. Boon from the Institute of Technology, Queensland, said he thinks that while remote learning could help with some learning, it is not a replacement for academic study.
“What it’s all about is the learning that you need to do, to develop your skills, and to learn how to think creatively,” he told the ABC.
“Students are very keen to be able to learn remotely, but they’re not as keen to do it in a structured way.”
We know that they need to get involved in their learning, and they need the opportunity to do a bit of self-directed learning in their own time.
“But that’s not the primary learning they need.”
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