There has come a rise to cases in COVID among kids and I think it isn’t difficult to pin point why this happened. A detective isn’t necessary to solve the crime that kids are getting sick when kids are put into school. However, there are debates on why online classes shouldn’t or should be used as our main form of education during these events, but let’s talk about regular school.
Regular school seems like a terrible place during times like these, especially with kids. We’ve already seen how stupidly adults can be with the responsibility of wearing masks and washing their hands, so how can we possibly trust kids to do the same? Kids have a harder time with self-control, maybe wanting to trade masks cause one looks cuter, or maybe they think “Washing my hands all the way through is boring, I don’t need to do this!” We can’t put them through the risk of coming together regardless of our current practices, cause kids are kids.
So it isn’t that difficult to understand why regular school is bad. Kids are not the most responsible human beings, being smaller and usually dumber versions of the same adults that can’t keep each other safe. What makes us think kids will be better?
Let’s talk about online classes, and start off with their disadvantages. I admit, online classes are not perfect. Heck, even I greatly prefer regular classes over online classes for a big reason. Attention. It is much harder to keep students attended to their screens all the time. It doesn’t have to be a different screen either, with many tabs, games, and applications readily available in computers and phones, keeping students away from these distractions is difficult. When I attended online college classes, I’d find myself losing track a lot more than regular classes.
As stated in an article by GMA News Online, “So it is really harder to teach in an online platform because there are so many factors and intricacies we do not see, and so many factors are dependent on the attention span,” Reyes added.”
What can we do about this? Well, maybe someone could design an application that helps lock your other apps until school is over. Now obviously, this isn’t the best either. People would be suspicious about security especially when an application is capable of preventing you from literally doing anything. This is a common thing malware, particularly ransomware, would use to lock down your computer and and will request money to save your data. I’d say a majority of people would be worried about an application like this.
What about screen sharing? Well, it is asking a lot from a teacher to maintain so many screens at once. This is also acknowledging the fact the student has only ONE screen. If you have 2 or even 3 screens, you could just share the one that looks like it’s doing work. So this option is out of the window.
A solution I can think is the use of VR. I think VR helps restrict the distractions a normal online class might have, making it difficult to look at your phone or tab into another Reddit browser. You could also make virtual classes with more customization, like cooler rooms or special effects if a student gets a question right. There are a lot of opportunities VR might be a better learning experience overall.
You might be concerned about the average price point of a virtual reality headset, and you’d be surprised that after a bit of research, most headsets average around 30-40$, which I’d say is pretty equivalent to the pens, papers, and books you have to buy for your kids. I think if a company were to pick this up, oh wait. They already have!
There are companies already trying to integrate virtual reality headsets into our education system, and it might be what we need to encourage education on a greater scale. It doesn’t entirely eliminate the possibility of distractions, but it solves a lot of problems, locking students into their goggles. There is a lot of room for optimization to make classes just more fun as well, that regular classes simply couldn’t do. A possibility brought up by TeachThought was, “Travel to and explore places all over the world without leaving the classroom.” This could be an amazing way to teach different cultures and history! There are so many options VR has to offer, plus it’d be more amazing to view a monument for example through VR rather than a picture on the screen.
So this is the possible solution I believe we should be taking a greater look at. Regular schools are too risky with COVID. Online schools are difficult to maintain. Virtual Reality might be the perfect balance between the two flaws both sides have.