How e-learning is shaping the social skills of Generation Alpha
The distance that e-learning creates is undeniable, however, the positive role it has played in allowing both adults and children alike to stay connected, accomplish work and school-related activities, as well as keep us all entertained cannot be overstated.
Generation Alphas are children born from the year 2010 until 2024, they are also sometimes popularly referred to as the children of millennials. Being children of millennials who themselves are quite tech savvy, it is no surprise that they are often gifted with tech gadgets found on Konga, the online store that parents use when they need to buy tablets, games and educational materials for their kids.
There is an inclination to think that the early exposure of generation Alphas to technology might be an undisputable positive feat. For one, this may be because in the current competitive job climate, being proficient in and even more so, a master in an endless list of a variety of tech programmes and processes is what sets you apart.
Nevertheless, as encouraging as it might be that an entire technologically advanced generation is being born, what does it mean for generation Alpha to experience a form of learning that is more technologically mediated over the more conventional in-person teaching models that their predecessors experienced.
E-learning and its current significance
To begin with, the simple truth is that where learning could have otherwise stopped altogether as a result of the pandemic, e-learning provided a dependable avenue for children to continue to interact with learning material, their teachers and in some cases, their peers, using either a phone, a tablet or a computer.
A popular feature of the e-learning method is the virtual classroom component – an approach which still requires that children have a schedule for the lessons they are slated to take. While the approach to e-learning is diverse and not limited to virtual classrooms, a common global concern relayed by parents is that higher learning outcomes are more commonly achieved when children are taught face-to-face when compared to being taught virtually.
There are a host of reasons for these concerns and they include factors such as children easily getting distracted, children being overly stimulated when plugged in to a device and there are also concerns about the damage that screen lights can cause to their eyesight.
Further to this, the element of interpersonal interaction features as one of the biggest concerns for many parents because it appears that learning online can stunt children’s abilities to develop social skills at a pace that is on par with the developmental trajectory of the older generation.
Essentially, there are pros and cons to the increasing reliance on e-learning and generation Alpha are at the receiving end of all of it.
Pros of e-learning
- Students are able to develop technical skills a lot quicker and a lot more extensively.
- Diverse learning materials to better suit the individual needs of various children can be designed, replicated and adapted without it being stressful for the teacher.
- As a result of the myriad of learning options that exist with e-learning, children can easily revisit past learning sessions and do not have to worry if they cannot make a session in real time.
Cons of e-learning
- It makes social interaction difficult and thus can often lead to social isolation and stunted social skills.
- It is unfavourable to theoretical aspects of learning because of the difficulty in demonstrating more practical lessons virtually.
- Access to tech gadgets means access to multiple programs and applications which easily encourages rampant distraction among children who are still only beginning to learn about the importance of formal education.
What is clear right now is that e-learning appears to be working to the detriment of generation Alpha when it comes to developing healthy social skills. However, there is no telling what the true long-term effects will be. In addition, we can expect innovation that addresses this particular shortcoming in the near future.
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