Learners’ Vulnerabilities in the Virtual Classroom
(Education is a RIGHT)
The rapid improvements in information and communication technology (ICT) have contributed to significant changes in the education industry in today’s digital era, and thus education through mobile courses has become a new trend. The advancement of technology and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, had forced the learning system to be developed online. Due to the perceived unprepared circumstances prompted by the government’s decision on community quarantine, almost all universities in the Philippines, including private universities in Iloilo City, have adopted an online mode of learning to get through the academic year, despite the inconveniences caused by the ongoing pandemic to the students and instructors who are taking the online classes.
Online learning carries concerns regarding the socio-economic capability of individuals and families, especially in third world countries like the Philippines, where internet connectivity has not yet reached some rural areas. Some areas far from cities and developed municipalities have not even been reached by concrete roads and electricity, which has agitated the rising concerns regarding the accessibility of each student who is taking online classes, which results in disadvantages on their parts as they cannot participate in a regular class or cannot grasp each instruction that will be given. Even students staying in urban areas, like cities, still experience internet interruption or avail limited access due to the current internet speed in the country. And due to the country’s limited internet access and unpreparedness many students were not able to obtain or continue their education. And those financially disadvantaged learners have given up on their education because of poor to no internet connection, financial restraints, a lack of technological gadgets, and emotional support, which hindered their learning and made them feel inferior in contrast to those students who are financially stable, have gadgets, and good internet connection. Moreover, students taking online classes have lamented that it has not been easy for them. Online class has been difficult compared to the traditional class. They have struggled to grasp certain concepts because not every home is conducive to learning, there are a lot of distractions and opportunities to lose focus on. And they are no longer learning, as their focus has shifted to completing assignments on a daily basis.
As online learning continues, learners’ vulnerabilities must be addressed, schools and governments must take action, develop policies and plans to support learners. Especially those from underserved populations to make education more equitable for people from all walks of life, because education is a right not a privilege. And for the students, no matter how cruel or difficult life may be, always believe in yourself. Be determined to learn and achieve your dreams, because no one can stop you if you believe and work hard for it wholeheartedly.