History & Trends of Online Learning & Screen Time

Online learning for young children in schools is an area that has received widespread acceptance and fair share of criticism. A close examination of facts, best practices and expert views reveals that online learning for all age groups is here to stay. Online learning is the only strategy that schools possess to ensure continuity in learning and personalized learning journey for each student. There is worldwide acceptance of the benefits of the online learning that further the cause of quality education however, the limitations of online learning must also be recognized. 
School educators, policy makers and regulators must focus on staying the course even under the pressure of outbreaks. Keeping student interests in mind, schools must ensure that learning continuity is maintained until full operations are resumed. Online learning techniques today have evolved substantially and can be channelized to assist with the student’s cognitive development as it is clear that learning consistency, routine and developmental learning window are important factors for children of young ages. In fact, leading schools across the world have employed the latest in online learning and designed systems that address the obvious reservations related to virtual environments and target even the social and emotional learning of their students.
Leading medical and child welfare organizations have now assumed a more supportive position of the idea of online learning. Organization such as WHO, UNESCO and IIEP have come out with new guidelines that provide an extensive framework on how to employ online learning techniques in an ethical and productive manner. The push for online education from local and global governments is substantial and is a clear indicator of the renewed understanding amongst leaders and reformers of the countries. It is clear that the common understanding now is that online learning can yield credible results provided it is administered and monitored in the right way with the help of systemic safeguards. 
Concerns around screen time have now been deliberated upon enough to prove that the quality screen time must be encouraged. While it is widely agreed that children must be allowed to engage in physical activities, it is also possible to ensure that young children do so with the help of online coaches or embedded bursts of free time. All stakeholders must approach the screen time issue from an objective viewpoint and differentiate active and passive screen usage. Experts have clearly mentioned that it is the passive, mindless and mechanical use of screen time on activities such as aimless social media browsing, binge watching and excessive gaming that inflict much more damage on young, developing minds than productive and cognitive activities such as investigative and experiential learning. Hence, rules, regulations or guidelines must consider the ‘good or bad screen usage time’ rather than ‘good or bad screen time’. 
Schools must now be more ready than ever to leverage online learning and ensure that students continue to grow and develop as they ought to. With no end to the pandemic in sight, online learning is the only way to render education to children of all ages. If the policy makers, regulators and schools can collaborate to share best practices and learn from each other around the globe, they can efficiently and swiftly cover the lost ground and provide high quality education to all students.
Eduvisors partnered with FICCI ARISE to develop a report containing insights with specific reference to systemic safeguards for all schools to consider: Available here.

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