Challenges For Children Developing Social & Emotional Skills Via Online Learning
November 18, 2020
The switch to online learning has been necessitated for billions of students worldwide as a result of the events of 2020. Many commentators have focused on the technological challenges involved in rolling out the necessary resources to achieve this. However, the other complication that is receiving less coverage, yet is nevertheless significant, is that of the impact online learning has on the social and emotional development of children.
So what are the issues thrown up by receiving education remotely, and how is it possible to overcome them?
Key problems & proactive solutions
In normal circumstances, students of all ages are accustomed to mixing and networking with their peers on a daily basis, creating a broader social context to their studies which is far harder to foster when everyone is physically separated and required to learn online.
Likewise, educators who have no choice but to deliver lessons remotely do not have the opportunity to make the kinds of connections with their pupils, nor to reinforce their learning in the way they would in the classroom.
If left unchecked, an entire generation of young people could be prevented from developing the social and emotional skills needed to thrive later in life.
This is where a proactive approach to tackling this problem makes sense. A growing number of institutions are deploying social emotional learning programs as part of a curriculum which aims to nurture interpersonal skills such as empathy and emotional expression, and also help with other areas, such as goal-setting and leadership.
Additional issues of note
It is worth noting that the social and emotional skills which children need are not just outward-facing, but also self-reflective in nature. For example, online learning has the added obstacle of leaving students feeling isolated and thus making it harder for them to motivate themselves to work, especially when the internet offers so many opportunities for procrastination.
The aim of courses designed to instil healthy socio-emotional abilities in individuals is therefore also to cover strategies for self-discipline and a spirit of independence and initiative that will set children in good stead for what could be months or even years of ever-increasing online learning.
Additionally, students need to be taught about how their decisions impact not only their own lives and academic performance, but also the ways in which the choices they make influence others around them. It is all too easy for those who are learning online to feel like they are in their own bubble, and this is an illusion which can only be shattered by tackling it head-on.
Finally, children need to be taught how to communicate effectively and collaborate with one another not only through leadership, but also through cooperation. Listening skills have to be embraced, even if they are harder to steward and quantify in an online learning context.
While there are certainly going to be struggles ahead for those still in full time education, there are also ample opportunities for the right skills to be disseminated going forward, regardless of how or where learning takes place.
Featured Image: Stem.t4l, Unsplash.