Home education: how to manage learning outside the classroom?

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The COVID-19 health crisis has taken its toll on all kinds of fields, including education. As a result, thousands of children are having to learn outside the classroom. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has come a long way in the last few years and made it all possible, but it comes with pros and cons.

Home learning has been made possible by ICT.
Home learning has been made possible by ICT.

Home learning is all the rage, if only out of sheer necessity. The coronavirus pandemic has meant that, one way or another, education has shifted to the home to avoid 'superspreading' in schools. And while there are many ways to learn at home, the most widespread options in these circumstances are homeschooling and distance learning. With homeschooling, all educational functions depend on the family, though the exact arrangement depends on the laws in each country. Distance learning means that the home becomes the classroom in physical terms, but the school is still responsible for the child's education.


New technologies have been gradually making their way into the classroom for years, but the health crisis has inevitably speeded up the process. However, their degree of implementation cannot possibly be the same around the world due to the digital divide. What exactly does the digitisation of education entail? It essentially involves applying ICT to the teaching-learning process so as to build the digital capabilities that this new age demands.

With a few ups and downs owing to the urgency of the COVID-19 situation, educational technology has enabled millions of learners to continue their education from home. As online learning has progressed so much in recent years and educational video games have grown in popularity, this new situation has proved less traumatic than expected for learners, sparking a debate as to whether, despite some misgivings, this form of disruptive education may be here to stay.


According to information revealed in March by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), children and youngsters in 185 countries have been affected by their schools closing down either partially or completely, altering the educational routine of 89.4 % of the planet's learners. Eager to get back on track, thousands of education centres have turned to distance learning, using a variety of digital options, and remote education has suddenly surged.

Distance learning has seeped into the formal education system in every way: study programmes, timetables, exams, diplomas... It has simply has shifted the learning environment to people's homes to a greater or lesser degree. Thanks to ICT, learners and teachers are still connected, and they can see and hear each other, organise individual or group tasks, sit exams and do all kinds of activities. That said, arranging home learning is no easy task. Changing an entire routine in just a few months, which for many meant starting from scratch, has posed a major challenge for teachers, parents and learners of all ages.

How to stimulate children when learning from home.
How to stimulate children when learning from home.


Learning at home has many advantages. Here are just a few of them:

 It increases the learner's individual responsibility.

 It boosts their digital skills.

 It minimises bullying by not going to school.

 It gets parents more involved in their children's education, allowing them to see how focused they are and to keep an eye on their progress.

But, naturally, this trendy way of learning is not without its disadvantages:

 It heightens social isolation and cuts down on physical activity.

 It makes digital disconnection much more difficult and raises the risk of cyberbullying.

 It magnifies social differences as some learners have few or obsolete technological resources.

 It makes for more distractions since there is no direct teacher supervision.


Homeschooling is an option which in many countries lies outside the official education system. In the United States, for instance, the lockdown experience led thousands of parents — over 10,000 in North Carolina alone — to seek permission to take care of their own children's education from home, and that is precisely what homeschooling means: parents take learning into their own hands and decide what, how and when to teach their children. Is it legal? The answer varies from one place to another. There are many countries in which this option is legal, though with varying degrees of regulation, and many others where it is forbidden entirely or floating in a sort of legal void.

What advantages does it offer? It often means children get a tailor-made education, as the approach focuses more on the interests and learning pace of each child and is based on experiences and skills rather than content. There are no specific timetables, exams or study programmes; it is up to the parents to decide and take care of everything. In terms of disadvantages, experts agree that it has the following drawbacks: lack of socialisation and independence, risk of bias as children are not exposed to different ways of thinking, little experience of teamwork, and difficulty in entering official education at a later stage.