Work versus education

In a Dutch report (pdf, in Dutch) on the effects of the lockdown it appears that while employees rather like working from home and being in meetings from home, students do not enjoy distant education very much. The logistics of the home situation cannot explain the difference in appreciation for online activities by both groups: a large majority of both groups states that they have good digital facilities at home to work/  study and that their home situation is suited for executing on their tasks.

Why is distance learning less appreciated than distance working?

As we saw earlier, online communication needs to compensate for the needs that are not fulfilled by the offline domestic situation. These domestic situations do not only vary wildly between individuals, but they also vary between different groups. The most obvious difference is that while working adults have a certain level of control over their domestic conditions, students possess a far lesser degree of control.

Also, needs that need to be fulfilled by external sources vary between the groups. For youngsters contact with their peers is crucially important. Being isolated from their peer group constitutes their worst fear. For adults interaction with their peer group is far less important. Even though interaction is attempted by teachers during distance learning, online education does not offer options for random meetings with peers. Walkability is absent. Therefore, it fails to fulfill the youngsters’ need for peer contact.

It seems likely that the lesser appreciation for distance learning in comparison to distance working is explained by these differences between youngsters and working adults: The difference in their control over the domestic situation and the difference in their need for peer interaction.