Preventive confinement at home, so as not to become infected and not help to spread the new coronavirus, created a turning point in the trajectory of education in Brazil. On March 18, the Ministry of Education issued Ordinance No. 343, which authorizes “in an exceptional character” the substitution of face-to-face classes with classes of the distance education model (EAD) that use information technology and remote communication in courses that were in progress. progress.

Parallel to the MEC norm, governors and mayors suspended classes to prevent the growth of covid-19, as has already happened in China, South Korea, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Public initiatives led “several institutions to adopt the Distance Learning [Distance Education] modality literally overnight in on-site face-to-face courses, including in high school,” records André Luis Garbulha, an 18-year specialist in teaching and learning.

“We had to adapt to the home office [telework] scheme,” says Márcio Joaquim dos Santos, coordinator of the Human Resources course at Faculdade Anhanguera Santana, in São Paulo. According to him, thanks to online tools and platforms, he has managed to keep in touch with students and teachers. Through the computer at home or cell phone, students have access to videos, explanatory slide presentations, answers to questions by e-mail and even live online classes, he describes.

“EAD fits perfectly as a solution to the current reality. Due to its flexibility, to the different means of content transmission (videos, texts, applications, games), to the existing communication channels, in addition to benefiting the different types of learning ”, evaluates Fábia Kátia Moreira, consultant of EAD and international technology, working in the area for over 25 years.

For her, “in the face of the covid-19 pandemic, even the most traditional and resistant institutions to EAD are using this modality, if not to offer new learning possibilities to students, at least to guarantee the fulfillment of the two hundred school days required by law . ”

“In this moment that we are living in, the sport is proving to be a great alternative, as it makes it possible for people to continue their studies even though they are at home, interacting with teachers and classmates”, adds Marcos Lemos, vice – academic president of Kroton, which has more than 1,400 teaching centers in schools and colleges belonging to the private education group (Anhanguera, Pitágoras, Unime, Uniderp, Unopar, Fama and Unic).

According to him, although there is still “a clear distinction between face-to-face and distance learning in Brazil”, the continuity of this year’s academic calendar will only be possible “thanks to the academic model and the use of technology and content resources from the virtual environment. of learning, which is already part of the daily lives of these students ”. In different schools and colleges, students have access to digital classes, homework, assessments, scores for different activities and monitoring indicators.

EAD is not for anyone
Fábia Kátia Moreira considers that EAD is “a double-edged sword”. If the course is not good, “it can bring consequences such as greater resistance to the [teaching] modality, lack of credibility and poor training”.

On the positive side, “if well programmed and executed”, learning can develop skills and competences in the student that are useful for life, such as “autonomy, discipline, time organization, reading and interpretation skills, meeting goals and deadlines, in addition to the development of highly complex skills such as understanding, analysis and synthesis. ”

Heavy pros and cons, the consultant stresses that “EAD is not for everyone”. The teaching and learning modality requires autonomy, discipline and a high dose of dedication. “A large part of our students, especially in elementary school, are not yet prepared for this modality”, he warns.

The specialist André Luis Garbulha agrees and also states that EAD “is not for everyone”. According to him, “occasionally, people are attracted to distance education due to the low value of the parcels, but they forget that there must be a deeper and even more familiar commitment to studies. The student will be required to have discipline and focus. ”

Growth of the sport
The Brazilian Association of Maintainers of Higher Education (Abmes) projects that in 2023 more students will enroll in distance education courses than in face-to-face courses.

The Higher Education Census, conducted by Inep / MEC, indicates that since 2016 enrollment in distance learning courses has grown by more than 5% per year, while enrollment in face-to-face courses is declining. The 2018 census, conducted by Inep showed, for the first time in the historical series, more vacancies offered at a distance (7.1 million) than in classroom courses (6.3 million).

According to experts, the labor market absorbs labor well

m formed in distance courses. “According to the Brazilian Human Resources Association, the distance learning modality has been as accepted as the on-site one. The recruiter does not observe the modality, but if the Institution has a good evaluation in MEC ”, quotes Fábia Kátia.

Garbulha points out competitive advantages for those who graduated in distance education: “to complete a distance education, skills such as organization, discipline, proactivity and focus are highly indirectly developed, which is not necessarily the case with face-to-face students”.

As he told Agência Brasil, “the employer only knows that the candidate or employee has completed his undergraduate or graduate course in distance learning if this is said at some point”. The legislation obliges institutions to issue diplomas and certificates without any differentiation between classroom and distance courses.

Choice of course
“When choosing a higher education course, regardless of the modality, it is important to get to know about the institution, to check course information, for example, estimated course load, course program, sequence of modules, etc. However, more important than that is to keep in mind the quality of the course ”, recommends Marcos Lemos.

In the case of formal courses, such as undergraduate courses in higher education, Fábia Kátia advises those interested in “checking if the minimum contents required by the Ministry of Education [available in the National Curriculum Guidelines] are included in the curriculum, as well as the evaluation of the institution and the course at MEC ”.

According to her, another important aspect is “the methodology adopted, as the teaching material offered and active tutoring are of paramount importance for the learning process”.

The choice of the course must be made based on the student’s interest and based on research. For André Garbulha, the general guideline is to start the choice “by checking on the Ministry of Education website if the chosen institution has accreditation for distance learning mode”.

Those interested should also seek information with references in the job market and among students of the institution. “A traditional institution and recognized for training good professionals, offering distance education, is a great choice”, he suggests.

At the request of the report, the experts indicated several platforms and institutions where free and training courses can be found with degrees even after graduation. Below is the alphabetical list of institutions with free distance learning courses and in Portuguese.