Covid-19 pandemic has affected the education sector adversely, with a sudden shift in teaching pedagogies due to the shutting down of schools and colleges. Students, teachers, and parents have had to relearn and readjust with the changing times.
Over the last month, 1.38 billion students across 138 countries have been forced to adapt to online learning, this has altered the mindset of students and teachers. With a sudden shift to digital classrooms, teachers have to go the extra mile to ensure that students continue to learn the quality of education is not hampered.
Are we ready for online learning-? Hurdles faced by both teachers and students make us question our readiness for online learning.
Most students across India have now completed more than a year of focussed online education.
Thus, it is thus befitting to closely examine the biggest hurdles of online-only school teaching/learning for future management, if ever needed again.
· Health and eye issue- Younger students, especially in classes 1 to 3 have faced eye health issues due to staring at the computer/mobile screen for extended periods. They also did not have the discipline of often blinking their eyes to relieve the strain. Other health issues like neck and back pain etc. have been noticed in older students due to bad posture and lack of movement.
· Lack of infrastructure - Parents with limited resources or more than one school-going child faced tremendous difficulties. Children had to borrow their parents' mobile phones for their classes thus having to squint into a small screen and miss the details of notes/PowerPoint shared by the teacher. They also faced disturbance by phone calls and messages meant for their parents.
· Emotional disconnect- Kids thrive on physical connections. Their growth needs them to experience the complete environment with full-field visual and audio immersion in their learning. The online environment created a severe human disconnect in their learning and development. The compliments and encouragements given by teachers do not seem to have the same positive effect as those given in classrooms with all other students being witnesses.
· Lack of interactivity -The teacher-student connection and interactivity were severely hampered. The lack of physical proximity severely impacted the students' performance and wellbeing. Many students also chose to switch off their side of the video feed despite reminders by teachers, further limiting the interactivity. The added requirement to keep microphones muted for a better class listening experience too led to the loss of interactivity due to the time lag in unmuting the mic for meaningful question/response to the teacher.
· Online etiquettes-Parents and grandparents too were experiencing the demands of online education for the first time. Full homes and lack of online environment etiquettes meant that their loud background conversations, phone calls, and commands to pets kept disturbing the students.
· Lack of free mind-Students face added pressure with parents now seeing their class performance in this distracting environment. Parents constantly reprimand their children for not taking enough initiative in the class thus adding to students' woes and mental pressure. Students mind is forced to process parallel input; from the teacher at one end and the parents at the other.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING ONLINE LECTURES FOR SMOOTH RUNNING:
1. Access and connectivity-The most important thing when taking a virtual class is to ensure that one has access to a high-speed bandwidth connection for a favorable experience.
2. Effective communication-Communication is key, especially in a virtual classroom where a teacher is not physically present.
3. Interactive sessions -Teachers should instead adopt a 'flipped classroom' approach, to increase student engagement and active learning.
4. Reduced timings and smaller class size-By doing so, teachers will be able to take shorter and more sessions, as well as interact with each and every student who has joined the class.
5. Discipline coordinator.- To maintain discipline in a classroom, a coordinator should be assigned during each session.