Can online lectures compensate for classroom teaching?
Creativity at stake with e-learning
The coronavirus outbreak has greatly disrupted our educational system. Schools, colleges and universities across the country have been closed to keep students safe and healthy at home. But many academic institutions, particularly schools, have started conducting virtual classes through different digital and social media platforms, and television channels to complete the syllabus and prepare students for pending exams. Though it is imperative to maintain the engagement of students during the nationwide lockdown, the new experiment has not been smooth. It seems a mere alibi to justify the performance of their social responsibility and charging of fee. No matter how hard the endeavour be, this unplanned and rapid shift cannot make up for the academic loss suffered by students. There is practically no alternative to classroom activities. Forced online teaching and learning process is fraught with challenges such as lack of requisite digital equipment, reliable internet access and sufficient technical know-how. Confused and stressed, students have to struggle hard to receive instructions. It has had a negative impact on their physical and mental health. In the absence of proper interaction with teachers and peers, creativity is at stake. Moreover, the practical part of education such as sports, lab work and manual skills is completely amiss. Home-learning programmes thus forfeit the very aim and purpose of education in the prevailing scenario.
Air lectures on Doordarshan
When schools, colleges are closed due to Covid-19, online education has become the talk of town. Schools are providing online lectures to students, where a teacher delivers lecture to all students of the same section and class. Sometimes, it seems very difficult for teachers to satisfy the queries of all students in 30 to 40 minutes. Where schools are showing gratitude on charging only tuition fee for two to three hours of study, parents had to buy a spare laptop, phone or tablet and the additional expenditure of the internet pack. Slow internet speed is another problem, especially for those living in remote areas. Uniformity in syllabus and education is the need of the hour. Lectures should be aired on Doordarshan, which will solve the problem of network issues and spending additional money on gadgets.
No substitute for classroom learning
Spending a fairly considerable time under strict lockdown remained a very insipid experience. But it taught many new valuable lessons. Being a student of BBA, LLB, I kept worrying about studies through the new set-up being introduced during this period. The student community was made to learn many new aspects about studies during these precarious conditions. Right from the start of my student career, I was accustomed to classroom learning, but now, abruptly I stood accosted with online studies. The implementation was very sudden and abrupt and everyone had a tough time. But we have to start from somewhere. Thus, I treated it as a new beginning. The online system of studies stands nowhere equal to classroom studies. Our teachers are no doubt very learned and experienced, but since the new technology has come in the way, it makes the process difficult for teachers and pupil both. Teachers have to put an extra labour and students have to make an extra effort to understand lectures, for which they are not specifically accustomed. The new system has started showing its evil effects as well. It has been seen that students have started having eyesight problems owing to constantly being glued to computers or mobile phones. I can squarely conclude that online studies are no substitute for classroom studies.
Students need teachers physically
Classroom teaching is considered the best way of teaching. In my opinion, every student needs a teacher in a physical form. The government should allow reopening of coaching institutes, colleges and universities because students are mature enough to understand the current situation. Primary schools should be put on hold, but students studying in Class XI and XII should be allowed to come to school by following lockdown norms. Students miss their friends, teachers and routines. Their education is suffering. As to how to make it possible for teachers and students to maintain distance and other factors should be discussed. The authorities should also plan to shrink class sizes.
Gradual return to normalcy only way out
Everything came to a standstill in this pandemic. After two months, we however, seem to be inching back to normalcy (the new normal with all precautions). Education took a massive hit during this period. Herculean efforts by the school managements and teachers is seeing students attending online lessons, getting online tests, but can this really serve the purpose ? There are various factors that come to play. Firstly, every student may not have access to a computer or a laptop. The argument that every household has at least one mobile phone with the service providers doling out data at nominal rates may not be of use if there are two or three children whose classes are going on simultaneously. Secondly, there is nothing that comes close to classroom teaching, where the interaction between a student and a teacher is beyond comparison. A good teacher can judge from the face of a student whether he/she is following the lessons or not. Classes should be started in such a way that 50 per cent students attend classes on one day and the other half the next day. Higher class students need practical classes which cannot be covered through online teaching. Young children can be taught at home as their syllabus is easy to cover. Gradual return to normalcy is the only way out.
Online teaching A revolutionary step
Covid-19 is an opportunity to uplift education to new heights. Online teaching is effectively compensating for classroom teaching. Rather it is the need of the hour and a revolutionary step benefitting students. Extraordinary interest shown by students is proving its success. Punjab Education Secretary Krishan Kumar has done a commendable job in imparting online education to government school students. Motivated by the move, government teachers are giving their best in the time of crisis. Moreover, the Union Finance Minister recently announced the launch of ‘One class, one channel’ which will prove a boon for the education sector.
It is the Last and the only option
It takes a lot of efforts to suddenly resort to the process of online teaching. I agree that this medium of teaching cannot compensate for classroom teaching at all. But believe me, this is the last and only option which we have to opt for in these difficult times when students are literally crying for socialisation. They are in dire need of mingling with their friends at their educational institutions. However, the positive thing is that if the process of online teaching can incorporate interesting and engaging anecdotes and mind-opening stories, a complete transformation can take place. I believe that delivering yoga and aerobic classes can also help the students relax their mind and sharpen their acumen. The only point we need to focus on is to give due weightage to the learners” emotions and creativity. Teachers must adapt to new and innovative ways to impart their skills. The students can be encouraged to write their feelings in the form of a poem, song or even a short story. The bottom line is they need to be involved in a fruitful manner. In these challenging times, we have to take double responsibility of our students by making them count in the virtual mode of teaching and learning.
Simranjeet Singh Saini
Online education system a failure
These uncertain times of Covid-19 have posed hindrance to all people, including students. To overcome this situation, schools are trying to upgrade themselves in terms of technology by compensating students for the loss of physical classes. However, in my opinion online teaching is proving to be a failure. Firstly, students of government schools are not equally privileged like their private school counterparts and most of them can’t afford smartphones and laptops. Secondly, many rural areas, where a majority of the government schoolchildren reside, do not have access to Internet and have poor network issues. Thirdly, students can misuse class ‘screen sharing’ option to display any objectionable content. Online education may be provided by sharing material to students, which they can access as per their convenience. Their assignments should be corrected by teachers and given inputs to improve their writing abilities.
No match for classroom teaching
Online teaching has become a necessity but not a choice due to the pandemic. It is proven that people above 60, particularly male, and children below 10 are more susceptible to the virus. But virtual teaching can’t be as good as classroom teaching. I remember that we would bow and touch the threshold of the classroom before entering it. We used to be in awe of teachers because of corporal punishment during those days. But the good thing was that we also spent time playing with our friends during recess and after school hours. Those friendships and bonding were continued for years. All such things will be gone with online teaching. It will be dull and unsentimental. There will be no emotional bonding between teachers and pupils. People like me still have connections with our school friends. In a nutshell, I online teaching can’t be as good as classroom teaching.
Dr JS Wadhwa
Best available option during pandemic
Given the extraordinary circumstances created by coronavirus, resorting to online teaching temporarily is the best option available with us. The children being a vulnerable section, deserve to be treated in a special way and there are chances that the norms of social distancing and other basic precautions may be violated at any level. Moreover, the period of isolation can be best utilised by parents for having close and effective interactions with their wards to solve any issue faced by them. Both parents and their wards will feel relaxed and secure at home and it will also help save their time. However, teachers should make themselves available online to their students for a specified period in case they need any assistance.
Opening schools a better option
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world topsy-turvy. It has been two months since schools were shut to ensure safety of children. Was it a right step? I differ. Online teaching can’t compare with the real experience of a classroom. Internet connectivity is erratic and the voice quality deteriorates every now and then. Most of the children are reporting symptoms of eye strain resulting due to compulsory viewing of computer or mobile phone screens for long hours. The online teaching has also deprived children of physical interaction with their friends. Giggles, laughs and secret talks between classroom buddies have disappeared. Many teachers admit that while teaching from home they fail to get proper response from children. Is there a viable alternative available? In Israel, schools have reopened with children divided into smaller groups in different shifts. It can be an alternative. The norms of social distancing and sanitation are strictly adhered to. There is no school assembly or other social gatherings. In fact, the children learn important lessons of sanitation from the school which would protect them from Covid and also other diseases. Opening of schools seems to be a much better alternative in the present circumstances.
Gulbahar S Sidhu
Virtual education playing vital role
Schools have been closed for an indefinite period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is really a tough time for students, teachers and parents. Online education plays a vital role in this situation as students are in touch with their teachers. At least they are learning at home. The Punjab Government initiated good steps for providing online education to government school students. Online education cannot be fully substitute of classroom teaching but it serves 80-90% of the same. Teachers are doing their best in the present situation. Students are also getting the hang of online learning. Parents are much aware about the situation and they are also helping their children.
Can’t compensate for classroom teaching
I do agree with the fact that virtual learning is the need of the hour but it is another fact that it can’t compensate for classroom teaching. Though virtual learning doesn’t require waking up early and one can study in a comfortable manner, there is a lack of association and close relationship between teachers and students and among pupils. Moreover, classroom teaching also cultivates good habits of discipline and punctuality, which play an important role in shaping one’s life. Physical interaction is also beneficial for the all-round development of children. Besides, classroom teaching breaks the monotony of life. Children meet their friends, do different activities and improve their mental health and abilities too. Teachers also work with enthusiasm every other day. Schools hold various extracurricular activities in addition to competitions and exams, which result in skill development. Hence, classroom teaching is much more effective than online teaching.
Online lectures Not accessible to all
Schools have been closed for an indefinite period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Online teaching is going on. But according to me, online teaching cannot compensate for classroom teaching. Technology cannot inspire students. Teacher acts as a guide and mentor also and this role cannot be compensated by technology. Moreover, all students do not have access to computers, smartphones and Internet. Children from underprivileged sections are facing problems in the absence of gadgets.
There are plans to start a Jaipur-Adampur-Delhi flight. Is this the right time to start flights to a new destination when the state governments have already announced 14-day home quarantine for all domestic flyers?
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