In March 2020, the Government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 Pandemic. In order to control the highly transmittable virus; offices, markets, colleges, schools and all other workplaces except the emergency services were closed. As months passed with negligible economic activities and therefore economic recession, unlocking wasn’t a choice but an obligation. Almost everything opened up in phases except for a majority of schools and colleges. It is January 2021 now, almost 10 months since I went to my college. I have cleared two semesters under lockdown, by depending wholly upon online education. So, in this blog, I’m stating some of the common challenges with Online Education based on my experience.
What is Online Education and how does it take place?
As the term ‘online’ suggests, online education is imparted using digital technology. It can be through any online portal or website or applications like Zoom, Google Hangout etc. There are multiple ways in which online education takes place. It can be in the form of pre-recorded videos, text-based documents and live lectures through video conferencing apps.
Online Education during Lockdown in India
Even though ‘e-learning’ was a not-so-popular phenomenon in India, the outbreak of Covid-19 shifted the whole education system online. As the schools and colleges across the nation had to shut down, teachers started taking classes online. Unfortunately, India is a country with the majority of the population living in rural areas that lack technological advancements. Thus, a large chunk of students don’t have the required infrastructure and therefore, have been suffering. We also came across some astonishing videos of professors who didn’t leave any stone unturned and resorted to teaching students with the best available means.
For some, including me, it seems like a bliss lying in blankets and taking classes online without the need to travel in crowded metros, waking up just before the class begins and multi-task. However, it isn’t that easy and effective as online education faces certain challenges too.
7 Challenges with Online Education
Even if we don’t need that heavy infrastructure like school or college, we certainly need equipment like a personal computer or smart phone and an internet connection to study online. In a developing country like India, at present, a large chunk of the population hasn’t adapted to such technological advancements. This is why it becomes difficult to shift the entire education system online without much of a thought.
Even if we have invested in a smart device and internet pack, there’s no guarantee that we would be able to go ahead with our studies smoothly. I remember how half of our lecture-time goes with “Ma’am you aren’t audible!”, “We can’t see you Sir!”, “Am I audible now?” etc. because we can buy a 4G internet pack but cannot control weather conditions, servers among other technological tools.
Increased Screen time
Even though gadgets have become an essential part of our lives, they affect us negatively in numerous ways. We all have been subjected to hearing “I’ll throw away your phone”, “Don’t just stick to your phone, the entire day”, “It is only because of your phone that you’re suffering” etc. by our parents. They said so because too much of screen time isn’t good. It can lead to eye strain, headache, neck or back pain, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalance and what not. But in times like these, even they can’t stop us from using phones, because no phone= no studies/work. I myself get eye strain after using my phone for more than an hour at one go. Now imagine those 3-year-old kids who’ve just started studying online for 2-4 hours.
When we are at home, in front of our parents, we are always bound by some expectations. Even if we have online classes, our parents know that we’re at home, which means we are available. If the bell rings, they may expect us to open the door. If they need something, they may ask us for it and if they get bored, they may even chit-chat with yus. Above all, they certainly cannot stay quiet for hours until we are done with our classes because they are social beings too. Thus, sitting at home and studying is not-so-easy.
Remember those in-lecture jokes, distractions and funny talks that used to happen inside classrooms but now it can’t! With online lectures, all that amusement has gone. Most of us turn off our cameras and audios and it is only the voice of the teacher that is heard. Lack of visual presentation and hearing only the voice causes monotony thereby making the lecture less interesting.
Lack of Concentration
Lack of concentration is one of the most negatively affecting factor, which is the result of the above-stated things like homely expectations, ambience, monotony etc. And most importantly, the fact that the teacher doesn’t know what we are doing enables us to multitask and thus causes distraction.
No Practical Exposure
Why do we go to school or college? Is it just to get degrees? Well if that’s so, we can do it by distance learning. The most important reason to go to school or college is to get practical exposure, explore things and learn more from interacting than being confined to books. With online lectures, the practicality has come to zero. This is why now some universities have resumed.
As schools and colleges are almost shut, conducting physical examinations isn’t considered a go-to choice for many institutions. Thus, online exams or no exams seem to be the only options. With online exams, the need for infrastructure cannot be undermined. A lot of institutes are relying on OBE (Open Book Examination). But is there any purpose of conducting exams in which we have access to books, internet and what not?
The institutions are adapting to the changing environment and striving to provide online education to the students. However, the challenges with Online Education are real and it still has a long way to work out smoothly. But definitely, Online Education is the need of the hour.
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