While the world was social distancing, the internet brought it together and we definitely can’t imagine such a lockdown ten years back without the internet in place. It has given the world the convenience to continue socialising while being distant. It has given us access to all resources possible, digitally, for successfully creating an ecosystem to conduct school classes or to host corporate meetings on screen. For the past few months, schools have had to shift bases to online classrooms which have had both positive and negative impacts on the teachers as well as students.
What used to be the hustle and bustle of the classroom has suddenly turned to clicking and clattering of a keyboard. The struggle between “I can’t hear you” to “I don’t know how to use this application”, it sure hasn’t been easy. But every cloud (at least the physical ones) has a silver lining, so let us look at the positives that virtual classes have brought along:
With everybody in the world resorting to learning online, the education system is slowly becoming democratised. The remotest areas in the country have access to teachers, provided there is an internet connection. The world has finally become borderless, at least digitally. A student from a distant village can access classes taught by a professor from a top institute without spending on travel or going through rigorous admission procedures. Every learner has access to all sorts of resources and the biggest resource of all, time.
This situation also promotes a lot of self-learning for teachers and students alike. Students can learn anything from writing new codes, speaking a foreign language or playing new instruments, sitting at home. On the other hand, teachers have the independence to further hone their skills and indulge in active research, during the time that would otherwise be spent on travelling or staffroom chores.
While there are sure positives, it is still quite difficult to replace schools with digital platforms.
The most obvious drawback of the lockdown and classrooms shifting online has been access and availability. We are all well aware of network issues, voice breaking, losing the video, etc. A lot of students don’t have laptops, and students are spending an insurmountable amount of time in front of the screen. For teachers especially, teaching from home isn’t always pleasant, considering the difficulties they have to go through to make the classes more engaging and interactive. They don’t have the means to determine if the students are actually paying attention to their lectures or to identify at-risk students.
A major aspect of going to school is children socialising and having an interactive classroom experience, but video calling hardly makes for it. With the shift that COVID has invited, students aren’t able to socialise which affects their physical and mental health. Science students, in particular, have a hard time learning practical aspects of the subject without lab experiments. This whole shift could also lead to alienation of students from the school ecosystem and in turn hinder their social abilities in the longer run.
In spite of these challenges, it is commendable, how through a joint effort from schools and parents, learning did not stop. Teachers and students have united as a family to fight this together and are attempting to do however much they can from the other side of the screen. Parents of young kids are sitting with them through classes, making sure the setups are working and are even helping teachers monitor kid’s homework. Through this joint battle, humankind is set to fight by continuing to learn, teach and grow.