New Delhi: Covid has been a major setback for teachers and students. The colleges and schools have been shut now for more than a year and that has affected the education sector hard. We may have alternatives like online classes but they just aren’t the same, are they?
Although the online classes can be taken at our own comfort sitting in our beds, however, after some time it starts taking a toll on the lives of students and teachers. The gap between them has broadened and the learning experience has changed a lot.
Practical works are on hold because of Covid-19. There are many issues while attending online classes or exams because of network issues. Many students came from rural areas, they do not have a proper connection. Many students do not have laptops or they can not afford these smartphones and laptops.
A lot of students and teachers had and still don’t have a lot of knowledge about operating these smart gadgets. To understand and address this situation, CitySpidey talked to some teachers and students and tried to understand how they see online classes or exams?
Anushka Tiwari, a second year journalism student, said, “It became too monotonous to just log in to zoom classes every day and listen to the lectures. After a while, I started losing interest in following the same schedule over and over again. It started getting difficult to catch up with the syllabus.”
She added, “Even though online studies put students under pressure too, exams for us served just one purpose of passing the semester. It was so obvious and understood that open book exams were being held. Because of this, I could not evaluate myself on the basis of learning and studying.”
Ansh Kapoor, a student of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication in the second year said, “Every student is not capable or a technology freak to have online exams as smoothly as offline. Network issues are creating a hell of a lot of problems. The home atmosphere is definitely not suitable for giving exams. All other sounds distract our mind.”
“Nevertheless, many of us don't have such instruments as laptops or phones to give exams. Site or domain crashes at the time of exams,” he added.
Bhawna Solanki, Assistant Professor of print journalism in Trinity Institute of Professional Studies (TIPS), Dwarka said, “First I have to share that there are few benefits for the student like they can sit anywhere anyhow as per their convenience. Introverts find it easier to interact through the personal chat window. Time can be managed easily and can do other work or duties in breaks or simultaneously. They don't get stuck in traffic and get late and traveling cost and time is reduced, doubt classes can be arranged for them irrespective of working hours also and home feels like a safer place than going 10-15 km away.”
She also told about the teacher’s benefit and said, “Any data asked for is found in the mail. Just create a Google form and you are sorted or if you lose time in meetings, you can reschedule classes. Providing notes on a single platform accessible to all is easy and maintaining a record of assignments is also easy. You can extend or reduce the time of lectures as per requirement.”
Further, she said there are so many issues which we can’t be neglected, Solanki said, “One on one interaction sometimes can be miscommunicated like if the network is not good, you can't make out the expression and all. You rely on the voice and network issues which lead to missing info or missing the whole class. You need to have a good connection with almost unlimited data for attending classes the whole day.”
“As per me, you can't compare a pot with a whiteboard. Repetition of the same thing again and again not only reduces interest but also adds to irritation on both ends. Some people can only sit and read hard copies, soft copies are not a thing for them. They don't concentrate once they miss a point or lose interest. They even feel it's fine to skip a topic instead of getting it repeated which becomes a habit. Going to get assignments checked and getting feedback on one on one basis is far easier than sending a mail.”
Solanki said, “Being elders, out of the work environment, a lot of other responsibilities which were to be done on free days or time are to be done simultaneously. On one side, you are delivering a lecture and on the other, you might be feeding your kid or cutting veggies or being scolded for not preparing lunch on time as you are at home now. Everyone wants attention at the same time.”
“Teaching on a whiteboard, making diagrams, flowcharts, etc. is easier. You can repeat things or switch examples easily but not on screen share. By looking at the expression in class, you can identify if students are attentive, getting bored, understanding the point, or sleeping. Online, you don't know if the effort you are putting in is helping anyone or not. Checking 240 mails and replying in a span of 15-20 days seems impossible or say less engaging than the one to one thing,” she added
She concluded, “Can't rely on the quality or quantity of content provided in online exams. They are mostly copy-paste. You can't identify if the student understood anything in class or your efforts just went to vain. Maintaining online data, attendance sheets, Google sheets, Google forms, etc is a good way to manage data but difficult to deal with at times. When you are bombarded with messages, either you are replying late or missing out on important messages as you have already seen them but didn't revert instantly may be due to lack of information. The 8-hour job becomes a 24x7 thing as you also feel responsible towards your students that we must be there for them.”
Dr Mukta Sharma, HOD of BCA, TIPS Dwarka said, “I personally didn’t face any technical difficulties, perhaps I was using technology in my regular conventional teaching as well. But most of the faculty members taking classes for Mathematics, Accountancy have faced major concerns. People who were not very compatible with the technology also felt a little worried initially.”
She added, “I believe online teaching is the future, at least the blended learning (a mix of conventional and online) a good concept for professional courses. As it is very successful in offices and corporations where the intern are given KT (Knowledge Transfer) via instructor-based video lectures or self-paced learning, after which he needs to work on a particular project. So he is more focused on learning. Similarly, if we change the paper pattern it will be good. As if we are educating our students online, they should also submit the live project or some significant contribution in that subject.”
Tapanshu Kul, assistant professor at TIPS said, “Everyone had their share of issues while dealing with this change, and we all were very skeptical about online classes being a success. Of course, it took some time to get accustomed to the interface and all but it wasn't that difficult for at least teachers of my generation and a generation elder to us. It was definitely an issue for veterans though.”
He added, “Secondly, the most challenging part has been the responses of students. Teachers who thrive on responses, can not go on after a point of time in online classes. It gets pretty hard to teach a certain topic for hours because the syllabus doesn't offer much if there is no interaction. Thirdly being in the mass communication field, practical aspects of things suffered the most like software learning and hands-on practice of various equipment of TV and Radio production. But eventually, we are settled with this mode and in the future also, the tools of online education will exist alongside offline traditional tools.”
He concluded, “Online exams can only be worthy if we can somehow turn toward open book exam structure. Otherwise, it has not much to offer even after ERP systems.”