Online lessons are helping educational institutions around India beat the Covid-19 lockdown to push ahead with the academic calendar. But the trend has raised many concerns among parents, educational experts and health experts.
While some have expressed alarm about the potential dangers of internet exposure for young children, others say they are scared the digital shift may alienate economically disadvantaged students who do not have access to the technology required to access digital lessons.
“Online education is doing more harm to the kids than good. I feel that educational institutes have started taking online classes just so that they can continue to charge fees from the students,” expressed Vijay Bajaj, a resident of Guwahati.
Another parent, Raja Sarma, raised concerns in the same vein. “We should start thinking about the problems that students are facing today. Online teaching is not enough,” he said.
On 15th April, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is engaged in humanitarian aid for young ones around the world, said, “Millions of children are at increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during lockdown in the Covid-19 pandemic.” All educators approach this new paradigm with varying degrees of enthusiasm and concern. Are you optimistic or skeptical about Online Learning? Are you interested in knowing how delivering courses online can improve your teaching and offer unprecedented learning opportunities for your students, or do you want to know what you will be up against as you plan and deliver your classes online? It is important to consider both the pros and cons of online learning so you can be better prepared to face the challenge of working in this new environment as well as embrace the new opportunities that it has to offer. Strengths or Weaknesses? You choose which link to follow first, but please look at both – it’s only fairThe literature of adult education supports the use of interactive learning environments as contributing to self-direction and critical thinking. Some educators have made great strides in applying these concepts to their on ground teaching. However, many classes still exist which are based on lectures and rote memorization of material. The nature of the semi-autonomous and self-directed world of the Virtual Classroom makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience. The realization of a shift in technology creates the hope that those who move into the new technology will also leave behind bad habits as they adopt this new paradigm of teaching. As educators transform their courses to take full advantage of the online format, they must reflect on their course objectives and teaching styles. Many of the qualities that make a successful online facilitator are also tremendously effective in the traditional classroom.
In normal times, many schools didn’t deliberately set aside time for teaching non-academic “soft skills” such as empathy, determination and self-care. That makes ramping up the focus in a virtual setting, amid a set of challenging circumstances, even more daunting.
But the world is a stressful place right now, given the global health crisis, economic downturn and protests over racial injustice. It’s important for school staff to nurture emotional connections, child psychologists and mental health experts say, even if addressing students’ academic slide seems more urgent.The main advantage of asynchronous online learning is that it allows students to participate in high quality learning situations when distance and schedule make on-ground learning difficult-to-impossible. Students can participate in classes from anywhere in the world, provided they have a computer and Internet connection. In addition, the online format allows physically challenged students (and teachers) more freedom to participate in class. Participants access the Virtual Classroom through their computers instead of having to “go to class” physically.User friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the most sophisticated technology is not 100% reliable. Unfortunately, it is not a question of if the equipment used in an online program will fail, but when. When everything is running smoothly, technology is intended to be low profile and is used as a tool in the learning process. However, breakdowns can occur at any point along the system. For example, the server which hosts the program could crash and cut all participants off from the class; a participant may access the class through a networked computer which could go down; individual PCs can have numerous problems which could limit students’ access; finally, the Internet connection could fail, or the institution hosting the connection could become bogged down with users and either slow down or fail altogether. In situations like these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable, and it can detract from the learning experience.