No one imagined that Covid-19 would turn our world upside down and would bring major changes to our lifestyle. The virus has spread everywhere like a wild forest fire due to which numerous changes were accepted by people all over the world, and it took some time for everyone to adapt to the new normal.
Online learning is rapidly becoming one of the most effective ways to impart education. The impact of the virus was so strong that online education became a seemingly ubiquitous part of our growing world, which resulted in the closure of schools and no further physical interaction of teachers with students. Fortunately, soon enough most of the schools and educational institutions moved to online mode to resume their studies. As a result, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely on digital platforms instead of physical classrooms.
Online classes and technology have emerged as a superhero during the lockdown days. We have all been under house arrest but are still connected with the world of education. Due to the lockdown, students have not been able to stay connected with the outer world and the lack of exposure is evident. The only reprieve for the students’ mental well-being has been the transition to online classes. Teachers made sure that the learning for students was not compromised, so they took a great leap forward to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to ensure that learning never stops. With little time to prepare, curriculums were modified, new lesson plans were created, activities were planned, all so that their students remain actively involved through online learning.
For students, online classes have become an imminent trend in the education sector around the globe. Digital learning has provided easy access to the files and folders that can now be organised and saved without any physical damage. With one click, students can access their notes and assignments without the fear of misplacing or spoiling them. With advanced technology, this mode of learning has not only been simpler but fun and engaging as well. Technology-enabled learning is beneficial and has proven to be more engaging as it helps in making those subjects interactive and fun which are traditionally considered dull by students. It became very convenient for the students to attend classes from anywhere in the world as both classes and learning content was easily accessible at home. Integration of the learning platforms with new-age interactive applications has made online classes more convenient for both students and teachers as more students are able to express their views at the same time using certain online applications. Students have been more particular with their online submission as they are notified on a regular basis and it is an effortless task for the teachers to track down the students who have failed to submit their assignments on time. Online learning has helped students to become independent learners before they make their way into the real world. Students got opportunities to explore new learning applications and platforms during the class, which helped them to develop new skills and capabilities accelerating their growth trajectory. Some of the students have been responding well to the active learning environment created online by the teachers whereas others need a push in fits and starts.
Most of the private and public schools have made a smooth transition to online platforms such as Zoom, Google classrooms, Microsoft teams, etc. while many still find it a herculean task. The challenges of online learning are multifaceted. Online learning has played a crucial role during the pandemic, but its consequences can not be ignored. Online classes can not be accessed by every student due to the unavailability of smartphones, laptops, and network. Unfortunately, the less privileged part of our society has been more on the receiving end of this. This may increase the class and demography-based disparity with respect to access to quality education.
One of the biggest challenges of online learning that many students face is the struggle to focus for long durations on screen. Not to mention, there is a plethora of distracting content available online which attracts and distracts the students more often than not. To avoid this and help the students stay focused on the class, the teachers have made strenuous efforts and designed their online classes to be crisp, engaging, and interactive. Online classes are not completely reliable as internet connectivity plays a vital role. While access to the internet has drastically improved over the past few years, in some parts of the country, people still lack access to decent internet speed and connectivity. Inconsistent internet connectivity has emerged as one of the top excuses for the students to dodge some important requirements such as an active visual presence which is imperative for due vigilance. With the cameras turned off there is a disconnection between the teachers and students. It is observed widely that students would log into the class and then get distracted with other activities. Given that students are free from the regulations and boundaries of an appropriate classroom environment, it is perceived that the curriculum is not given importance by the students. The notebook work may have been taken lightly. There are high chances of the students distracting themselves while learning online. Traditional classroom education offers the benefit of face-to-face interactions with peers which are typically moderated by a teacher. Physical classroom interaction provides children, especially those in their early developmental years, with a stable environment for social interactions, helping them develop skills like empathy and cooperation. It helps them in their overall development and real-life situations.
I believe that learning never stopped, in fact, it evolved itself not just to survive but to thrive and technology has proven to be the most important enabler of the same which in itself is an invention that is an outcome of learning. Technology has helped in learning and learning has led to the advancement of technology. Students need both parents’ and teachers’ guidance as they navigate through this difficult time to learn more and more. Both offline learning and e-learning would go hand-in-hand and online education will eventually become an integral component of school education. Somewhere in the future, education is going to be hybrid. During Covid, technology has become a part of academics and is here to stay. Online applications and programs have helped both teachers and students to develop new skills and capabilities that supported them and enhance their knowledge. Online teaching can not replace the position of traditional classroom teaching and we will need to get back to traditional teaching after the pandemic ends.