Online Education- A Challenge 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the temporary closing down of schools all over India. On 24th March 2020 a countrywide lockdown was declared that took effect on 25th March putting all the economic activities at a standstill. Many people became penniless and homeless that resulted to an emigration of thousands of migrants to their home towns.

The schools as well as the universities all over the country were closed with effect from 16th March 2020, as the central government declared the shutdown as a protective measure against outbreak of COVID-19. In order to let the process of learning continue a shift towards online education system was done by the authorities. Because of the pandemic a huge loss was faced by the students.

The online education can never compensate the type of growth and exposure a student experiences through going to the school. Although the present scenario is inadequate regarding the development of children, with prime target to minimize the amount of loss on part of students online education somehow filled up the present requirement.

In India a major section of children don’t have the access to the online system of education. According to the facts already available approximately 12% families own a computer having an internet connection while about 25% of the families own a smart phone. At the earliest phase of the shutdown of schools the students were happy and excited enough that they don’t have to go to school or do any homework. But as the lockdown kept extending and the fact came into existence that it won’t be possible for them to go to schools any sooner, all the happiness got fled.

Now it seems that the online system of education is influencing the mental and emotional health of the children. Poor internet connectivity and absence of online infrastructure poses another set of trouble to the pack. Along with teachers parents of the students especially for the younger students also become anxious to make their child to attend the virtual class.

While taking a class online the biggest challenge on part of teachers is maintaining the attention of the students visible to them on screen. Next is the active participation of the students who are attending the virtual class at a time. The parents are also not satisfied with the system of virtual classrooms.

The major fact of concern for them is the massive raise in the screen time that is not just inclusive of the time they spend while attending the session but also the time they spend while doing home works, preparing assignments, search materials online and taking tests. Most of the students spend large proportion of hours during a day sitting in front of the screens may it be a laptop screen or the smart phone screen not only just to study but also get involved in social media, video games or watching their favorite online shows. These all have led to a lack in physical activity on their part as well as making them lazy.

Even during the physical classes at schools it is hard to make children concentrate, but while being on the screen in a virtual classroom to maintain the concentration of students is a big task for teachers to accomplish. Whereas some students are active during the sessions some others remain silent and feel cut-off and ignored.

It is a major issue for teachers to communicate on one-to one basis with students. Fatigue, back ache, exhaustion, weak eyesight, headaches etc are what the students complain after attending virtual sessions. All the extracurricular activities along with physical mobility are curbed because of the restrictions that are being imposed by the authorities.

Education is not just bound to learn a particular curriculum or memorizing it and giving exams or gathering any information related to it. At school the environment is filled with teacher and student interactions or student and student interactions possessing variety of abilities coming from varied backgrounds. The atmosphere in a physical class at school is the prime factor which influences improved education.

The learning is better in quality and quick for many students when they are in a group and go through interactive learning. A positive atmosphere is provided in a class where a student feels attached to and develops a sense of trust, kinship and belonging with fellow classmates and is comfortable with the life other than family and home. The instant doubt clearing at the school also plays an important role in the process of learning.

The mass learning ensures the improvement in communication skills, debating abilities, presentation skills and clarity of thoughts. Man is a social animal, and as far as the children are concerned they are even more excited to be with friends, interacting and sharing lunch with them. The games they play during the sports periods and the lunch break with their friends keeps them active and energetic.

Although all the preventive measures like lockdown resulting from COVID-19 pandemic taken by the government are valid and are the prime need of the time but it is also a fact that it fixed the citizens in a deep cave of solitude. Following the solitude is the frustration which is quite understandable. From schools to offices everything is virtual now and it’s something that has to be dealt with.

Taking all the facts into consideration it can be concluded that the physical classrooms are much better as compared to the virtual ones. Although at present there seems to be no option present other than the virtual learning to keep the process of learning flowing, some measures and steps must be taken by the authorities to ensure the physical set-up of the school to come into action and felicitate the young minds.

Ashwini Bhat

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