Readers’ take: Online classes to stay, but careful monitoring can prevent stress, eye strain

Blended learning is the way forward, but to cut down screen time, schools should promote more audio lectures, engagement through quizzes and contests, additional reading from textbooks. Teachers should not give out homework and advise children to avoid playing online games or social networking
The main component of India’s education policy should be one of blended education, which combines traditional classroom learning with online methods(Shutterstock)
The main component of India’s education policy should be one of blended education, which combines traditional classroom learning with online methods(Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 25, 2020 01:07 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By

Avoid giving out homework, build skills

With reduction in syllabus, the initiative of reducing screen time now rests with schools. The following measures can be adopted to make online teaching fruitful, while also cutting short screen time for the young :

1. Avoid giving out homework

2. Finish all teaching and written work for the day in the online class

3. Base your projects on reading stories, newspapers and books to wean children away from the screen. This is a good time to develop their interest in reading and cultivating skills / hobbies. That will also keep them mentally healthy

4. Let one period in a week be based on speaking skills so that it can be used as assessment

5. Fix hours for students to call you for any queries etc, so that use of mobile screen is reduced

6. Take regular feedback from parents to check the impact of online teaching on their children. Make corrections/ adjustments accordingly.

Madhu RD Singh, Ambala

Encourage project based learning

To begin with parents need to be proactive and should spend quality time with their children

Education is priority therefore it is not possible to avoid screen time, but time spent on video games and social networking sites should be restricted

Children should be made to understand the consequences of spending excessive time online

Physical activities should be encouraged

As far as blended learning is concerned, project based learning should be encouraged.Complex topics can be handled in the physical classroom,while easier topics should be made available online.

Blended learning methodology can be called hybrid learning and is just the right approach not just during the pandemic but otherwise too as it will save time,petroleum and our environment .

The need of the hour is adopt best practices for a better world.

Arti Malhotra

Excess of everything is bad

There is no denying the fact that exposure to the digital world has broadened the horizons of young children. Now information on any subject under the sun is just a few clicks away. Overindulgence, however, is injurious to a person’s wellbeing. Let us not get carried away by today’s needs and demands for a smartphone or laptop for “online coaching” during the Covid-19 pandemic. We must resist this promotion of electronic devices to get youngsters addicted. There is no substitute for classroom coaching to cover the prescribed syllabus, which includes laboratory work too.

Subhash Luthra

Keep an eye on time children spend online

Children’s screen time has to be monitored. Many of them have a habit of playing games on their mobiles or laptops, because of which they have been prescribed spectacles. Parents should ensure that apart from online education, the youngsters minimise use of electronic devices. Many schools, in order to perform better than competitors, might not adhere to the time limit of three hours for online classes. Parents should ensure that schools stick to the rules.Apart from limiting screen time, using anti-glare spectacles too will help prevent eye strain in children.

Priyam Aggarwal, Chandigarh

Children need to lead a ‘balanced’ life

The onus is on parents to ensure that a balance is maintained in their children’s life when it comes to digital devices. These should only be used for essential activities such as online classes after which the child should be encouraged to try looking beyond the digital world. Active parental involvement in the child’s life is also necessary if the youngster is to live a balanced life. Gone are the days when absentee and disjointed parenthood worked. Other checks could include imposing a strict time limit on use of digital devices, restricting certain online content and creating an open environment for discussion. The abrupt digital change in education due to Covid-19 should not be the way forward. The main component of India’s education policy should be one of blended education, which combines traditional classroom learning with online methods. The Union government’s recently launched Operation Digital Board to integrate digitalisation and technology with classroom education can be successful if it begins with the training and upskilling of all education stakeholders, ie teachers, students, parents, schools and universities. Other steps include creating digital infrastructure in schools and utilising the expertise of India’s education start-ups through public-private partnership model. The digital divide also needs to be bridged by providing cheap digital devices and connectivity across the nation.

Parag Puri

Guidance must from parents, teachers

It is true that every coin has two sides. Digital devices have their merits and demerits. Children can gather a lot of information through the devices, which also make their lives easy. However, often youngsters download obscene material, or spend excessive hours chatting with friends or playing video games, which can affect their health and mental equilibrium. This is when parents and teachers can step in with the right guidance on studying online and making the best use of time offline. As of now, long breaks should be announced for primary classes and senior students should be divided into three groups in each class and allowed to attend schools two days a week while following social distancing and other safety norms.

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali

Parents root cause of tech addiction

The modern day child has to live with technology so parents have to accept this reality. Parents are the root cause of this tech addiction, allowing the child to make excessive use of the internet, and buying him or her expensive smartphones and computers. It has a lot to do with their social status, something that they like to boast about at social gatherings. Then it becomes a vicious circle as the child grows up to be someone who is constantly searching for expensive things to flaunt. Then there’s the problem of all schools going hi-tech, with e-books, net learning and online homework submission. This leads to stress and psychological problems as parents want them to top the class but cannot provide them the requisite support as they might be working and unable to give the child the time he or she requires. The solution is to ensure that the child is involved in extra-curricular activities, goes to the library, movies or is involved in creative activities such as clay modelling, collecting stamps or playing chess and board and outdoor games. Spending quality time with parents will make them well rounded individuals instead of netizens.

Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur

Organise creative activities

It is imperative is to keep children busy with exciting activities which parents should participate in. Plans should be made together. Organise a quiz at home, with participants the quiz masters by turn. Simple questions on tourist attractions in Chandigarh, historical landmarks in Delhi, spelling and pronunciation contests will allow children to do some creative thinking. Enjoy the fun together.

Usha Verma, Chandigarh

Keep students engaged

The Central Board of Secondary Education needs to focus on practical learning and communication skills instead of theoretical learning. Audio lectures should be delivered online, often including moral lessons and interesting life experiences. Student engagement with group discussions, debates and, declamations should be encouraged. This way teachers can judge their grasping power and hone their communication skills. Tips on physical exercise and eye care routines should be given too.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali

Lectures via audio lessons

I believe in the present scenario we have no option. Our children need to be in academic mode via e-learning. But more screen time is leading to health problems, eye strain and mental stress. I believe by converting at least 25% of syllabi in audio lectures we can reduce screen time for children without worrying about them not completing their syllabus.

IMS Sandhu, Batala

Make online education affordable and safe

The human resource development ministry has done well to recommend a cap on duration of online classes and teachers’ engagement with online activities.Luxuries of yore are becoming necessities today.Analytical thinking will be remain the most in-demand skill in the years to come for which being connected to the digital world is essential. We need not be allergic to this technological marvel but focus on the shift to research and development to minimise its ill effects on health.Government schools need to remodel and reimagine teaching and learning by introducing suitable home and institutional methods.Poverty and gender must not take a toll on brilliant potential of students in free India.It’s time to make online education affordable and safe.

Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula

Only children can change their habits

Blended education can work wonderfully if online classroom timings are limited. Apart from that, no one can limit children’s exposure to smartphones except for children themselves. They need to understand that this quarantine period is for their development and not for using mobile phones. Parents need their children during this time and we youngsters should try and spend as much time with them as possible and focus on doing what is good for everyone and ourselves. For instance, I like writing, dancing and acting so instead of spending time with electronic devices I should spend time in polishing my skills. No time should be wasted and people should utilise the break to do things they have always wanted to.

Ishita Nara

Surfing net a waste of time

Doubtlessly, unnecessary chatting on the phone and surfing the net can be a waste of time and very unproductive for students.Therefore, parents should keep a vigilant eye on their children to ensure they make the best of these times and do not misuse their gadgets. Presumably, things will change for the better when things normalise and schools reopen.

Surinder Paul Wadhwa, Mohali

Ensure children get a break

To minimise exposure to digital devices, parents being nearest to their children can periodically ensure that during the long periods they study online, the youngsters take short breaks to rest. Schools and parents must ensure that the students are monitored closely through apps that can track what they are surfing.

Manjeet Singh Ishar, Mohali

More focus on audio based lessons

Using reading mode and auto brightness features can lessen the impact of the harmful effects of staring at a screen. Schools should endorse and vouch for audio based lectures along with references to study material students have access to. Audio discussions should be held regularly and tests and assessments done in the same way as well. Parents can take charge and spend time managing teaching hours for their kids.

Madhav Bansal, Chandigarh

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