After online classes, hoping to switch back to offline mode
The other day, I was mesmerised to see my eight-year-old daughter juggling her tab and a smartphone at the same time while taking her online examination. The dexterity and ease with which she managed both reminded me of a skilled musician playing two instruments at the same time.
She being in the third standard is more confident, adept and comfortable around smart gadgets than I am in my forties. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have acted as a catalyst in transforming and revolutionising online education as we had known it in pre-pandemic times.
The daily routine of an average student has taken a sudden hit. Getting up early in the morning, getting ready, gulping breakfast and then hurrying to catch the school bus is passé. The entire morning schedule is now dictated by message and passcode on WhatsApp regarding the timings of Zoom meetings.
The hustle bustle and frantic morning activity has been replaced by a laidback, dull and boring start to the day. Half of the class is in shock and awe as to what they are getting into as they are still in a dreamlike state. The dazed and confused looks staring at the screens in the morning are a hallmark of the online mode of education.
It’s been a steep learning curve and paradigm shift for teachers, too. They had to master both their computer skills and change their teaching styles to suit virtual interactions. They have had to face extreme scrutiny from children and their parents who are also present in the classes.
It’s a Herculean task for teachers to keep the young and restless faces, who seem to lose concentration at the blink of an eye while staring on small screens of their smartphones or computers. Assessing students online in times of Google, Alexa and Siri is a challenging job. Nearly everyone aces these online evaluations and it’s not a surprise or a secret how.
Parents are busy arranging smart gadgets, fixing internet connections, and managing their child’s study from home routine. Half their day goes into keeping a tab on the Zoom lecture schedule, uploading assignments and downloading worksheets. Repeated calls from ed-tech companies who want that their child should learn coding at five or prepare for IIT at 10 add to their already tensed nerves, hastening their nervous breakdown. Further extreme effort is required to keep the young ones away from online sites and games that are beyond their maturity level as it affects tender minds.
Maybe online education is here to stay as a vital tool in education delivery in times to come but it can never replace the role of face-to-face interactions between students and teachers. Social bonding, teamwork, friendships and other soft skills that are imparted besides a normal curriculum require regular offline education.
Meanwhile, we hope things will get back to normal as soon as possible and we all will be back in our same busy offline routines. firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor