Enabling students to avail the best of virtual classes
The coronavirus pandemic forced state education authorities to start online teaching since the beginning of the last academic year. With the “demise” of the virus nowhere in sight, there is a possibility of online teaching being continued in the upcoming academic year. An analysis of online teaching last year has revealed that the students who were taught online could comprehend hardly 30 to 40 per cent of their syllabus. Unfortunately, the teachers struggled hard to complete the entire syllabus as was required of them, but the virtual mode of teaching was not wholly successful: more than half their labour was wasted. Teachers are of the opinion that it is difficult to replace the classroom teaching method with virtual mode. According to them, the state does not have the required infrastructure to facilitate online teaching, and most students, especially those from the poorer background and rural areas, are unable to grasp what is taught to them online. As the state is still in the grip of the virus, online teaching will have to be followed this year too.
The teachers who were engaged in online teaching are of the opinion that all students cannot comprehend whatever is taught to them. While self-motivated students could understand the subjects during the online classes, others lagged behind. There are students who require a little push from teachers, which cannot be done in virtual classes. Besides, online education does not provide for “follow-up” by them with students in terms of their progress. Not all parents keep track of the learning of their children, as they feel they have given the school and teachers the responsibility to educate them properly and they have no major role in that. The teachers feel that the classroom atmosphere is most conducive for teaching and cannot be recreated at homes where there are many disturbances and distractions. Virtual teaching does not suit the temperament of average students. It is clear that online education could not become an alternative for classroom education.
While it is easy for the teachers to keep tabs on the students in the classroom, online teaching does not allow them to keep an eye on 30-40 students connected to virtual classes. Taking advantage of the situation, many students tend to ignore online classes and engage themselves in other activities after logging on to the system. Besides, online testing leaves scope for manipulation and the system can be used to cheat and pass the exams without actual scrutiny. Parents have expressed apprehensions over the current system of education and want the authorities to improve the system in the upcoming academic year. It is time for the authorities to devise a new teaching system in which the teaching and learning process could be more interactive and easier for the students to participate in virtual classes and learn the subjects. It has to be borne in mind that improper teaching and learning would make it difficult for the students to study at higher levels and come in the way of their careers.
It has to be understood that online teaching is still in its infancy stage in the state and that most of the teachers had to be trained how to impart education. Though the teachers could grasp the online teaching process despite the fact that doing so involved understanding technology and the method to use it, the students did not have such a luxury. Lack of appropriate gadgets and poor internet connectivity added to their difficulties. As online teaching is to be followed in the new academic year too, let us hope there is a better teaching and delivery system in place that will help the students understand the subjects taught to them with ease. The government needs to improve internet connectivity. It also needs to provide assistance to students from the poorer strata, whose parents have lost jobs and income during the pandemic, for gadgets they need to work on during online classes. The government must take into account the experience and observations of the teachers and students during the one year of online teaching and set up teams to address and solve the problems pointed out by them.