Coping with COVID demanded Online Education:
The pandemic of COVID-19 has significantly disrupted every aspect of life including the sensitive EDUCATION SYSTEM.
As the entire education system shut down overnight, the school system has force shifted from traditional classroom teaching to the virtual platform. While the process has oulined new opportunities to improve the educational landscape, it has also brought forth newfound challenges.
From the first week of April 2020 the lives of all children have temporarily been shrunk to just their “homes & screens”. Being an educator, I feel that this immediate transition to online education has increased the toll on children. As a teacher and a parent I am witnessing this dramatic situation daily and to capture the reviews & experiences of children and their parents, I conducted a PTSM few days back. This post is all about what I learnt from this interaction with multiple students and their parents.
Virtual learning has inevitably increased the amount of time student spends on digital devices every day. The child’s school day routine, physical tasks, co-curricular activities, sports are the obvious victims of school closure but the most important thing at risk is - HEALTH.
This online education lifestyle is affecting the physical & mental health of our children. Sitting in front of the screen for hours, attending back to back lectures has been found to be linked with academic anxiety, depression, in -attentive behavior, headache, eye problems, irregular sleep patterns, loneliness, fatigue all adding up to making the child extremely sluggish.
As most online educators demands student to keep their microphone and video off, motivation to interact and perform is continuously decreasing.
Sole dependence on school is a rare event. Private tuitions is a common characteristic of Indian education for the last couple of decades, if not more. Therefore, combining both online schooling plus online private coaching plus completing online home assignments plus attempting online tests, on an average students are subjected to minimum screen time usage of 8-9 hours a day.
Other related issues being lack of access to devices, poor connectivity, limited data plans, sharing of equipments with siblings, uncertainty about examination dates, absence of interaction with classmates & teachers and most importantly absence of feeling of classroom study makes everything very tedious for kids affecting their mental health.
Continuity of education is the priority and virtual teaching is a temporary shift to an alternate mode due to crisis circumstances. Policy makers, educators and parents need to make concentrated efforts in the direction of helping children deal with this temporary but new normal in the area of education.
LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING
Covid has upended our lives. Digital learning is the need of hour, it is providing inclusive education even at time of crisis but there is a dire need to weigh its cons & harness its potential. Since we do not have similar experiences from the past, coming up with effective solutions to address all challenges is truly complex but with due diligence we have to balance these issues, fears and tensions amidst such crisis.
The views expressed are of the author, Tabassum Jaipuri, who is a freelance online educator, based out of Udaipur, India