Online education amid COVID-19

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Vivek Koul

These days online system of education has become a prominent tool of delivering knowledge among students for all the educational institutions across the nation. Now the students, teachers and even parents mostly rely on the online mode of education which has now become the backbone of the modern education system across the globe. The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has led to a significant disruption in all educational activities across the nation. Educational institutions have been closed since March this year, as a justified preventive measure to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus. The nationwide lockdown that was imposed, in hope to contain the virus, resulted in schools and colleges being closed across the country affecting over 500 million students. In order to continue with classes, institutions are focussing on e-learning methods of learning on digital platforms. This has, however, increased the workload for educators due to extended work hours especially for teachers and professors residing in rural areas, facing connectivity issues.
Now talking about the erstwhile state of J&K now a UT, the internet speed here is confined and limited to only 2G and with this slow speed students are struggling while attending the online classes and other educational activities. Ever since the clamping down of the 4G internet in J&K, the online system of education seems to be very complicated and impossible task for students and even for educators as well. Not only the students are facing tough times during these days of COVID crisis but also the job hunters are facing a lot of issues while submitting job applications and other forms online. Moreover, students and job seekers are facing internet speed issues while making payments for examination fees online. We are living in a digital world where everything revolves around the internet and mobiles. With only 2G speed e-learning, online classes, making payments and submitting forms online seem to be a very daunting task for all of us. It is true that the demand for online courses and learning has seen a sudden surge since the lockdown. It clearly indicates the huge demand that is rising for online teaching. Online learning has been adopted in various countries as the primary mode of education. The e-learning method requires only a good internet connection and a computer/mobile as essentials. The sessions can also be recorded for later use. The learning from home also provides a comfortable ambience to focus as students are flexible to choose the right environment for themselves. Moreover, the importance of virtual learning is increasing as the academic year has been drastically interrupted due to covid-19. Students are left with no other choice rather than attending online classes.
The lockdown crisis has forced us to adopt online learning mode without any preparations. The educators and students are strangled with basics like internet connectivity and unpredictive power cuts. The new learning system has also resulted in increased working hours for the educators, inviting more pressure. Many students also try to skip classes, as the teachers are not able to ensure 100 per cent attendance. Many parents don’t have a spare computer or a laptop at home, as they themselves are busy working from home thus forcing students to struggle while attending the classes over smartphones. The Government is taking effective measures to curb the negative implications. Finance Minister recently announced help for all students who don’t have access to internet facility. This will consist of DIKSHA, a one-nation, one-digital platform facility for school students. The Government also mentioned extensive use of radio services in the near future. The Ministry of HRD is also planning to open the schools after the consent of MHA. Though social distancing is not feasible in schools, the MHA has prohibited opening schools throughout the country. This leaves the schools and institutions to actively adopt virtual learning methods. Online teaching is a potential model for resource crunched country like India, and we should look forward to adapt to newer learning methods. With everything going digital, we need to assure efficiency in learning methods too. Online teachings will promote self-development and effective teacher are being able to realise it. The positive prospects, however, outweigh the negative implications and we should be ready to acclimatise with the advancements.

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