It's been more than seven months that school and college students in India are studying from home and attending online classes. With Covid-19 still going around, are students ready for yet another year in online mode? HIGHLIGHTS
It is 8:55 am, and Mohit's class begins in 5 mins. He is, however, still in his bed. He knows he is to pick up the phone and touch'Join Meeting' to get into his class. No big deal, right? He still has 5 mins more to sleep.
With no need for physical appearance in the classroom and taking the liberty of keeping the videos off in the online class, who cares about hygiene, right?
Isn't it convenient to blame the faulty mike or even drop out of the class when your name is called to answer the question? You can always login back in after some time and say that you lost the connectivity!
And how about the reduced course curriculum and that too with almost no exams! That is the icing on the cake.
This is a common phenomenon with all the students taking classes online be it primary school kids, senior school students, or university students.
The big question
It has been more than six months of online classes, and the million-dollar question is that are the students geared up for yet another year in online mode?
The answer is a big and loud NO.
The students are sick and tired of not being able to meet their friends. The students who started new classes in 2020 are unable to relate their classmates' faces with their personalities.
The students long to play football in the PE classes or rehearse their group dance steps or just chill in the canteen precisely doing nothing.
The extent of the impact can be understood by a deeper dive into the students' different categories. The students' commitment to study could be driven by extrinsic factors like good grades in examinations or intrinsic factors like their own interest passion in the subject.
Four categories of students
In this current situation, the first category of the students with low extrinsic and low intrinsic commitment, i.e., those who do not care about the marks and neither do they have any interest in the subject - are in complete oblivion. They do not mind if the classes remain online for even the next decade. They have the gaming console and binge-watching as their lifeline.
The other extreme category of the students is the ones with high extrinsic commitment and high intrinsic commitment, i.e., good grades and their passion for the subject keep them highly committed. Online or offline, they do not care any which way. They are highly engaged, motivated all the time, and are self-leaners. They do not mind studying online for another year. No pandemic can stop them from learning.
Coming on the other two categories of the students -- the ones who, irrespective of their interest in the subject, must get excellent grades; and the type who love the subject and care little about the grades they earn are the ones who are struggling in the online classes.
The students are not very clear about how they will be evaluated. They are not able to leverage learning from their peers. Working on the group tasks, in the library, till late hours in the night used to be the most exciting part of the learning process earlier but is now viewed as a burden.
The stress of working alone is adding to anxiety levels. Their eyes have started to pain, and they are tired of getting so much home assignments because the teachers expect them to self-study since the teaching hours are reduced. The classes are deficient in the intangibility of the learning process.
These students are not geared to take another day in the online classroom. They are miserable and are desperate to get back to 'normal classrooms.'
What’s the way forward?
Effective online class engagement and evaluation is possible only when the course is designed well. The success of any online course depends upon its instructional design. In fact, teaching in its current avatar should not even be called 'online teaching.'It is'remote emergency teaching.'
For the sake of safety, even if the students are required to take the classes online for another year, the baton should not be passed on to online teaching alone. The students' learning experience needs to be orchestrated better so that they can make the most of the symphony.
- Article by Dr. Jaskiran Arora, Associate Dean, School of Management, BML Munjal University
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