The Struggles of Running an Educational System During A Pandemic
One of the most distinct memories most people have of their childhood years is waking up early every morning to get ready for school. Each working day starts with the bus ride to school where you catch up with your friends and chatter away before another day of classes. Schools are centres for education, but they are also spaces where children and students of all ages socialise, build friendships and learn how to navigate their way among people. With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this experience has become a long-lost memory for school goers.
The pandemic has caused most states to enforce strict lockdowns, forcing students to remain within their homes. As a result, educational institutions have been forced to switch to online modes of education. Students are now expected to remain at home and rely completely on the virtual world for their education. Although Online education is the need of the hour and has increased reach for the institution and flexibility for the student, it brings with it a list of challenges.
In the past few years, access to the internet has increased across the country. However, it is only a small percentage of the population that has access to the internet in their homes. With internet cafes and popular Wi-Fi hubs being shut down due to the pandemic, it is difficult for most people to get regular and uninterrupted access to the internet. Additionally, not all students are proficient in using various digital platforms and may face difficulties while trying to study online.
The lack of easy access to the internet makes it extremely difficult for students to attend live online classes. Some teachers may upload video lectures online so that students may access it as and when they get access to the internet, but it is difficult to keep students engaged through this form of education.
A classroom setting is designed for the explicit purpose of learning and education. It is easier for students to concentrate and stay engaged with the course material in such a setting. Many students may find it difficult to maintain concentration while they’re sitting at home. The absence of a dedicated study space combined with the distractions of a home setting may cause many students to lose focus during the virtual study sessions.
In a classroom, the teacher can personally see whether or not students are paying attention and if they’re able to keep up with the course. Teachers do not have this benefit in a virtual setting. This can cause students to lag behind on their studies if they struggle with a concept. Both teachers and students will have to take extra efforts to ensure that all doubts are cleared outside the virtual classroom setting. It is up to the student to remain motivated and follow up on their studies as required. As a result, many students do not complete the course requirements on time.
Sense of Isolation
For many students, one of the integral parts of the learning experience is the ability to interact with fellow students. Most students begin to miss the classroom setting after a few days of studying from home. Teachers also tend to miss the real-time interaction with their students. The virtual setting makes it difficult for students and teachers to build a connection with each other. Without a sense of camaraderie, it can be difficult to remain invested in a class.
Teachers who primarily teach in a classroom setting may also find it difficult to record classes over a digital platform where they cannot interact with the students in real-time. The digital platform also requires the teacher to spend more of their resources. Since teachers can no longer interact with students one-on-one, they need to develop resources such as presentations or notes that can be shared with students. This takes times and effort.
Struggle of Assessments
In India, written examinations are the most common form of assessing the progress of students. Examinations can get quite competitive and play a key role in how students will proceed with their higher education. In a digital setting, it is difficult to conduct these types of examinations. Online examinations are not an effective tool to test students who do not have uninterrupted access to the internet. It is also difficult to conduct closed-book examinations on a digital platform as there is no way to monitor the student.
The pandemic has brought to light the need for alternatives forms of testing in educational institutions. One of the common options is to give students assignments. However, this can be difficult for some students. Many students struggle to shuttle between the numerous assignments that they receive from multiple courses.
As the world struggles to cope with the consequences of the pandemic, all industries have had to adopt new methods of functioning. Similarly, the education industry has also adapted to changing circumstances. The lockdowns and restrictions on movement may continue, but that cannot stand in the way of students and their right to an education. The question hence remains, is this the new normal in the Educational field? If yes, how are we going to deal with it.
Secretary | Nazareth Group of Institutions.