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Are we really ready for online learning teaching?

Publish Date: 10-Oct-2020 05:00:45

Are we really ready for online learning teaching? Schools and schooling have evolved over the centuries. Starting out as Gurukuls in India to Grammar Schools in Europe, we have now big private schools to fancy Boarding Schools offering a buffet of courses. The shape and size of schools also has changed with time. The building, the infrastructure, the play fields, sports facilities; more the frills attached the more attractive the school is to the parents of the current generation. Well, at least it was the case till we were locked in our homes thanks to the COVID 19! The School suddenly became limited to a desk and chair with a device in front – be it a laptop / desktop or a mobile phone. The fancy infrastructures or the area of the campus were suddenly of no concern. The era of the online teaching arrived overnight and we busied ourselves as teachers, educators and parents to adapt and adopt this new art. And now treading this path these past 50 days has brought about a lot of revelations concerning this new age education tool. The schools and the teachers have been subjected to both applause and criticisms. The teacher is working doubly hard to get across the information and knowledge they have to as per curricula and is constantly battling the network, data speed and deluge of queries from students and parents. The platforms available too are diverse and plenty to suit the ability and resources of the teacher and the taught. What is important to think here is that are they accessible to all?? I recently read a well researched article with lots of data and statistics about how ready India is for online education. Even though I anticipated the data and numbers to be not very exciting, I was pretty shocked at the actual condition. According to the statistics given only 8% of household in the nation are equipped to provide online education to their children on a long term basis. The major bulk of this 8% is the population living in metros or Grade A cities with higher financial resources and of course better connectivity and data speeds. It’s not just the small govt. schools that face problem of resources for using this tool it’s also the private schools in smaller cities that are challenged with various issues. There are families with one device, one connection which has to cater to maybe two or three children, a parent working from Home and top it with poor connectivity due to suburban demography. Even if we could overcome this issue of the hardware the added expense of data usage is a challenge for many. Online teaching has got us through these very difficult couple of months. It has definitely provided continuity and a sense of schooling for students and parents alike. But for a nation like ours, where we cannot look to this tech as a long term solution, we need to formulate ways in which the schools can reopen. We cannot sustain education through this method for long. New regulations concerning the classroom structure, school infrastructure, campus environments and norms to be followed need to be prepared and soon. If necessity is the mother of invention, then crisis is the mother of innovation. The Govt. and the people need to hold hands with educational institutions to support them and encourage them. The future of the world is dependent on them, now more than ever. The onus of all changes lie with the next generation and it can only come through education. So, while the focus is on reviving the economy of the nation, and making it “atmanirbhar”, let’s not overlook the most important human resource and investment of the future --- our students.

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