Contributor: Mr Chanlang Ki Bareh & Mr Lamphrangmi Phawa
This shift into online learning is the culmination of the month in an effort to prevent the spread of nCOVID-19 from entering students’ population. No doubt an online learning platform is the need of the hours. Globally, many countries have adopted this approach and so are few of schools in Meghalaya! It is the need of the hours but is it enough to promote this learning system without looking at the ground reality?…Online learning is excellent and all, but how will you ensure equitable access to all the learning resources without proper simulation for the students, proper training-support to teachers and adequate access to the Internet, which is the backbone for online learning system.
As states, schools and various stakeholders are gearing towards resolving issues to meet the requirements of proper infrastructure like the creation of online portal and contents. Certain questions lurk around remains unanswered- From meeting the online contents generation to the preparation of home assignments, worksheets, and creation of Audio_Visual contents or other requirements which will meet the standards of fulfilling the entire Teaching-Learning outputs of Teacher-Students.
There are five aspects to this Teaching-Learning & Implementing issues- ranging from Teachers, Students, Parents, technological challenges and finally, the government. Firstly, from the perspective of teachers, there are questions of online contents meeting the standards of the actual curriculum. In the absence of traditional four wall in-person class, may led to insufficient knowledge impart to students due to lack of student-teacher interaction. Secondly, teachers may find it challenging to conduct assessments on specific parameters like students progress which certainly posed hindrance to evaluate students’ worksheets and home assignments. Thirdly, for Non-Tech savvy teachers, this may pose an even more significant challenge to implement the online teaching-learning process. Fourthly, even if Trained-Teachers successfully conduct online learning, some may still finds it hard to grasp; difficult to create and clarify certain online contents due to lack of features in their respective web portal or schools website, hence, using tools such as WhatsApp, Google Classroom, Google Meet Apps, Edmodo, etc. enabled students to understand the concept vividly. However, one should strictly adhered to social media norms and technological ethic while using these learning tools. Lastly, Feedbacks from students should be highly encouraged so as to improve the weak points of the students learning outcome.
The new paradigm shift to online learning for students results in flurry of chaos. The new system may hamper the learning capacity of the students by taking away the physical touch of imparting knowledge from the teachers. Though times like this, calls for an almost ultimate solution that coincides with the Digital India Campaign of the current Government. But there are also concerns as on – the How and What?- these new routine may affect students’ performance due to these concern ranges from what is the study hour’s duration? When to complete the assignments and whether or not the students understood the Audio-Visual tutorials? Whether there is guidelines/demonstration on submission of online assignments? Do I have devices (Smart phone , PC, etc.) with Internet connection? And, How to implement the task or project at hands? Even the Internet data is not provided at subsidize rate for the students cum parents or’ in many instances, the Internet speed are at snail paced. All this leaves many students in vulnerable position where they are unable to receive quality education.
Online learning intensely affects the higher education on matters pertaining to: the completion of their dissertations and meeting the deadline of their projects- notably, the practical-oriented assignments which require laboratory work. With the absence of normal classrooms, students are left in disarray and stressful learning environment which might results to less productivity. Therefore, having a well structured ‘Lesson-Plan,’ will aid into relieving the students pressure.
To aid in promoting online learning, the Government of India had taken various initiatives to promote learning for all categories of students from Nursery to Higher Education. Initiatives like the National Digital Libraries under the MHRD hosted millions of e-resources ranging from class Nursery to PhD level; e-PG Pathshala hosted variety of curriculum-based interactive e-content in 70 subjects; Shodhganga provide platform for research scholars to access PhD Thesis from Indian Universities repositories; Spoken tutorials includes self-training in IT fields; Virtual Labs includes curriculum based virtual experiments, etc., In addition, there are world renounced Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) such as Coursera, edX, Swayam, etc. These are online learning platform who offers variety of free-online courses during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Parents already find it challenging to meet their children academic needs at their knowledge level while imparting and registering for their respective school online portal. It does raised an eyebrow to the surprised of parents who are now tasked with the responsibility to look into the matter of ‘Home Tutor,’ and ‘Home-School’. Parents now add another daily chore if they haven’t done it till date to keep them alerts and up-to-date with all the new uploads and assignments kept in place, mainly, from Lower Primary to Secondary level. However, there is a silver lining to parenting as it enshrined the responsibility to look into their children daily progress academically.
When it comes into the matter of providing infrastructure during this pandemic, calls in the inputs and suggestion from all the stakeholders- such as the IT providers from the NIC, Parents and Students, Principal and Secretary of Schools, District head of Education Dept, MBOSE, Local Headman and the intervention of the State Government who will passed regulations to govern the entire exercises. It’s been seen that multiple schools have come up with various innovations in their schools website but, there are concerns for rural schools lack of IT infrastructure and unequipped with IT personnel who can co-ordinate with teachers to prepare worksheets, teaching aids, online contents creation that can meet the standards of the current curriculum. May be working alongside other schools or collaboration with schools who have successfully implemented online learning is a boon to under-developed schools while keeping aside the profit mantras out of the picture!
Even if teachers come up with the contents to meet the requirements of the students, equitable access is compulsory to justify online education while keeping in mind the holistic approach to meet all the expectation of students. The ability to comprehend the literature; analyse the sum; evaluate the results; assess the questions and execute the problems form the core objectives for students learning. Since teaching methodology for each subject differs from one to another, it is imperative to create online contents that are easy to understand. One way to look at this is for the government to set up committees and convene virtual meets with all stakeholders and come up with robust solution to tackle the immediate problems of ‘Rural,’ and remote schools located in between the International border. The government may also arrived to solutions like blended learning with distance education or have more offline options for students without internet access, such as the distribution of books, tablets already upload with ready-made offline contents and customize learning materials keeping in mind both the long and short-term assessments of the Pandemic effects on Education system in the State.
Unlike in New York where devices are distributed to students by schools and private companies. In India, there are also new effort of this magnitude like the Delhi Government who started sending text message via SMS or IVR (Recorded phone calls) with one assignment per day. Karnataka’s government already collect and curate quality video contents since most of the teachers would be sending their suggestions from home.
Whichever is the solution…One thing is for sure, this pandemic definitely impacts the educational system in India and over the Globe. Whether Online Education or Blended learning is the solution in the future, only time will tell!