Zoom classes are exhausting! India must change learning methods to bust stressful online education

The initial lure of freedom to do anything while attending classes from the comfort of home has faded and a “Zoom Fatigue” has set in.


(Representational Image: Unsplash)

 

As schools in India switched to online mode, the learning experience has taken a new form - it’s now all study and no play.

The initial lure of freedom to do anything while attending classes from the comfort of home has faded and a “Zoom Fatigue” has set in.

Zoom classes are exhausting - that’s one thing school students across the nation will collectively agree on! Necessary as they may be in the times of the pandemic, staring at the computer screen continuously for five-six hours a day while ploughing through the syllabus is no fun, to say the least. As schools in India switched to an online mode, the learning experience has taken a new form - it’s now all study and no play. While kids can log in to their classes from home, unfortunately, they can’t bring the playground home.

In a race to make up for the learning time lost due to the lockdown, schools have made playtime an expendable diversion - but is play just a pastime?

Zooming into a Mental Health crisis

Playing has immense benefits on the cognitive development of children. Remote learning, however, is anything but playful! The initial lure of freedom to do anything while attending classes from the comfort of home has faded and a “Zoom Fatigue” has set in.

After strenuous school classes, there are online tuitions and then online hobby classes. Kids seldom have a chance to get off their chair; and as parents worry about keeping their kids safe during this pandemic, going out to play with friends is also discouraged.

Playtime has now become a distant memory - both online and offline; and the effects are showing. According to a review of over 80 different studies, social distancing and school closure have increased mental health problems in children and adolescents. Kids are reporting higher levels of boredom, and frustration.

The isolation from their peers, teachers, extended families, and community networks is creating a negative psychological outcome for them.

Another study says children feel unmotivated and miss their friends. They are skipping assignments, surfing the internet during classes, and simply not paying attention.

A case for playful learning

The missing ingredients? Peer interactions and a sense of belonging. Kids learn as much from their friends and environment, as they do from their teachers. The in-person connections that they make during lunch breaks, at the playground, or after school with their classmates are a critical part of their development.

Shifting the studies to Zoom cannot replace this holistic experience of school. So, while scientists work on a vaccine that will make the world a safer place again, what can the educators do to ensure children get to enjoy wholesome learning?

We need to let go of rote learning and focus on developing deeper knowledge by gamifying concepts and role-playing different subjects. After all, you can’t become a baker by reading cookbooks alone; you’ll need to burn a few cakes (and eat them too) to master your craft.

Similarly, when children learn by doing instead of reading, they remain deeply engaged and buzzing with curiosity. It also builds their higher-order thinking skills - which include everything from imagination, communication, and teamwork to softer personality aspects like self-awareness and sense of purpose.

Another important aspect of the play is that it brings peers together, and gives children a sense of belonging. While nothing can replace face-to-face human interactions, making learning enjoyable and playful can be a crucial link to solving the growing mental health issues faced by students.

(The views expressed are the writer's own)

First Published:May 1, 2021, 6:29 p.m.

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