Lockdown brands online education the norm of day

Tens of thousands of students in cities and towns are glued to computers and smartphone screens as teachers take to online apps for classes and assessments.

As more and more stories of migrants (stranded students, travelers, etc.) occupy the front pages of the newspapers, TV channels, debates etc. teachers and students enter into a new world of virtual classroom. These days the educational system has been shaken violently by the ever-expanding COVID-19 pandemic, which has confined students to their houses. Tens of thousands of students in cities and towns are glued to computers and smartphone screens as teachers take to online apps for classes and assessments. The rush to put education online amid the coronavirus pandemic in India and around the world is unprecedented. However, education, being one of the important inputs for human resource development, it assumes great priority. As all educators approach this new paradigm with varying degrees of enthusiasm and concern, I am equally optimistic and skeptical at the same time. Apart from basic technical issues, data breaches, security, safety etc., network connectivity is a big concern in the world of online education in Northeast India. However, my point of concern in this short article is not just network connectivity, but it goes much deeper. In the context of Northeast India, I am hoping that educational institutions and faculty members will embrace the challenge and adapt, to the following facts, which need to be addressed.

The Facilitator/Teacher

If facilitators or teachers are not properly trained in online delivery and methodologies, the success of the online program will be compromised. An online program will be weakened if its facilitators are not adequately prepared to function in the virtual classroom.

The Students / Learner

In order to hold successful participation in an online program, students must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of concentration and involvement in order to keep up with the pace of the course.

Economical Reasons

Since the whole family is at home, the only laptop or computer in the house might be used by the parents who are working from home as well. Due to poor living conditions, not all students have access to an android mobile, laptop or to broadband at home. And you can't do everything on a mobile phone.

Addiction to cell - phone and the internet

The most common worry for parents during the lockdown is about gadget addiction of their children. Now, parents have no say because there is nothing else they can do other than get into a gadget. Cell phones are certainly necessary. However, it opens up risks for students, young people, adolescents, as well as for the adults. In effect, whether or not it is an addiction, cell phones give rise to problems that increasingly affect daily life.

Conclusion

As I conclude this short write-up, I would like to suggest two keyways that could serve as pointers during this new normal everyone is talking about. First, computer Literacy: Both students and teachers must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to function successfully in an online environment. Second, Accessibility to Technology: For the online learning to succeed, it must have students who are able to access the online learning environment. Lack of access to these gadgets, whether it be for economical or logistics reasons will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. Dear readers, the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed exposed how rooted structural imbalances are between rural and urban, rich and poor, even in the digital world.

First Published:June 1, 2020, 12:24 p.m.