Online Teaching : An Alternative, Not A Substitute For Schooling

During first three days of my online teaching all was going well. However it was the fourth day’s experience for me, as a teacher to connect with my students through zoom, that when I was waiting exactly at five o,clock in the evening for already scheduled class, for which I had already shared with students the fixed time and zoom link, “the medium through which I would connected with students”, so that their parents could keep smartphones available for their children to make them attend the class at scheduled time, I found no one connecting even after waiting online for about ten minutes. Then I made a voice call to one of the parents to ask him why his son was not available online. He said,” I am not at home, I would be back till late evening”. When I tried to talk with others they didn’t receive my call. After that day they oftenly missed the class on and off, for one reason or the other. Same was the case with other government school teacher, particularly for those who work in rural areas. That is how online education goes on in rural areas in addition to difficulties faced due to low speed 2g internet in Jammu and Kashmir. This was perhaps the reason, that teachers in rural areas voluntarily opted to switch over to community schooling. I can’t blame the parents for their non-cooperative approach, for online mode of teaching learning, which they show, some times, by not handing over their cell phones to their children, because mobile phone has become a necessity, you always need to carry it with you, whenever you go out for any work, particularly during unfavorable circumstances. No doubt we can’t completely compare online teaching with schooling, as both have their own adventages as well as disadvantages. You can have best content available through online, at the same time you can have best ways of teaching through actual classroom teaching. But pertaining to the circumstances one among the two would prove preferable over the other. For the students belong to marginalized section, who don’t either have the electronic gadgets, or don’t have the knowledge how to make proper use of internet, class room teaching is far more suitable to them than online teaching. Where as for those who belong to a good social and economic strata, they possess high-end electronic gadgets and knowledge about them, they can have a good access to internet and can avail benefit from it. While talking of the difference between actual class room teaching and online modes of teaching. In the former case of teaching, there is a face to face interaction between students and teachers, where you actually can apply your all skills of communication and strategies of teaching well and can assess the actual learning outcomes after the completion of lesson. However while teaching through online modes , the students as well as teachers face various difficulties, like communication gaps, lacking direct control on students, difficulties to link lower ages groups through online and so on. Over and above this all, in Jammu and Kashmir, the the low speed 2g internet doubles the difficulties.
Online teaching is not a substitute to fulfill all the student’s needs which they could get through schooling, but it is an alternative to compensate the academic losses of students to some extent.
After the closure of schools, which happened due to lockdown in the aftermath of covid-outbreak, teachers and students started to continue their teaching learning through online modes. Students of higher classes who are well acquainted with different internet apps required for online education and are aware about different websites where from the students can download lesson content, they avail the benefit of online education, if they possess the interest. However for the students of lower classes it seldom suits them. The reason behind it is that the students of lower grades are neither familiar with websites nor they do co-operate well with teachers while being taught through online. classes. Teachers also don’t feel satisfied while teaching through online modes because they feel it difficult, despite their all efforts, to reach out students with good ways of teaching they usually adopt during schooling. Moreover, schooling is not only about imparting bookish knowledge schooling contributes much more than this by various activities. In schools teachers involve students to various activities which not only add to their books related knowledge but provide a good contribution for sports, culture, moral values etc. If on one hand in present circumstances, online teaching compensates the students to fulfill their academic losses to some extent. However there are various essential things that the students skip, and can be only achieved through schooling. While in schooling, students get an opportunity to interact with their peers. They interestingly exchange the thoughts of their level with their agemates, with the process they come to learn many things. Apart from that they relax from their mental pressure by exchanging feelings, ideas, interests, aims, likes, dislikes etc with their classmates. This also makes them to learn and acquire various social values. So online teaching is not a substitute to fulfill all the student’s needs which they could get through schooling, but it is an alternative to compensate the academic losses of students to some extent.
(The author is a teacher by profession. Views are his own) [email protected]

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