November 19, 2020

Introduction of Online Virtual mode of learning: Success or failure?

Hilal Ahmad Bhat

Year 2020 saw an unprecedented slowdown in each and every sector across the globe as pandemic Covid-19 hit normal life all over the world. The worst hits were the key sectors like health, trade, banking, agriculture and industry. The disruption of the education system is the cause of concern for people everywhere in the world. Education is key to all round development as it takes the individual from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, from innocence to experience. It is the teaching profession which is shapes the future of people everywhere in the world. The spread of COVID19 induced lockdown and threw up huge challenges to the education system. With the closure of the schools and colleges in Kashmir like other parts of the country, the education department and teachers decided to move to online/virtual platforms to impart education to the students. The concept of online learning was an imagination and perhaps nobody had thought about it. Teachers from both the government as well as private schools started delivering online lectures through various platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, Wiseapp and Google Classroom among others. Though the concept of online learning was a nice initiative as it can make teaching –learning more effective and interesting as well as it can also prove remedy to remove mediocrity in our education system but there are various hurdles in this platform as well and particularly in this part of the world.
About 70% students of the J & K reside in the remote areas and belong to families which cannot afford to buy android phones. Only 20 percent students of Government schools are linked to online classes which have been initiated by DSEJ (Director School Education Jammu) and DSEK (Director School Education Kashmir). The teachers were directed to impart education through online lectures and webinars by using YouTube, Zoom and Google classes like apps. YouTube is a source of online teaching and its videos are streaming at only 240-pixel because of low internet speed and it helps only handful of privileged students. This so called modern e-learning has substituted the centuries old chalk-talk teaching method and it raises a question on the wisdom of the policy makers who introduced technology based learning in an area where the technology is scarce. With only 2G internet speed one cannot expect the accomplishment of online teaching. In order to make initiatives successful, Govt. must take appropriate measures to provide platforms to the students. In addition to this, online mode of teaching should not be part time teaching-learning process. It should be made a part of curriculum and mode of learning during vacation periods (whether winter or summer break).Moreover the students of poor families particularly those living below the poverty line who cannot afford smart phones may be provided smart phones. ICT labs with full speed internet facilities can also be set up at all the schools. The teachers must be facilitated and provided training to handle ICT/Online learning effectively. If it is done, it can revolutionize our education system.
( The author is a teacher in J & K Education Department presently at Govt High School Brakpora of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Views are his own) [email protected]

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