The outbreak of Coronavirus disease (covid-19) has suspended offline and in-person classrooms throughout the globe. This deadly disease has hampered the total life of the human race. Loss of deaths has added petrol to our emotions. The education industry has been dramatically influenced due to instant lockdown and social distancing guidelines. Amidst covid-19, technology helped us to modify our traditional teaching-learning process. Online and virtual platforms were staged to minimize the academic loss of students. Online and open schooling is not a novice practice to the education industry. Earlier online education was associated to distance and non-formal education only. But now emerging technology is advancing and shaping the formal education rapidly. The basic requirements for online learning perceived by students during the pandemic era are the Internet, smartphones, Laptops or Tablets. Such facilities whether having been facilitated by every student raise a debate specifically in Kashmir valley wherein uneven social strata are being explored. Marginalized sections of society including scheduled tribes and scheduled castes found it very hard to earn their pocket money. So, affording digital gadgets for online learning is beyond their imagination. During the covid-19 pandemic, teachers used different online platforms for the teaching-learning process like Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meet, etc. Through these platforms, our teachers taught subject matters theoretically without considering the nature of academic subjects. How students can learn theoretically when academic subjects like Mathematics and Science command drill, practice and experience. This has de-motivated students for further online schooling and I think one of the main reasons behind the thin attendance of students in such online platforms was that students were not prepared well for digital learning. Primary class students were not taken any proper educational care in my school during this tough period. No virtual classes were entertained for them and only the home assignments were being shared through Whatsapp groups. I believe primary class students even can learn a lot through the virtual platform if school authorities had taken it seriously. National Education Policy (2020) even has envisaged that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6 years (clause 1.1, page 7). This speaks about how important is the foundational education for children. The emerging school of psychology commonly known as Connectivism has considered education a tetra-polar process including child, teacher, social environment and technology. I found my mamu very disappointed and dissatisfied when his kid was taken away from online schooling from the similar school I presently am enrolled. China has established the largest ‘online movement’ for K-12 students with approximately 730,000 students from Kindergarten to 12th grade attending classes via the Tencent K-12 Online School in Wuhan.
When online studying came into force, the students got addicted to smartphones. As per my observation, some students were joining the online classroom but simultaneously they used to play online games. Parents also did not pay serious and sincere attention during online learning. Students were found handling smart phones throughout day and night and it was the responsibility of concerned parents to take away digital gadgets from their children once online classes gets finished. This way child got addicted to social media, online gaming, online shopping, watching Bollywood / Hollywood movies etc. I remember one shocking incident dated July 7, 2021 when a teenage boy of Srinagar Kashmir committed suicide when his mother stops him from playing PUBG game. Such incidents occurred worldwide. We can count on both merits and demerits of online learning. Attending classes from anywhere is a major attribute to online learning but focusing on the phone screen for lengthy periods can damage our eyes. Flexibility and autonomy are some other chief tenets of online learning. In online learning, you can study whenever it is convenient for you but in traditional classrooms, we have specific schedules for teaching-learning process. No platform of learning can replace the position of teachers inside the classroom. However, such platforms can add colours to our classroom. It has been explored that digital gadgets if are being wisely used can enhance the academic achievement of students. To make online learning effective, it is suggested that Smartphone apps shall be locked except educational apps. Students shall enter the online classroom with a particular profile name. They shall wear a proper uniform during online classes so that they think they are for a particular reason here. Teachers shall enhance their digital literacy for the effectiveness of students. Exams shall be conducted offline by abiding SOP guidelines strictly. Government should provide free digital kits to needy students. School administration shall integrate education with ICT. I encourage readers to install the best featured educational apps on their digital gadgets for utmost development.
(The author is a student of Class 8th Genesis Tutorial Awantipora & Alchemy Public School. Views are his own)