Juggling in the New Normal: Surviving the Complexities of Online Teaching
Covid19 entered our lives like a nightmare. Within a few months, it took the contour of a pandemic and pushed the world to stay inside their homes. Our fast-paced lives came to a standstill. Even necessities observed difficulty in accomplishment. Nearly every sector saw a downfall. In such a scenario, one of the most bumped sector was Education. With the encumbrance of countrywide lockdown in March 2020, educational institutions like Universities, Colleges and Schools encountered a new kind of challenge – “Continuation of learning without the presence of physical classes“. To ensure this, various platforms like Google Classes, Google Meet and Zoom became handy. These tools were completely new to teachers. Despite no prior expertise and additional formal training in online teaching, teachers familiarized themselves with these e-learning technologies on their own. This was to ensure successful and stable functioning of education and training. But it’s not as manageable and smooth as it sounds. Even today, despite three months of rigorous practice, some complexities and challenges continue to prevail in the execution of online classes. The major challenges transpiring in the conduction of online classes are highlighted below.
Loss of Mutual Respect:
On virtual classes, students sometimes access the link to the class with various IDs (sometimes with the same name and many times with other weird names). Students take screenshots of teachers and others to create memes and share these on social media platforms to humiliate or to make fun of the target. It impeaches the security and privacy of an individual. On many occasions, students share derogatory images and abusive content in the online classes since they can join from multi or ambiguous IDs. It becomes hard to trace the actual source and therefore, the management also faces difficulty in taking proper action against such students.
Poor and Unstable Connectivity:
Poor connectivity is one of the most difficult challenges faced by both students and teachers. This hampers the delivery as well as a semblance of a lecture. Students miss important information and this needs repetition by the teacher, ultimately resulting in consumption of more time and efforts. Due to poor connectivity, students keep trying to connect to the class for hours but fail to attend the complete class. Connectivity is also the most commonly used excuse to escape classes by students. Many students also use this as an excuse to escape work allotted to them.
Loss of Emotional Connection:
In physical classrooms, the emotional exchange and connection between a student and a teacher always played an important role in developing interest in classes and this seems to have faded away in online classes. Facial expressions, gestures and bodily movements find no place in online teaching. The exchange becomes robotic where the teacher keeps speaking and the students (without being active receptors) keep sitting behind their screen and listening to the lecture.
Loss of Class Environment and Discipline:
In physical classrooms, there’s a defined posture and place to sit while attending a class which isn’t followed in a virtual classroom. The teacher gets distracted at times finding that the student is not properly dressed or postured (i.e. lying on the bed, walking around the house, eating during lectures etc). These issues are commonly visible among students of classes eight and above.
Loss of Punctuality:
During physical lectures, students are usually late for the first lecture but are present on time for the remaining lectures. But, in online teaching, despite having the flexibility to join the class with just a click on the link, it’s being observed that students don’t turn up on time. They keep joining and leaving in the middle of a class. Some students join just before the class ends using connectivity issue as an excuse or befalling some urgency.
Loss of Reliability:
Many Universities, Colleges and Schools took tests and even final exams through online mode which didn’t turn out very fruitful. Many students genuinely faced a lot of Network and other bugs while many created unnecessary chaos over online exam conduction just to get exempted from the exams. But on a large scale, it was observed that the answers uploaded or submitted by them weren’t reliable, as most answers were just copy-pasted. This poses several questions on the pattern of the examination conducted by our education system – What’s the need and benefit of exams? What should be the model to conduct exams? The answer to these questions should be drafted keeping in mind that exams should test how much students have grasped from the lesson taught and not to test the rectification level of the student.
Keeping aside the difficulties, teachers continue to cope and balance the challenges of online teaching that they face amid this pandemic. Teachers, of all age groups, have accepted and successfully overcome the initial challenges that arose in the path of imparting education and have been trying to sail through in the ongoing times. The way teachers have dealt and still dealing with this new challenge of online teaching can be spun as “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”.
Assistant Professor, Jaipur National University, Jaipur, India
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