Illustration by Hasan Zaidi
Illustration by Hasan Zaidi

Indore: As classes became virtual and social engagement is limited, there is a major shift in education system which can have long-term effects and even revolutionise the education system. Studying-via-screen with the possibility of muting your teacher if she scolds is just an added plus for students.

Though only 27 per cent households have access to internet as shown in data collected by the National Sample Survey as a part of the Survey on Education, this small percentage is witnessing education in a reformed way, which could affect the entire education system in time.

There are many challenges to virtual classrooms and online education, but it is also an important way to continue textbook education and instilling independence in students.

Beyond the challenges of limitations and accessibility to virtual classes, a shift from saying no to screen to education via screen is a confusing situation for parents, teachers as well as students.

Teachers’ Take: Challenging and less effective, but necessary

“Continuity is important for students, so if we can help them revise and continue studying through any channel in these challenging times, it is a plus,” Kirti Sawlani, primary teacher, said. She added that teaching through screens is not as effective as teaching in person.

“For pre-primary and primary students especially, screen time affects their memory power and other development, so there are many cons to virtual classes,” Kirti said.

“Conducting classes online is equally challenging for us, as we have to engage students and gather them in a virtual world filled with diversions,” Harpreet Singh, high school teacher, said. He added that for senior classes, it will be very difficult to complete the syllabus without online classes.

“The ideal way of educating students would be to teach them at home through experience, but as per protocols, where we need students to attempt and score in examinations as well, online classes become a necessity,” Urmi Varlani, middle school teacher, said.

Parents’ Question: Virtual classes just for fee collection?

While some parents are happy that their child can continue studying at home, most parents are questioning the virtual classroom system as just a mode of minting money.

“Schools and now even coaching classes are running virtual classes, which forces students to sit in front of mobile/laptop for hours,” Jitendra Parwani, Indore parent association founder, said. He added that these virtual classes have affected eye sight and mental well-being of students.

“It seems that schools are just organising virtual classes to collect fee, because other than a few lesson, it is not beneficial for students’ health,” Parwani said.

“Due to lockdown, this time is difficult and stressful for parents and children, which is doubled by school’s homework and virtual classes,” Parwani said speaking on behalf of parents. He added that if virtual classes continue, then children are likely to suffer from various physical and psychiatric illness.

Students’ prefer offline classes

“Studying in school is much better than sitting at home in front of the laptop, because we don’t understand properly and it is not fun,” Lakshya Khatri, primary school student, said. He elaborated that spending hours attending classes then completing worksheets makes him often feel dizzy.

“I am in class XI, I understand that it is important to complete syllabus and study, but I get severe headache after virtual classes,” Jeraj Jain, student, said. He added that virtual classes are a saviour, because they can ask doubts from teachers.

Students’ prefer offline classes

“Studying in school is much better than sitting at home in front of the laptop, because we don’t understand properly and it is not fun,” Lakshya Khatri, primary school student, said. He elaborated that spending hours attending classes then completing worksheets makes him often feel dizzy.

“I am in class XI, I understand that it is important to complete syllabus and study, but I get severe headache after virtual classes,” Jeraj Jain, student, said. He added that virtual classes are a saviour, because they can ask doubts from teachers.

Syllabus completion or Education?

“Education is not just about rendering lessons from textbooks. When interacting in classroom, teacher engages with student with real-life examples and personalised approach to every child. We cannot determine how much a child has understood and learned in the class. Virtual classes are great for completing syllabus on record, but not education.”

- Sunanda Yadav, School principal

Teenagers’ mood, health & hormone taking a toll

“Due to virtual classes, children have become more irritable and are suffering from frequent headaches and eye strain. During teenage, when growth hormone is formed, students are already struggling with a difficult change. This is the time when sleep is really important, but due to hours of using screen, sleep pattern is disturbed. Improper sleep also affects digestive system. In long term, this can cause major hormonal disorders.”

- Abhyudaya Verma, Endocrinologist

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