When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the number of cases began to rise, the entire country went into lockdown. Educational institutions were the first to be shut down, and the situation was chaotic. Every student in the country was worried about their classes and their grades since they could no longer attend school. But a few weeks later online classes were implemented. Students and teachers could communicate through their devices. The current role that technology plays in education is a huge one. The idea of integrating more technology into our education system has been speculated for years, and it took an actual pandemic for us to see what technology-based learning would look like. The question which now arises is: Is this beneficial, and can we continue with such a technology-dependent system?
There are many advantages to online classes. Firstly, they are much more flexible than traditional ones. The most appealing benefit of online education is that students get to work from any place they want. They can create and manage a schedule which is much more beneficial for them. Many students are intimidated by the idea of speaking in public, and get anxious if they have to talk in front of large groups of people. Online learning makes it much easier for them to speak and present their ideas without having to look at tens and hundreds of faces.
Some people also think that online classes are cheaper since they don’t have to spend money on books due to the availability of PDFs, and reduced cost of transportation. They have more resources than before, and their learning is not limited to just one textbook. Moreover, online learning allows a student to learn at their own pace. In traditional classes, it was difficult for all the students to understand the lectures and follow the lessons. Now, a student can simply look back at recordings of their lectures if they wish to, and can even clarify doubts through live chats.
However, every coin has two sides. With the many advantages of online learning, come the disadvantages. In a country like India, where so many of our people are poor, not everyone has the resources to access online classes. Online classes are more favourable to those who can afford a good computer and steady Wi-Fi. Unavailability of devices and network issues can also prove to be a hindrance in the learning of the poor. Online classes tend to increase the communication gap between the students and the teachers, due to lack of any face-to-face interaction. Many teachers and students also find it difficult to familiarise themselves with platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Online classes have also lead to a major increase in the screen times of students. Long hours of being glued to your device can have adverse effects on your health like headaches and eyesight issues. Students are also finding it difficult to give examinations, which is why people were against the idea of online exams. There is also a high chance of distractions, and students can easily lose track of their studies.
This transition to online learning was not a smooth one and showed us that we are not ready for our education system to be more technology-based. If we are to adopt such a system in the future, then we have to make sure that each student in this country has access to the resources required for online classes. We also have to ensure that our dependence on technology doesn’t grow more than it needs to. A lot of changes are required before we can successfully integrate technology into our learning system.