Experiences of Students learning online during lockdown
The novel COVID-19 outbreak left its mark on almost all spheres of life, including education. While technological advances allowed education to continue online, it is worth exploring what students across different levels feel about this change, even as attempts are being made to reopen educational institutions in a phased manner. Speaking to students and getting their feedback about online learning from across the world threw up some interesting points:-
- Bypass attendance and assessment:- Irrespective of the learning platform, many say that students log-in at the beginning of the class and then move away to watch YouTube videos or play games or chat with friends. As a result, they do not gain anything from the classes. One student points out that even online exams are not foolproof. “While many take it seriously, some have tried to cheat and then share it in their peer groups,” he says, adding that online classes cannot replace a real classroom environment.
- Physical discomfort:- Given the long hours spent before the screen, either on a tablet or a smartphone, students are beginning to report ear and eye strain and also body pain. Depression and stress related illnesses have also become common. While many report to being stressed by the online approach, A high school student, Ganesh points out, “People can’t share their feelings or express themselves in the way they used to before.” This, he says, leads to feeling low mentally.
- Lack of socialisation:- An online education that lacks the social aspect of learning cannot be expected to be as effective as traditional classes. After close to nine months of a single mode of content delivery, students confess to being bored with online education. One student likened it to “a lion being confined to a small space in a zoo”. Most students would prefer a return to the offline mode of learning or at least a blended approach.
- Teachers under stress:- Teachers have experienced tremendous stress due to the online mode of education. First, the preparation time has almost doubled. Second, teachers believe that the students do not take their instructions seriously. Teachers now have to call each student to remind him/her to submit assignments or to appear for assessments. “Online classes do not provide enough variations for the teacher to innovate,” believes Kolkata (India) based Simran sharma. Many miss the physical interactions and socialisation with teachers and their peer groups.
Student’s Responses around the globe:-
No extracurricular activities:- Most college students begin to understand, value and internalise the institutional ethics and traditions only towards the end of the first year. This helps them build a strong affinity and connect with their institution. This is now not possible with online learning. Further, sports and cultural clubs have not had an opportunity to function during this year. This has meant that students have not been able to experience college life at its best. Some students feedback about online learning are as follows:-
- Ramanujam, a student in West Bengal (India) preparing for UPSC exam and wanted to become an IAS officer – pursuing online classes offered from Chennai, felt that this period gave him an opportunity to develop basic skill sets to enhance his competency.
- Rachna from Odisha (India) also wants to crack UPSC exam, thought that. “The positive effect of attending online classes is that we know a lot more about information technology, various apps and programmes.” Apart from academic learning, technological learning too has gained importance during this lock down period.
- Nathan from France felt that the lack of physical contact has made people “dull, lazy and inactive. Everyone has become addicted to smartphones and electronic gadgets.”
- Benjamin from São paulo (Brazil) concurs with. “The virtual walls have curbed our social and cultural lives.”
“Names of students have been changed on request.“
They point out that interactions with classmates from diverse backgrounds led to different kinds of learnings about culture, traditions, and food habits, which are lacking now. Sonam rajput, a student from Delhi University, confesses that she now realises how not being able to socialise with his peers has affected her adversely. Others fear that lack of opportunities to socialise with their peer group and other age groups can have serious repercussions on an entire generation.
Some general tips on, how can you stop using the Internet so much ?
- By practice self-control: Block out distracting websites and Social Media for a set amount of time.
- Time Out: Remind yourself to take regular breaks to keep your focus sharp.
- FocusBooster: Focus on single tasks and limiting your activity related to internet use.
- Think and Concentrate: Limit your attention to a single application at a time.
- Become a Focus-writer: Create a distraction-free environment for writing.
- Be an anti-Social Media: Instantly block all the social websites that are wasting your time.
- Stay Focused: Curb the time you spend browsing time-wasting sites.
- Be more outdoor: Choose outdoor activities over technology
To sum up – At school, students learn how to make friends, be patient, get rid of disappointment, and especially to compete. Competition between colleagues can be very stimulating and students will only benefit from it. Online learning cannot offer human interaction. However, online education reduces the negative environmental impacts that come from manufacturing and transportation. This reduces waste and conserves natural resources. Additionally, online learning saves money and time for both the learning institution and the student.
This article is brought to you by – Shikher Goyal, (Founder of Digitally learn)