Educational institutions across the globe are seeking ways to adapt to the online teaching-learning environment
COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted education systems around the world. Not conducting face to face teaching – to avoid the spread of the disease- unless the deadly pandemic disappears or mitigates, has become a necessary evilwhile online teaching appears to be the only option available with us ; adapting to this non-traditional mode of education is proving a tough task in Jammu and Kashmir.
The pandemic has forced school closures in 191 countries; it has affected almost 1.5 billion students and 63 million primary and secondary teachers.
It is amazing and difficult to believe that the disease has forced governments globally to go for the internet mode of teaching, ensuring that education of students does not suffer to an irreparable level. Consequently, online teaching has replaced the traditional way; millions of students study through this mode now. Yet, it is in place to say that the idea of online teaching was knocking at the door right before the COVID-19 crisis having hastened the shift to teaching online. The government of J&K also has provided for online teaching for students from schools to colleges.
Although the road of online teaching is not smooth because both teachers and students go through many difficulties and bottlenecks to make maximum of a lesson delivery, it is noteworthy that majority of students in J&K, particularly of rural areas, have maintained distances from the new medium of education. At a certain school, for example, we have around 300 students on records; during the online teaching, some 2 to 15 students attend the class while in an actualclassroom, I would find around 250 of them in attendance. While some people may argue that at the school, the fear of suspension or attendance shortage might be a reason for the massive presence of the students in the class room,it is noteworthy that the lack of interest and passion by the students to adapt to online teaching is no small factor .
Among the major factors which can be attributed for the low attendance of students for online teaching, is the mind-set. The students and a majority of parents are of the opinion that the government will go for ‘mass promotion’ of students as has been the case in the recent years due to volatile political situation in this part of the world. Yet, some students and parents do see that the studies do not suffer at any cost. looking forward to mass promotion, we see students roaming around , enjoying trips and playing while their parents do not seem to bother at all for the big blow which ‘no - study- approach’ is dealing to their children’s education.
The all-important message that the unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19 has sent across, has led to a dramatic change in the format and manner of education. No longer do we see classroom teaching now; online teaching has taken the center stage, at least in the present situation. Granted that, it is somewhat difficult to adapt to it but we have no other choice. Educational institutions need to buildtechniques and infrastructure to help students adapt to online teaching. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated a prominent change in our lifestyle, behavior and learning mechanism and in future it will alter the employment prospects as well; our education system needs to adapt to the change.
Now educational institutions- across the globe- are seeking ways to adapt to the online teaching-learning environment. The education department of J&K is not behindin offering this new line of teaching. We have now thousands of students studying online with their teachers leading from the front. However, teaching online faces certain road blocks, chief among them is the problem of connectivity. In rural areas, connectivity is very low and the students often complain of no reach to the online platform. Most of the students do not possess smart phones, computers or laptops at home which disables them from benefiting from the internet based education. The UN cultural and educational wing or UNESCO has revealed that half of all students currently out of the classroom – or nearly 830 million learners globally -- do not have access to a computer. Additionally, more than 40 per cent have no Internet access at home.
Despite these hindrances, our students have potential to adapt to online teaching so that they stay connected with the formal system of education and as a bonus realize the importance of working hard to achieve something valuable; the students easily adapt to coaching during the harsh winter conditions and are seen at coaching centers even on empty stomach; nothing prevents them from reaching the coaching centers.
Our students do not find it tough to adapt to sitting for exams during cold wintery days. They are seen at exam halls much ahead of the scheduled timing and conduct themselves favorably at the exam centers despite the unfavorable conditionsaround.
This spirit of adaptability is expected to help our students take to online teaching so that they, their teachers and the wider society is safe from COVID-19 while their education continues uninterrupted. One good step is to continue studies, leaving out the idea of mass promotions; two, a smart phone or a computer can suffice for about six students at a single place. Three, parents need to take education seriously.
Robert Frost in his poem “The Road Not Taken” uses road as a symbol for a choice we make in our life – the choice which impacts our future. We have a choice in the shape of online teaching; should we take it or not take it? The choice is ours.