In 2020, the sudden spread of COVID-19 made millions across the globe motionless. It was no longer the same competitive world we knew; rather it became a struggle for survival amidst the exasperating consequences of the invisible virus. The world of education had to be reformed overnight to accommodate the need to isolate. Teachers, many of whom had minimal technological awareness had to gear up and expand their knowledge with the limited resources they had at their disposal. “Online Classes” became the norm for over a year. Initially, it was a thrill for the students to sit at home and complete their education in their pajamas. Now, a year on, both students and teachers are itching to go back to ‘real’ school.
However, how has education changed during this phase?
2020 was a year of learning for every single individual. Teachers became students; they were expected to learn to teach online in innovative ways. They were expected to master online teaching, grading, homework etc., but these are just the technicalities of online teaching. Their main challenge was teaching the parents along with the children, clarifying their doubts and listening to their sometimes unthoughtful grievances with a smile.
Students on the other hand, were challenged to learn and understand through online classes. They have had to power through the many obstacles of isolation. The innately motivated learners are relatively unaffected in their learning as they need minimum supervision and motivation, while the vulnerable group consisting of students who are weak in learning face difficulties. Online education has further rendered vulnerable the most marginalized, with many struggling to obtain data packs and the others walking kilometres to get even one bar of network. A lesson delivered face to face versus online varies immensely. The physical presence of teachers and peers motivates students to discuss, develop their ideas and further enriches the learning process.
Man is a social animal. This natural instinct of man has been put to a high-level test during this pandemic. Isolation has inevitably led to depression, lack of concentration, frustration, anxiety etc.
This, along with the loss of loved ones has become a challenge for every teacher and student at an unprecedented level.
Despite 2020 being the year of so many challenges for individuals, educators, schools, institutes and the government regarding online education, there are several opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of online platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, virtual learning environments, social media and various group forums like Telegram, Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat have been explored and tried for educational purposes for the first time at all levels to continue education. This can be further explored even after face-to-face teaching resumes, and these platforms can provide additional resources and coaching to learners. One cannot fathom a better time to have switched to online classes than 2020.