The Covid-19 pandemic, as any other pandemic has brought in lots of destruction in its wake. It has shut down economy and lives alike. Meanwhile, it has also brought in the long over-due revolution in the field of education. The transformation is as sudden as it is dramatic. Close to 90% of all schools, colleges and other educational institutions have shut down overnight and the learners are no longer able to physically attend classes and sessions. There has been varied responses as to how the educators tackled the problems that came along with the shut-down of the institutions.
The most common emergency remedy were online classes, recorded classes and sharing of reading materials. Those with a solid technological practice and trained staff, also given that the students have access to connectivity and devices have been able to continue their activity with minimum problems, while others have simply done the best they could to keep up. However, one thing is clear. What seemed like an emergency situation has become the norm now. Everything online and live is the norm now and this change is permanent.
A teacher role is very much important but not necessary. Personalization of learning can be considered one of the positive outcome of the pandemic. Many prefer to study and pursue knowledge on their own, at their own pace, diving into books and with the technology progress and opportunities available now, students are at liberty to opt for that. Instead of being at school and colleges physically that, for most of time, drains out students’ passions, limiting them to only academic courses, the stay-at-home model is more relaxed giving a chance for creativity to blossom.
The breakthrough in this new education system would be the diminished focus on “memorizing answers” and attempt exams based on that. The online new scenario with unlimited information has helped us to realize the defects in the exam-based systems that encourage knowledge retention. Textbooks are not the sole information provider now. The devices and mobile phones are no more the taboo. This has, however, also raised the bar of requirements for entry to education; these challenges will be something for the government and institutions to take care of in the forms scholarships, grants etc.
Traditional and campus-based education was very well never considered good, if not bad, even before the pandemic. Many universities were seeing declines in enrolment for campus-based programmes. Meaning many took up the same courses online. What seemed a threat, is a friend now. The stressful situations in no way can be denied but it has fashioned a change in education that has always been welcomed but not brought in.
The unprecedented focus on marks with the universities setting up unrealistic cut-off was the constant reminder of how broken our education system was, but who was to speak it out? “The fox and the sour grapes” was the common story to shut down allegations towards the pre-existing system. The science courses are put on pedestal and society celebrates students with a degree in the science stream.
The pandemic has played a role in reducing the importance of exams and hence bringing in a breath of relief and fresh air to the students. Hopefully, the new education system introduced in 2020 will furthermore provide changes for the betterment of everyone. The new system seeks to eliminates all streams and allows students to pursue their “pole-apart” interests.
Meanwhile, one cannot deny the importance of interaction between fellow peers and students can learn a lot from being in the company of their peers. There are minimal interaction possible in the online classes which often results in a sense of isolation for the students. It has also become a health issueas students spend so many hours staring at a screen. This increase in screen time is one of the worrisome issues of online learning. The key challenge is the internet connectivity. Without it, students are rather left in despair and this disrupt the learning experience for the learners as a whole.
Some State governments have been working with media partners such as Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), in an effort to include students and learners deprived of internet connectivity and necessary devices. The media partners have taken on the responsibility of broadcasting virtual classes and educational content through their regional channels. We are stimulated for utilizing resources that were never initially put to thought. These are also benefitting visually impaired students.
The process of imparting of education as we knew, has underwent radical changes and it is also for society to move on from the ways of the past and embark on a journey that is crystal clear in accommodating and respecting differences.
Visuals by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah
Article by Medeline Terangpi, The North-Eastern Chronicle