Written By Arushi S Goyal (Grade 8)
At 6:40 every morning I would board my yellow school bus and stare out of the window taking in the sights and sounds of Bangalore stirring to life. It was as ordinary or as boring as an experience can be for a teenager. I didn’t think much about it and sometimes even resented waking up so early. Until now. It has now been two and a half months since I last took that bus ride and I miss it. I miss it a lot. I crave for that banal experience of climbing into the bus, watch other parents wave bye to their children as they board the bus. I miss other things. I miss my friends, the walk from the classroom to the playground, the giggling and leg-pulling in the classroom, our conversations in the bathroom.
I am a middle years student who finds herself, in the middle of the paradigm shift in education owing to COVID-19. All our lessons have transitioned online overnight. I read numerous articles and watch various experts talk about the benefits of online learning but I am not too convinced about it.
The switch to online schooling has been very abrupt, messy and chaotic for both students and teachers. Along the way several challenges have risen, the largest being access to good Wi-Fi. How often has it happened that you are on a call and then the power goes out? Now imagine thirty kids on one call and every few minutes one child’s Wi-Fi stop working; think how many times a teacher will have to repeat herself to each and every student. This is very inconvenient and inefficient for both the student and the teacher.
Another thing I urge you to think about is the comparison in the quality of teaching. Since the switch was so sudden and unplanned teachers and students were not prepared for it. Before teaching in schools teachers went through an extensive teacher training program lasting almost two years whereas teachers had barely any time to figure out the skills needed to teach online. This has resulted in a poor user experience.
One other main point that tends to be overlooked while thinking about online schooling is the social interactions. In school, along with math and science children also learn valuable skills like, how to interact with people, deal with situations on our own and how to make friends. People often make strong bonds and friendships in schools and that is not possible with online teaching as everything is primarily done through writing.
Having online schooling can not only be ineffective but also bad for your health and wellbeing. The World Health Organization recommends only two hours of screen time per day and say ‘the less the better’; however online school makes this very difficult. During school days children can end up spending hours on devices which can be extremely harmful for their eyes.
Most people will argue that online teaching is more efficient and children learn better as they can study at their own pace. However, researchers have found that children do better in a more structured environment as kids get distracted easily. This kind of structure and discipline is hard to institute on an online platform, whatever it may be. Studies have also shown that a large part of learning is done through the senses, therefore it is crucial to make online learning as interactive as possible. Sadly, this is just not happening which makes the learning experience a lot less effective.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I am not completely against online learning. I believe that if done in an interactive and structured manner online learning can be a lot more fun and effective. Being a student myself, I am sad to say that these things are just not being implemented. So, before you completely agree with online schooling, I urge you to think of the consequences and effectiveness of an online school.
Originally Published in Medium
Featured Image Courtesy – Medium