“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” but what happens when these mirrors become shabby and blurry? How injection from technology is actually turning out as far as the ‘New Normal’ way of imparting education is concerned? The Optimist set out with a bunch of queries to the teachers who are actually facing the stormy winds, standing at the front line.
The shift from conventional medium of education to the online mode of education for taking classes, exams, projects has been one of the most-faced new normal situation of 2020. Consequences of the uncertainties have reduced with time, but how far is it feasible? How is it different from the conventional method of teaching? The education system has evolved from learning at Gurukul, which has witnessed the physical presence of both teachers and students, to Smart class system, which has hindered the conducting of profound discussions, student participation and mindfulness.
Moreover, in a country like India, the children in the remote areas are suffering from their inaccessibility to the means of online learning. “While being a part of an online teaching process, when I face technical glitches even for a few minutes, my heart goes out to the teachers and children who are facing the blows of digital divide and are, perhaps, getting isolated from the world of education and learning as well!” shares Saheli Ghosh, English Teacher at Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata. However, as suggested by Subhrajeeta Roy, English Teacher at Narayana School, Kolkata, every teaching-learning process has its pros and cons, “online mode of education has helped us to develop presentation even on subjects that are actually language like English, which was not practiced so frequently in conventional mode. Also, if my students were unable to understand, while I am taking the class, they can refer to the presentation any time, or next day in the class, so instead of repeating the whole class again, I could save time just by repeating the presentation.”
Every profession relies upon the aspect of job satisfaction and this online mode of imparting education has certainly failed to satisfy the emerging educators. “As a 21st century woman, I may be more tech savvy than my other colleagues who have been in this profession for years and are not accustomed to online mode of education, but I believe that conventional mode of education was much more comfortable and in near future, a combination of both these modes will help both the teachers as well as students”, adds Shalmoli Banerjee, English teacher at Shaw Public School.
Well, in every learning process it is the response from the students upon which the future of that learning dwells upon. It is an all-totally different process to which they trying hard to cope up with. Earlier, these gadgets, be it Mobile phone or tablet, were a source of entertainment for them, but now they stuck to them throughout the day. “Surprisingly, the students have adapted and accepted the
New-Normal-Learning way better than I had expected! I believe it is the impact of the generation being well adept with the digital world and technology. Their zeal and energy encourage me to push my limits and give my best even amidst difficult circumstances. There’s so much to learn from them!” mentions Saheli.
Addressing the growing concern of exploitation of these new means by students, Subhrajeeta says, “I strongly believe that Parents play an indispensable role in this online mode of teaching-learning process, their careful monitoring will definitely stop the students from misusing the loopholes of the technology.”
Thus, the future of education largely depends on the hands of the online mode of imparting knowledge. Speaking about the future of online mode as a medium of instruction, Saheli reminds The Optimist, of Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Fun they Had’. “It talks about a future where human teachers and classrooms are replaced by screen-learning and the past era of traditional classroom makes the children ironically think about how much fun it might have been, written in 1951. Well, Online Learning is here to stay for quite a while as even the post-pandemic days would need some time before things truly normalize and the impact of which depends on a lot of other factors – the developmental status of the country being one.”
But this New-Normal Learning way have had adverse effects on both mental and physical health of students as well as teachers. Back pain, with eye-sight issues combined with neuro-problems are some of the increasing physical health problems with this new mode of education. “I have witnessed many people who resigned from their job due to the continuous stress management they had to deal with, the mental pressure brought by this sudden shift becomes impossible to deal with. This process may be an eco-friendly one, but surely not health-friendly,” mentions Shalmoli.
In short, we have to adapt. Life has to evolve from different process across times, irrespective of the obstacles and as time flows, we need to focus more on the benefits provided by Online mode of education like its flexibility and accessibility, that shall help us to become comfortable with this system and find an alternative to make it a health-friendly system of imparting education altogether.