A student’s take on the new reality of online classes
It has been eight months since I last walked on my school field. There are a myriad places and traditions you could associate my school with; the reason I choose the field is simple – it means the most to me out of all of them. Although I am commonly acknowledged as a swimmer, I admire the field so much because I had most of my best times at school there. You would almost always find me on the field, whether it be for football and athletics, during recess, or even sometimes – not to the knowledge of my teachers – during classes. Anyway, circumstances have now changed. Apart from school sporting events standing cancelled this year, the very mode of education has drastically changed. Online learning seemed the most suitable option and hence, that is what the world has adopted to ensure that our education isn’t hindered. This is an article on my opinion and experience with online learning over the last few months.
Since my teachers have got the hang of Zoom, they have been doing a good job at maintaining discipline during class. For any misbehaviour all they need to do is push a button and the student will be muted or removed from the meeting. When we need to ask questions or clear doubts, we virtually raise our hands (through a feature that Zoom provides) and wait for the teacher to acknowledge us. For exam answer sheets and very occasional homework, we take pictures of our work and email it to our teachers. This may seem like a handy system at first, but my school has an average of around 45-50 students in each class. It has become impersonal and non-interactive. Teachers used to find it hard enough to keep an eye on everyone and help them out when we physically attended school. With classes becoming online it is nearly impossible now.
For most of my batchmates and I, the school environment just cannot be recreated at home. I do not find myself always motivated to pay attention in class. Earlier in school, once I got there, I was stuck there for a good 5-6 hours and hence, found myself bound to comply with the rules during that time. It became a routine. Now the phone is always within grabbing distance, the Playstation controller is just on the other side of the room and the sofa seems to be calling out to me to take a quick snooze. With so many distractions and options for things to do available at home, paying attention in class seems to find itself subordinated. As most of us do not even keep our cameras on, we can simply just go about doing our own thing if we are uninterested in class. The very list of excuses for not keeping up with the class has increased tenfold.
With the limited time and restrictions at present, school now seems only to be associated with studies. Earlier there were special events and extra-curricular activities that we used to participate in at school. It is obviously impractical to continue with sports and certain other activities, but now almost all other aspects and opportunities you would associate with school seem to have come to a standstill. The skits, the plays, the fairs and fests, the clubs, the drives and awareness campaigns, the workshops, the morning assemblies, the messages from prefects, teachers and classes, all seem to be associated with the past. The school community spirit seems to have been dampened. Now all school seems to be is a monotonous sum total of 3 or 4 online classes a day. Although this ensures we continue to grow as students, it fails to continue to help us grow as human beings.
Like most students of my age, I was confused as to what I wanted to do with my future. I was not informed about the college preparation I ought to have started preparing for exams I should be taking outside of school (like the SAT) if I wanted to go to college abroad. I assume there would have been a lot of information and advice that I would find in school. But all this was sidelined as schools struggled to complete the syllabus amidst the pandemic.
However, fortunately for me, the situation also conferred some advantages. Admittedly school became harder, but that forced me to think outside the box and not to limit my learning to school. Through the plethora of online courses available I decided to pursue my interests. I also found the information and advice I sought to help me on my path to college. This taught me how it’s always your attitude towards a situation that determines the outcome and not the situation itself.