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E-Teaching : A New Normal

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E-Teaching : A New Normal
Challenges of online teaching

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, resulting in near-total closures of schools, universities and colleges (as shown in the figure 1 below). But education cannot be stopped under any circumstances. As a solution to this worldwide problem, UNESCO recommended the use of distance learning programs so that educators and teachers can reach learners remotely and restrict the disruption of education. There are several terms used today to describe e-teaching such as e-education, virtual education, online education, electronic learning etc. Online education has always been a core part of the educational system for many decades but Covid-19 has given rise to a new normal in all areas of life including the educational system. It is a turning point for this sector which is experiencing digital acceleration to adopt information technology as a teaching medium for 300 million students all over the world (Mehra, 2020). Online education is not just a temporary solution in the lockdown period but this will the roadmap for the future schooling.

Figure 1: Screenshot of interactive dashboard created by UNESCO.

Source: UNESCO (unesco.org)

Pandemic has forced everyone to shift from their status quo and accept the new change which is inevitable. Educational institutions had to change their mode of teaching, with the outbreak of COVID-19 (as depicted in the figure 2 below). Though it is not new but doing it on a daily basis has made it a new normal. Many Educational institutions started an online mode of teaching to run the system smoothly. Everyday teachers and students get ready in the morning for the class on the computer screen from their home.

Figure 2: Conversion of Face-to-Face Courses to Online or Virtual Formats Due to COVID-19

Now, the million dollar question is: Does it have any temporary or permanent impact on education system? Time will answer this. But as of now we have found a blend of pros & cons of this new version of e teaching.

Positive Sides of e-teaching

  • It has some great advantages over traditional teaching as it has more flexible working hours, opportunity to reach more students, re-usable online materials.
  • Students can enroll for online courses across geographies, and avail classes in distant places as well. They don’t need to incur travel and accommodation costs and hassles.. So it is cost effective for both students and educators.
  • Another benefit of e-learning is flexibility of timing. By enrolling oneself in an online course a student is free to access the course at his or her convenient slot.
  • Online teaching allows teachers to design state-of-the-art productive learning materials for different learning styles.
  • Educators can use multiple choice questions, ppt presentation, forums, audio files, short videos and other elements to help students prepare better for exams, and written assignments.
  • Students are more engaged with the learning materials and incorporating digital elements into the teaching plan helps students to understand easily.
  • Digital textbooks are more convenient and environment friendly.

Data reveals that in response to significant demand for online teaching, BYJU’S, a Bangalore-based educational firm has seen a 200% increase in the number of new students using its product for its online classes.

As the different countries of the whole world are switching to online classes for students, the question arises — are teachers are ready for this change? This rapid shift of all teaching activities being conducted in an online format as a response to COVID-19 was unplanned and teachers were immediately assigned with executing online learning modalities, often without sufficient guidance, training, or resources. 

Few Challenges:

  • Teachers have to become tech-savvy to find innovative methods to make e-learning more interesting. Teachers are putting in their best efforts to develop interest among students.
  • While teaching virtually, it becomes very difficult to understand whether a student is engaged with the lesson or is actually browsing their smart phones.
  • Senior and aged teachers are absolute novices to this new mode of teaching and are on a learning spree along with being educators.
  • E-teaching becomes challenging because of network issues, background noise during live classes.
  • It becomes difficult to track the students’ attentiveness during the online class and also gauge whether they are able to grasp the lessons or not.
  • Checking the subjective answers on screen strains our eyes and sometimes this becomes strenuous and a time taking task.
  • In a country like India, where most of the villages do not have electricity and larger section of the nation struggles to receive basic amenities, e-learning may not be an option.

Traditional   learning vs  online learning

There is no way we can compare the experience of learning within a class to learning online. Without a doubt, direct interaction, and eye contact during live sessions builds up confidence and helps in building a good rapport with students that cannot be replicated in online session. And this remains by and large true. Teachers and students together will have to build an affinity to create a positive learning environment. Whether good or bad, we have to survive with this online education system in the current situation and we have to accept this as the “new normal” of the education system, unless the situation changes. 

In conclusion…

Educators and teachers can easily access the wealth of tools, apps and platforms available online. It gives them the liberty to be just offline or use the online mode. A combination of the two allows for the best possible outcome. Online Learning pushes students to become more self-disciplined and self-motivated while offline mode of teaching provides the right dissemination of knowledge from teacher to students. Hence today’s education or teaching system must synchronize the e-teaching and the traditional classroom teaching and balance each other’s limitations.

References:

  • https://www.aacsb.edu/blog/2020/march/aacsb-quick-take-survey-on-covid-19-online-virtual-instruction-findings
  • https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/wp-content /uploads/sites/22/2020/08/sg_policy_brief_covid-19_and_education_august_2020.pdf
  • https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
  • Mehra, S. (May 2020). Can online education be the new normal. https://www.educationtimes.com/article/editors-pick/75575062/can-online-education-be-the-new-normal

Cathy Li,and Farah Lalani (2020). https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/ coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning

Kakali-Chattaraj
Kakali Chattaraj
Senior Physics Teacher

Kakali Chattaraj is a passionate teacher. She has been teaching Physics for the last 22 years in a missionary school in Kolkata as a Senior Physics Teacher.

She is a trained classical singer and enjoys dancing and reading. She is friendly but also firm with her students

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