Online class : Interpretation

Bineeta Pebam *

Online classes have become a common term recently and has gained popularity among all classes in the society. However, when it comes to the small towns and rural areas of developing and underdeveloped countries, the outcome of online teaching is pathetic. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the popularity of the online medium while the hindrances to the access to such an essential service is vastly ignored.

The failure in imparting education online during the pandemic is crystal clear. The recent re-emergence of Covid has compelled the schools to open to a limited section of students only. The kindergarten and primary schools are getting the severest of the blow and there is less satisfaction in the higher classes too.

In India, parents' ignorance about early childhood development also contributes to the failure of online schooling. Other huge drawbacks such as provision of good internet connectivity and affordability of smart phones and other compatible gadgets are limited to the geography and a section of economically privileged population only.

A large number of parents who are looking for kindergarten schooling belong to the economically sound families. Therefore, it has been observed that they can afford the smart gadgets compatible to online schooling and can also secure a moderate internet connection to facilitate the same. However, a good number of kindergarten schools have closed down during the first and second wave of the pandemic.

A new perception about home-schooling sprang up for children below 6-7 years but in vain. The reason behind the closing down of the kinder-garten schools may vary depending on the technical literacy of the school administration and the teachers' competency. The less inter-active and ineffective online classes led to a hike in the dropout rate in these schools.

Moreover, many parents stopped enrolling their children in the kinder-garten due to lack of early childhood development literacy. It is assumed that Online classes are worthless. This statement becomes true when the educators are not trained properly, not tech savvy and there is a lack inteaching and learning ma-terials which are essential for imparting education at kindergarten and primary level of education.

Parents, on the other hand, are also not tech savvy and are occupied with their jobs or household chores. A study on joining online classes with a hundred parents participation showed that 90% are unaware of how to use the platform via which classes are conducted. They found it difficult to learn the new technology.

More than 60% did not have email account which is essential in many of the online learning platform and nearly 20% of those who have, had forgotten the password thereby leading to chaos in starting the classes. Besides, parents, specially mothers, are supposed to keep monitoring the online classes. This includes controlling the audio-visual input as well as output during the class and guiding the child on how to attend the class productively.

This monitoring activity is sup-posed to be reduced within few weeks but many of the parents keep on interfering in the online classes hindering the child's learning process. On the contrary, majority of the parents are not able to keep up with the above mentioned short-term responsibility due to failure in time management.

Thus, the nature of joint family and nuclear family also is counted as a factor towards the failure of online classes. It is presumed that children cannot learn from online classes. This happens under two conditions.

While assuming that the educator is efficient, a child still fails to learn properly if the parent is overactive, overprotective, overbearing, too interfering or careless and do not take up the above mentioned short-term re-sponsibility properly.

Secondly, if the educator is not well trained, not well prepared, not tech savvy, does not have appropriate teaching-learning materials and not dedicated towards teaching, here also, the child fails to learn properly. Conducting eClasses via social media apps like WhatsApp by sending out class notes and home works is a perfect example of this condition.

The combination of the first and second conditions leads to the total failure in impart-ing education via online platform. There are plenty of ways to wipe away the Online classes are less interactive myth.

Here, the teacher has an additional responsibility of training the child on how and when to use the audio-visual buttons available in the compatible gadgets. Parents should also stop interpreting the instructions provided in the class to the child once he or she is settled in the online class.

The use of pictures, videos, extensive conversation, verbal question and answer sessions, on the spot activities should be included in the classes. Allowing a child to independently interact with the teacher online without any interference from the parents is key to success of online class.

An extensive training in this area to both the teachers and parents with a follow up for one month during live online classes has proven cent percent success in a study conducted in a kindergarten school of one hundred student strength.

Another whimsical idea that many parents have inculcated is that the child is too young and can wait for another year to start learn-ing. Learning happens step by step and each stage is vital for the overall intellectual development of the child. Be it by attending the online classes or by providing home schooling facilities, the child should be exposed to the necessary learning phases.

At the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a huge number of children who have never been to school or have skipped classes for almost two years during lockdown were brought to schools for enrolment. Not all the schools are ready to enrol them since they have not developed the necessary skills that will help them to learn and develop new skill sets.

Some of them are able to learn the missed skill sets through rigorous activities carried out at school and home simultaneously but this can make them hate school or study, or both. Many of these children are still facing cognitive development issues. Parents also think that schools are giving all the burden to the parents in online schooling.

This occurs only when the parents are interfering too much or not monitoring at all the online classes, considering that the teacher is efficient. The child should be able to listen to the instructions carefully; process and un-derstand the same, then, carry out the instructions provided by the teachers to a successful output.

In case of parents who interpret the instructions provided in the class, makes the child dependent on them. It is total interference in the teaching and learning process hijack-ing the child's right to independent learning. And those parents who are not at all monitoring the classes are not aware of the instructions on the other hand. This leads to inability in helping the child out when it is necessary.

In both the situations, the parents have to check on the activities and help the child in carrying out the task making themselves naturally lifting the burden of educating the child indirectly.

Some major instances that parents often do in the online classes are copying the class notes for the child, started interpreting every step instructed by the teacher, not allowing the child to interact by interacting on behalf of the child, telling the answer to the questions asked, instructing the child on what to write, writing by holding hands, scolding and thrashing the child, feeding or allowing the child to eat during the class etc.

These activities severely affect the intellectual development of the child in long term. To sum up all the ingredients of an effective online class, counting on the internet connectivity is vital. It not only affects the stu-dents but the teachers also have to bear the burden. Since the smooth online classes are based on good internet connectivity, the concerned area needs to be developed as well.

A well-prepared teacher and a willing to learn student get connected through a smooth flowing internet connectivity.

* Bineeta Pebam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Principal, Meraki Kidz, Garchuk, Guwahati-35
This article was webcasted on August 03 2022 .

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