With optimistic resolutions, hopes and plans of roaming around, exploring new places, excelling academically, we all welcomed 2020. But then came the day which changed our lives completely. We all welcomed lockdown as an additional vacation and thought that it would end soon, but fate was different. Covid came and never left our lives, it is now just a part of us.
When the whole country was distressed about the lockdown, one section was most satisfied with it: students. The news of closing schools and colleges brought counterfeit contentment with it. Who knew that this lockdown will change our study pattern completely. As the urge for social distancing increased, the emergence of online classes took place.
- Is online education really feasible?
Notebooks and pens got replaced by laptops and phones and the internet became a necessity (which is still inaccessible to many students in parts of our country). Not only internet, but smartphones and laptops still cost an arm and leg for many students and thus make them unaffordable. Due to which students had to drop out abruptly in the middle of the session, dropping India’s literacy rate by 2% in 2020.
Does this mean that we can’t have online classes? The answer is- No, even with so many difficulties, students who really wanted to study, managed to join the classes either through cyber cafe or by borrowing devices or by buying new devices through donations. Many organisations and individuals gave their best to make sure education never stops for the bright minds of our country.
- Was the pandemic really fruitful with online learning?
Although online classes have made it possible to learn things theoretically, is only theoretical knowledge without any practical knowledge sufficient? If you are a btech student then do you really think your btech is complete without doing any technical work practically and just watching simulations?
Besides the lack of hands-on learning, screen time of students increased so much that it affected eyes, back and overall body posture. Sedentary lifestyle became so common that it led to increased cases of obesity and thus higher risks of having high blood pressure, diabetes and other lifestyle complications.
Not only physical illness, this pandemic also brought mental distress along with it. Lockdown brought a lot of leisure time for us which increased overthinking and cases of depression increased. A constant pressure of completing unlimited assignments, surprise tests, regular long hour online classes was given by institutions.
Although one best thing that online tests did was better grades and marks but no knowledge and zero experience. Now even without much input, students tend to score better which puts them in shallow confidence that will hamper the future of not only students but of the nation as whole.
- Has covid affected teachers ?
It has also affected the teachers as they are struggling to learn new concepts of online classes. They had to learn to adapt and operate an online class and try to make concepts clear to students while managing cameras along with their board and pen.
They had to juggle between making notes, uploading them online, and making them available for students. While students got more liberty to speak anything behind the camera which made it more difficult for teachers to manage and caused mental breakdown for many teachers.
Yet, many teachers pulled up and took the classes so that the future of students doesn’t get affected. They are and always will be the backbone of our society.
- Were teachers’ efforts really worth it?
With just a digital screen in between, this scenario of online classes created a huge gap between what teachers wanted for us and what actually happened. Many of us never took online classes seriously. We never heard lessons properly and jotting down became a thing of the past. Having snacks in classes, taking naps and listening attentively only at the time of attendance became a new guilty pleasure for most of us.
But in the long term it affected us in such a way that now we don’t even know how to actually fit in the society. So, yes it was worth it if only you weren’t scrolling through your phone while the teachers were taking lectures.
- Are virtual connections better than real ones?
As we are becoming more and more comfortable with the virtual world, the real world now seems to be more far away from us. The communication gap that was already there has now increased. Youngsters now prefer to talk virtually either through texts or video calls. This has affected the innate ability of humans to sense the security, safety in the environment.
Although real physical conversations have reduced, it has also given us the chance to connect to anybody around the world with just a few touches on a screen.
- How were the institutes affected?
Perpetual shifting of exam dates brought persistent anxiety and constant pressure to prepare for those exams which lead to a long period of setback for both students as well as institutes. Standardised testing and school admissions are being delayed across the country. Few states have opted to cancel or delay standardized testing, while others are thinking of extending the school year due to delay in commencement of the academic year and many missed days of school.
While many institutes have already come up with proctored and AI enabled exams to check on usage of unfair means while exams are conducted.
- Is there any ray of hope?
This lockdown has affected students adversely and the gap between bright and mediocre students has increased. Average students who really needed teachers’ guidance lost it and dropped below average.
However it has also encouraged us to introduce new approaches or to take actions to lessen the impact and to bring it to a minimum. Each student can now learn at their own preferred pace with hours of self-study time available everyday.
- Has lockdown worsened everybody’s situation?
Yes it is true that many of the students had an unfortunate effect but those with a positive mindset and persistent hard work excelled during this time as well.
E-learning overcomes geographical barriers and ensures unbiased access to education. It also facilitates convenient, quick, on the go and 24×7 access. Numerous ed-tech firms have seeked this opportunity to offer lessons in an interesting and engaging way to students. We still have the opportunity to learn through free as well as paid online courses.
Many people start to give and take online workshops to share the skills that they have with everyone. Many flourished more and developed new skills within them. A lot of people polished their hobbies like dancing, drawing, singing, etc and even started to earn from their online businesses.
Different sections of society came together and helped others by taking special care of students and old aged people that were suffering from anxiety or depression. Youngsters started to be with family more often, learned values, ethics and their own family traditions.
To conclude I would say that most of us are going through such a situation for the very first time so it’s okay even if we are not able to cope with it in a productive way. It is absolutely okay to feel sad or have a bad day or a week or even a month. But what’s not okay is to give up, NEVER GIVE UP.
Yes we should take a break for a day or however long you want to and come back to our desks even stronger and start afresh. Even the tiger takes two steps back before attacking. Afterall, ‘where there is a will there’s a way’ and we youngsters certainly have it in us to beat these tough times.
Editor: Sharmistha Dey
Visual Content: Amit Abhishek
Ritika is a Food Technology student at Shoolini University. She is bold, cheerful and highly enthusiastic which makes her an integral part of the team. One of her many interests is writing and that’s what got her to Panorama361.