Impact of COVID-19 on Education

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) hit the world very hard. First identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, home to some 11 million people, COVID-19 has become a pandemic in a short of span of 3 month. At the global level, it has surely caused a virtual shutdown of almost all economic; commercial and non commercial; and governmental activities. Where on one hand, air-travel, tourism, entertainment, and ride-sharing have virtually halted; on the other hand, the online meeting/teaching platforms, such as Zoom, Google classroom, Microsoft Teams; online gaming industry; or the online food delivery are still functioning properly[1]

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China implemented the largest online education practice in human history. In this process, different teaching models coexist. Online education is a hot topic that is of great concern in various countries today. In the era of mobile internet, countries around the world have made various effective attempts at online education. But online education is more of a supplement to school education. Schools and colleges are shut and students are at home, with limited contact with outer world and no physical activity. In India exams are conducted from March to May be it is boards, post graduate, undergraduate, or competitive exams  and almost all these have been postponed due COVID 19[2]. In response to the COVID-19 scare, many schools have moved online and parents seem to have assumed the role of teachers and are fast becoming savvy with resources created for home-schoolers to cause minimal disruption to their children’s education. Schools are also hubs of social activity and human interaction. When schools are closed, many children and youth miss out of on social contact that is essential to learning and development.[3]

Also, in comparison to on-campus classes, online classes are not seen as very effective for school-age students. Students from privileged backgrounds are more used to taking exams and assignments online whereas those who are socio-economically disadvantaged and without personal computers and internet at home, a problem arises. Faculties have been practicing lecturing with and without video, sharing clips and slides, and trying to keep their students interested by preparing in-class activities, group discussions, online polls and PowerPoint presentations to make them “more eye-catching”. But, the fact of the matter is that face to face teaching is more grasping and effective. Students are not able to grasp the content from this kind of learning where they are distracted by a lot of things they usually associate with home – stuff like gaming consoles. This is also proving to be disadvantageous to those who need practical or lab classes for science and medicine subjects. Although, e-learning has increased the imagination and analytical thinking among the students, there are technical difficulties adjusting to online learning. Sometimes, interactions online can be “quite weird” as some students prefer to turn off their computers’ cameras and microphones, leaving teachers to lecture to “black screens” for hours on end. Almost all parents are worried about their children’s health due to long usage of cellphones and computer devices. In the long term too there are some points of concern about physical and metal health. Reduced physical activity during this confinement can lead to weight gain, lethargy, reduced cardiorespiratory fitness, altered unhealthy diet patterns etc. Along with this, there is an impact on mental health as well – disturbed sleep pattern as prolonged usage of mobile phones, gadgets, online classes can lead to headaches and dizziness; changes in vision; irrational fear and anxiety; lack of creativity and interaction; frustration & boredom to name a few. Electronics, as many children experience, are today’s most pervasive threat: digital eye strain.[4] We’ve all experienced it—tired, dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck aches. And all it takes for this to happen is a couple hours of continuous use of electronics. When schools close, parents are often asked to facilitate learning at home and can struggle to perform this task. This is especially true for parents with limited education and resources. Schools are also hubs of social activity and human interaction. When schools are closed, many children and youth miss out on social contact that is essential to learning and development. There are several disadvantages of online education like duration of teaching online vs. face-to-face session, lack of developing social skills, network issues, additional ‘work’ for working parents, too many apps and technical issues, non-availability of teaching material and resources, distractions in home environment, prolonged screen time, inability of teachers to maintain discipline, etc.  Such teaching models should be designed that focus not only on students learning but also help them become independent learners. Moreover, teachers should brief students about the task, let them complete it and then discuss in the subsequent session. It should be one subject per session only. While devising lesson plans for online teaching, infrastructure issues, home environment, time-constraints and non-availability of resources should be taken into consideration. Students should be trained for using technology for educational purposes i.e., how to install an app, how to update and use, upload material etc. So that they perform their task independently or under the supervision of teacher, without relying on parents. This might be different in case of secondary and above level students as they are already familiar with technology but in case of primary students, they need proper supervision and mentorship with teachers needing to be trained on how to become an effective online teacher as it was observed that not all teachers[5] can handle online classes. Virtual studies is the best medium in current scenario to continue education and to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. The bigger challenge is education post COVID-19, will the traditional method of schooling and classroom prevail over the virtual classroom and how a lot of students whose parents lost their job due to this pandemic will continue their studies, students who recently got placement are scared to lose their jobs because of poor economic condition, student loans being a burden to students and their families are all factors that will affect education as the world knew it.

Thus, e-learning and online classrooms are best for the current scenario but the university and schools should reduce the burden of assignments and should also provide data recharge to students so that they can continue with their education .

[1] Times of India report

[2] Economics Times

[3] Ramadan, Syahrul . Covid-19: 9 Universities Are Now Conducting Classes Online.

[4] Does online learning work better than offline learning in undergraduate medical education? A systematic review and meta-analysis Leisi Peia and Hongbin Wub a Institute of Basic Education . 

[5] Singh, Raghu Naath and David Hurley. “The Effectiveness of Teaching and Learning Process in Online Education as Perceived by University Faculty and Instructional Technology Professionals 

Rima Surana from Amity Law School, Raipur, Chhattisgarh 

Editor: Sanskriti Sood

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