Online classes have become a reality for those of us with children in middle and high school. For a country that still hangs on to the pedagogical methods from the last century, moving to a virtual platform is indeed an enormous challenge.
But, the covid 19 pandemic, albeit an unfortunate catalyst, is pushing our demographically youngest-ancient country into the 21st century. Finally the newest generation can quit writing copiously and copying questions and answers from the textbook to the notebook. Or can they?
Let’s take a look at the effect of this change on different aspects of learning and by extension, on families.
Learning in isolation.
My daughter enjoys classroom learning, primarily because of the peer-teacher interaction. How would this change on an online platform?
For one, I expect a lot of glitches. Unless each family has high speed internet with stable, uninterrupted power (power outages are common in summer in every major city), expect disruptions in online classes, frozen screens, sudden loss of connections, inability to get your questions addressed within the session etc.
Time spent productively.
In my last article, I’d touched upon my homeschooling journey with my kid. One key takeaway from my experience in home education was that a significant portion of 7 hr instructional time is wasted in school. Teachers spent a good chunk of their teaching time in classroom management- getting students to settle (5-10 min), teaching a concept (15 min), addressing wayward students (5 min), clarifications(10 min)= 40 min. The content of a 40 min class in school can be safely covered in 10 min or less at home.
Expect your children to be done with their academics in 1/4 of the time it takes them in school.
Go deeper, wider.
The classroom is an interesting space. Most students are statistically average and fall within the middle of the bell curve. This is the demographic that a teacher constructs in her/his head to address. The ones at the ends- slower and faster than average, fall through the cracks.
Moving to a virtual platform gives this cohort the opportunity to go as slow or as fast they they would wish. Don’t be surprised to find that some children complete 220 (approx) days worth of science material in 4 months while others would possibly need more time.
Allow your children or students to grab this opportunity to spend as much time as required to understand a concept, idea, problem or task.
Access to resources
In a brick and mortar classroom, students are limited to the curricular material given by their teachers. If they have questions outside the lesson planned by the teacher, they are stuck with it until the teacher has time to answer it or until they get home and use their reference books.
But, virtual classes are different. Anyone who’s ever taken one knows to toggle between different screens to look for answers in real time or access resources not provided by course teacher. Its a luxury to be able to direct and control one’s learning and I suspect many students, especially those who have natural proclivity to self directed learning, will find the online mode a godsend.
Would going online reduce the exorbitant fees charged by private schools under the guise of “Tuition fees”? Having said that, many schools have decided to waive the first term fees for their students (more power to them).
But, a good number such as my daughter’s school, have levied the full unadjusted term fees (including transport).
I expect private unaided schools will try their very best to hold on to the regular fee structure and will not reduce it without a fight, despite the fact that teachers might not be paid full salary or overheads will be minimal/non-existent during the closure. Parents be warned, you heard it here first.
What has your experience been so far? How does your child/ren feel about online learning?
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