Learning Through the Network, or a Network of Problems
By Rimi Nandy,
Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, Adamas University, Kolkata, India
The Covid-19 virus gradually spreads its fatal hand across the world. As the world comes to a standstill, the wheel of learning still continues to spin. Like the rest of the world, India too has declared a mandatory lock down. All educational institutes have been temporarily closed down. For the first time, Indian educators have been forced to migrate to a system of education which is no longer restricted to the classroom space alone. I am an Assistant Professor of English in the Department of English Language and Literature, School of Social Sciences, Adamas University, Kolkata, India. For our institute the teaching-learning process has always been a matter of priority. Therefore in spite of the temporal and spatial gap between the teachers and students, classes still continue with the help of the internet.
Online teaching with respect to India, has various benefits as well as drawbacks. In a time where I no longer have access to the physical classroom space, I look various other software platforms , which will enable me to connect to my students in an innovative manner. In my search, I have come across platforms like FlipGrid and Dotstorm, to name a few. I have also started depending on Google Arts & Culture application to provide my students with a different kind of learning experience. Apart from these, platforms such as YouTube, TedEd and Slideshare make my job as a teacher conducting classes, online much more easier.
In spite of the availability of such platforms for online teaching, as a teacher I face a few issues. The main issue being that India is still quite behind when it comes to the rate of Internet penetration. According to the 2019 survey the rate of internet penetration in India is restricted to a mere 40%. Therefore the ease of access to the internet is greatly limited.
The present generation of students are mostly digital citizens. Yet there are always a few students who are still unable to access desktops or laptops. For some students the internet is only available through the smartphones. Therefore as a teacher I have to look for softwares which are supported by mobile devices. Though most students are technically savy, it is not always easy to understand the functioning of all digital platforms. Most often the students are unable to connect due to low internet speed. Compared to the number of internet users, the bandwith is still insufficient.
Another difficulty according to me is the fact that the syllabus is structured for classroom teaching. To suddenly and rapidly shift to the online platform is not always possible due to the restriction of the syllabus. The students too find it difficult to cope up with the sudden change in knowledge dissemination. At the same time, I have observed an increase in the percentage of attendance in online classes compared to the traditional classes conducted within a physical space. The level of interaction among the students has also increased. The digital platforms has enabled a variation of a one to one teaching learning process.
On one hand education has become more accessible through online classes and on the other the access gets restricted due to economic or technological reasons. The main reason probably is the fact that India is comparatively new to the idea of online teaching. The educational institutes have also not received enough time for a planned approach towards creating a system of online teaching. However now that the online teaching mode has become inevitable, with time the students as well as teachers will get accustomed to a newer viewpoint and attitude towards education.
Department of English Language and Literature,
School of Social Sciences,
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