Is the online teaching mode a worthy substitute for the offline teaching mode?

“If we want to reach real peace in this world, we should start educating children”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Pandemic times are desperate times for the people everywhere in the world. The vicious disease disrupted not only the social life of individuals but it also destabilized the mental peace and well -being for many. The sudden shutdown following the virus outbreak has brought about several changes around the globe. One of the most significant change among them is the shift from offline teaching mode to online teaching. In a country like India where a large section of the population still has not got access to the basic digital devices, the adoption of online education was highly experimental. But, the realization that “better to have something than not having them at all” led the government to take this giant step.

Online learning mode is the need of the hour because it helps to ensure productive usage of time by the younger generation who otherwise would have lost the purpose of life during these desperate ages. In the present scenario, stepping out of the houses is considered extremely dangerous and online learning provides children an opportunity to widen their knowledge within the safety of their houses. The availability of several platforms which provide access to certified courses from universities around the world is an added advantage. Widespread access to knowledge without any boundaries has helped the students to choose their area of interest rather than sticking on to the limited scope of school curriculum. The provision of recorded classes either at free of cost or at negligible costs help students to upskill themselves without stepping out from their comfort zones. Online repositories and digital libraries also make the scope of online learning mode wider.

            Even though online teaching has got all these wider applications, it is subject to some limitations. The most significant limitation is that it is devoid of the physical presence of teachers and students, which reduces the effectiveness of the process to a great extent. The increasing number suicides among student population brings out the fact that virtual learning fails to provide psychological support, which the traditional schooling structure offers. As the students do not have the opportunities for relationship building, most of them lack social skills. Tests and examinations conducted in online mode is more like a test of honesty and self-discipline than tests of knowledge. Digital divide and socio -economic inequalities further worsens the problem. Among primary level students, parents play a more important role than teachers in case of online learning, which increases the disparity as many adults are still illiterate and incapable of supporting their children in our nation. Apart from this schools also functioned as a means for implementing social security schemes of government like mid-day meal scheme which got disrupted.

            The offline learning could easily cover up all the above stated limitations of online learning. The presence of teachers and friends will make the learning experience lively. Rather than imparting knowledge it lightens up the wisdom among younger population. It teaches students to face failure, the worth of sharing and to care for their fellow beings. The educational institutions play an important role in shaping the character of each individual because they function as a living library where we could see a wide range of individuals from whom students could adopt moral values for life. It also helps teachers to ensure that children have understood what they have taught through regular tests. The schools narrow the gap between rich and poor and ensure all are getting equal access to education through government support.

            Right to education is a fundamental right as per Indian constitution. Pandemic should not be an obstacle in ensuring that right. Thus, online teaching mode could be used as a supplement for facilitating access to education, but not a substitute. Idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Online mode of teaching helps to ensure that students are not left idle during the pandemic times. It could lend a hand for lifting children from the helplessness and despair created by the disease. This brigs to the conclusion that online teaching could be adopted to meet the current needs but not as a substitute for offline teaching. Ultimately the aim of education is to uplift the students from the darkness of ignorance by shedding the light of knowledge.

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