As an immediate measure to stem the spread of Covid-19, most educational institutions have been shut since the end of March. It is still difficult to predict when schools, colleges and universities will reopen. There are few options other than to shift to digital platforms from the traditional face-to-face mode of classroom learning.

SURVEY CONDUCTED BASED ON MAJOR CHALLENGES FACED BY STUDENTS

The major challenge of remote learning is disparity in access – from electricity and internet connections to devices like computer or smartphones.

 

Access to electricity is crucial for digital education, both for powering devices as well as for connecting to the internet. While the government’s Saubhagya scheme to provide electricity to households shows that almost 99.9% of homes India have a power connection, the picture is less luminous if we look at the quality of electricity and the number of hours for which it is available every day.

Learning over coverage

Merely moving classrooms online would not mean effective remote learning. One-to-one interactions among peers and teachers are very important for learning. On a digital platform, how students learn and communicate with others is largely dependent on the readiness of both teachers and students to accept digital learning. In the case of distance education, the onus of learning is more on students, which requires discipline.

Learning demands a conducive environment for study. However, not all students have a quiet space for learning at home. While 37% of households in India have one dwelling room, it would be a luxury for many to attend lectures in an undisturbed environment.

The students are also complaining about internet connectivity. Many students claimed that poor internet connectivity is making the teaching-learning process a challenge. While talking to the media, a third-year student revealed, “With so many people using the internet to work from their homes, most of the students are totally dependent on mobile data for online classes. Since there are bandwidth issues, it is practically impossible to attend classes online and expect us to score good marks.”

Not just students but teachers are also finding it difficult to teach and explain many concepts virtually, admits a professor of an engineering college in Bengaluru. Talking about the prevailing issue, the Vice-chancellor of VTU, Karisiddappa said, “It is a problem that is not peculiar to our university alone. The State government and the UGC need to take a decision for all universities.” Meanwhile, the students have also started this online campaign urging the varsity to promote them without evaluation.