School and college students are perforce having to study online due to the constraints of the lockdown. Teachers and lecturers are undergoing a pedagogical transformation as they negotiate the intricacies of computer and internet technology to communicate with their students in the virtual world. It is a whole new environment where the first victim is the spontaneity and immediacy of the classroom. Of course, internet speeds and availability of broadband is a major shortcoming in many rural as well as remote mountain areas. But, it has to be done and everybody is struggling to adapt – the outcomes will become known only later.
Doordarshan has begun online classes in Uttarakhand for school students and it is definitely more accessible, except of course for the fact that there can be very little interaction. However, even a cursory glance at the quality of the teaching on this platform leaves the viewer stunned. One science teacher could be seen presenting information in the context of how much weightage it would get in the exam! A teacher was teaching the intricacies of English unable however to speak a single sentence grammatically! Should it not be obvious to the Education Department that the very best teachers should be taking these classes, or are these the best they have? That would be sad, considering the Seventh Pay Commission salaries and all the perks they get as government employees. There certainly are extremely good teachers available – if even in the private sector – and the present circumstances should serve as an opportunity for students that would otherwise not be able to benefit from their teaching, to do so now. In fact, this arrangement could be made a permanent feature as value addition to normal classes in school.
Of course, students with internet access need not depend at all on these teachers. If they are aware of their syllabus, they can take advantage of excellent teaching and lectures on platforms such as YouTube. And, unlike in the classroom, they can pause and rewind if they wish to understand better. There is a lot of content online that is freely accessible and more up to date, perhaps, than what is taught in the schools. All the students need to do is ensure they remain within the broad parameters of their syllabus and, occasionally, interact with their own teachers for confirmation and clarity. Many students have already been taking advantage of formal internet classes via apps and websites but, now, after the present crisis, it may become a general practice.