In the wake of Pandemic and lockdown, all institutions either be academic or jobs have gone virtual. The reputed institutions like IITs, NLUs had completely gone virtual in their first-year classes. In this truncated article, I discuss the Covid-19 impact on National Law School life. It deals with my personal experience of thirteen months in one of India’s top ten National Law Universities. The rhetorical questions arise in between. Are the two-year fees justified in paying for online classes and materials, can the time and moments of initial college days held virtually come back to our life in-person and are there more pros or more cons to online studies?
It’s the fourth semester of my virtual law school life since 26th October’20 in Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur. After the numerous delays in the entrance exam due to a pandemic that caused psychological or emotional issues. I survived the pandemic and finally got to attempt and cleared the (Common Law Admission Test) CLAT exam for a five-years undergraduate law course.
After the online counseling process got over, we got our HNLU official ids, currently used for the sole purpose of daily online classes and submissions of assignments. We got access to Cisco Webex video conferencing links for the six days a week online class (indeed the only thing justified in paying for the first-four-semester fees, an online subscription course for two-year).
Even our college new batch orientation (literal meaning ‘get together’ which was ironic for us) was held virtually. And all other information sessions were also held in the same way within a month’s duration. Hence, we got to know all about the college virtually. That was, infrastructure, a campus of residence, mess, moot court and so on which in actuality is only sensible in the physical starting of the college.
The excitement, joy, fear, and anxiety of entering college from school and getting to meet people from different regions of India as part of a National Law School. I am sure that introverts would be elated with the first-year online classes and extroverts, contrasting to it.
MOMENTS CAN’T REVERT BACK IN OUR WHOLE LIFE
The initial or natural feeling in terms of academic up-gradation, leaving your home to stay at the hostel for the first time, being the most junior batch in the hostel and college has been actually missed. That initial emotion for the ‘time and moment at the beginning of college’ can never come back in our life. We, at HNLU, started our online classes sincerely for thirteen months to the present.
However, virtual live classes or pre-recorded lectures were challenging as they demanded more of students, who had to take an extra effort to understand what was happening. Besides this journey, the most important thing was that we get to know thyselves much better during our studies. Though we can learn more independently as per our own curiosity.
PROS AND CONS
There are both pros and cons to online studies. The pandemic severely disrupted everyone’s lives and led a lot of people into extreme poverty. It skewed learning as well. For instance, people having no computer or even no internet connection at home, contrarily as well no teacher training on online teaching, had suffered in virtual classes.
For the first time in the history of law school, law students spend whole one and half-year classes, now about two, in front of the non-living screen. In the meantime, we were assigned five mentors for every four groups of students. But again we can only communicate through social media or phone calls. This ultimately did not help in the overall improvement (psychological and academic touch is more fruitful through physical interaction with either professors or mentors) and caused a lack of implementation in our daily activities.
Nevertheless, I tried to the best of my ability to keep myself occupied, and wrote for various publications, did online courses, and joined workshops like the IDIA. The overall virtual experience was supportive of the university especially during the weeks and months of lockdown. Our students received various emails from the Professors, Head of Departments (HODs), and the Vice-Chancellor itself regarding the work being done. To give their best possible effort and ensure the utmost learning experience during these unprecedented times.
As summarized, we understand within the past few months that online learning could be a key part of a university learning experience for many students and institutions. Without it in the inevitable situation, things could not have worked out and even completely stopped. Yet on the other hand, online learning led to conflicting situations and had a bad experience for some.
In the future, I am looking forward to attending physical classes (as the pandemic gets over), doing activities in ‘physical’ interactions such as internships, moot courts, debates, spending time with friends in classrooms and canteens, reading in the library, and more. Indeed all of them are only sensible in the physical world.
At last, the three phrases (created by me) which I would use to describe these thirteen months of online classes for the students in the nutshell were ‘an unquiet mind’ or extra consciousness needed by the student. Due to the fact that extra effort had to be put on more than the mere studies. For instance, daily charging your laptop or computer, keeping it safe to not miss any live classes, and reviewing your soft copies materials, etc.
Second, ‘the wandering soul’ in the virtual law classes as students were not able to persist in a state. Exactly like ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in this online medium. It was difficult to concentrate at a time as people are not used to this streaming unlike the physical condition.
Third, ‘the lost body’ as there was no physical presence of the teacher and students in the physical classrooms though on non-living screens for more than a year. And unironically this continues.