In the past 2.5 years, online education for young children has become the talk of the town. An online platform Local circles conducted a study across 314 districts in India about online schooling post-pandemic and 63% of the 23,500 respondents wanted to continue with online education. I have seen that some sections say online schooling is a bane and some sections say it’s a boon. However, in my view, online education is not good or bad, it is just a medium used to educate. Good and bad are just perspectives and narratives that keep changing as per the need of the hour. According to me, one needs to learn how to balance every aspect of life. There is a time to switch off go out and play or read or just have fun with friends and family and there is a time to use technology as a medium to learn. Let us look at some of the myths people have about online education and how one can work around them:
Too much screen time is bad for children
It is believed that too much screen time is bad for children. However, your children are born in the era of technology and are surrounded by screens at all times. Screens will eventually be used in classrooms too. So as parents you need to define a decent screen time and define what your children will view or do during the allotted screen time. Technology is a great medium for education and if one uses it to their advantage it will help enhance your child’s learning experience.
Online education isolates children
Today online education is all about interactive learning and children can connect with each other. It does not isolate them. In turn, it helps children connect with people from across the globe and learn about different cultures and countries and more. while physical contact is necessary children can very well do that during their physical play time or other classes they attend. Online education facilitates global learning and makes children ready to become global citizens.
Children need physical touch
Children do need physical touch, however, there are various opportunities for children to interact with their peers. Children can do that in a playground or interact with children and elders in their building or even when they go for their hobby classes. The physical touch need not necessarily be during school time. That time is all about learning and having fun while doing so. Online school helps save time school is over in 3-4 hours and the rest of the time can be utilized for enhanced learning and interacting with people.
Children have a limited attention span
Attention span is reducing and that’s because the way we teach children is boring. An engaged class is where children are involved in the learning process and that can be done online too. I have experienced disengaged children in a physical classroom and that is sole because they are not interested in what the teacher is saying. Hence engagement solely depends on the interest of the child, the way the information is being disseminated and how involved the children are.
Online learning needs a parent to be involved
It is believed that there is increased parental involvement in the case of online learning. Well, that is partly because parents want to know how the teacher is teaching and what is the child learning. Most online schools make sure the material is sent to children and their parents beforehand and all the parent needs to do is to make sure they have everything ready before the start of the day and after that leave the child alone in their learning process, until the child really needs your assistance you can carry on with your day.
Children have access to too much information
Well we live in a world where all kinds of content is available at the click of a button and as parents of young ones you need to decide what they can have access to and what needs to be blocked. You need to make sure you limit their access to only what they need. Cyber training is something children should learn at a young age so that they a directed in the right direction and they learn to use the internet in a responsible manner.
Internet a ‘crutch’ for children A lot of people believe that children are not using their brains enough and relying on the internet or technology for information. For example, there was a time one remembered phone numbers, however today a lot don’t even remember their close family member’s numbers. Earlier people made the effort to mentally calculate, however, today everyone runs to a calculator. People in general a lazy and always look for alternatives to make life easy, which is not a bad thing. According to me, there is so much information available that people don’t know what to do with it, as educators we need to teach children how to read the information, sort what they need as per the brief and also analyse data. Education is all about allowing children to learn the basic concepts at their pace and then helping them apply them in real-life situations along with letting them explore what more they can do with what they know. If this is a principle one follows any medium is good and it is imperative to understand that technology is just a medium and when we use it to our advantage it works for us otherwise it is a disaster. So online, offline or a hybrid school is good if we stick to the need for education. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages and we need to look at what works best for you and your child.
Lina Ashar is an educationist.