In this global crisis, the virtual system of learning has proved its merits. As the technology advances, this system is here to stay. Virtual learning provides various options such as e-mail, online chat and video conferences. This method is opted these days due to the shutdown of schools, colleges and other educational institutions. But accepting the virtual method doesn’t mean rejecting the traditional classroom culture. The convenience and low-cost model of virtual learning cannot replace the experiential learning of human values and character development in the classroom setting.
During the pandemic, virtual learning is important so that the education of children is not hindered. However, classrooms are important too as the children can sit together and concentrate on a particular topic. Although online learning gives students an opportunity to learn but it also distracts them. Once their lessons are done, they start surfing other things. Hence, the impact of learning is uncertain and not always optimum. But in a classroom, there is only one channel to communicate. A teacher-student relationship in a real classroom situation cannot be replaced. The questions which a student can ask in a classroom, is not possible virtually. Education is not limited to the syllabus only. It also includes discipline, manners, morals and interaction with other students and teachers. These traits are difficult to inject through online teaching.
In remote areas, many people don’t own Android phones or gadgets. Those having gadgets are unable to pay the price of the data packs. Though the teachers send assignments on WhatsApp groups, the students experience difficulties in accessing the contents. Sometimes, the signal is lost and the class is missed. Online teaching is a good platform but it is not for everyone. It has some requirements like a good Internet connection and an interface, but not every student can afford it. Moreover, the blue screen of these gadgets can affect the eyes.
There is another drawback that a teacher cannot monitor the body language of the students and ensure their focus. Studies suggest that children learn better through faceto-face interaction and group study. Virtual learning may not clear our doubts completely and we are unable to interact with our teachers and professors. There should be some provision for clearing the doubts. In addition, classroom lessons are good for primary students as they learn to become disciplined. In classrooms, students learn about their weaknesses and strengths besides focusing on social interaction as a means to boost self-confidence.
Online learning is an interesting medium as students can attend classes taught by teachers from across the world. If one doesn’t understand a concept taught by one teacher, he or she can refer to another one. We can even get a threedimensional view of objects online which helps us understand certain scientific concepts better. In any case, there is an ocean of videos on every topic on YouTube, which the students can access for free.
The e-learning platform is the best substitute to classroom learning for now. Besides, it is more innovative and makes learning interesting and creative for students. It is important that we support teachers and educators in their endeavours to educate students from home. The working students and professionals prefer online mode. However, presently, there is no choice but to go for virtual learning and embrace the changes with a positive mindset. But as something is better than nothing, it’s good to have virtual classes in this period. Many software solutions and applications such as Zoom, Webex, Amazon Chime, and Microsoft Teams, allow video conferencing. We also need to take care of the fact that the software or application used for the virtual classroom is secure. In India, we don’t have a lot of experience in digital learning but we had to resort to it as finding a substitute for classroom teaching was the need of the hour. The concept of online classes is not new. A collective effort of teachers, students and parents is important to ensure that students’ education is not affected by the pandemic.
Unlike traditional mode of learning, e-learning saves time, money and energy. It is a preferred method that promotes knowledge enhancement among students while they are in their comfort zone. Teaching and learning in a virtual classroom are a unique experience both for teachers and students. The best part about online learning is that the students can watch recorded lectures, which is not possible in regular classrooms. Virtual learning is bliss if students and teachers have easy access to technology.
Our main motive should be to get education. Technology has narrowed the bridge between virtual and classroom learning in the modern world. Online mode of learning is the best choice during the pandemic as it adheres to the norms of social distancing. This method will ensure that students spend their time productively during the tough times. Also, it’s important that we appreciate the efforts of institutions and teachers who are working recklessly towards betterment of students.
The author is a journalist and holds a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communication from Banaras Hindu University.