On-Line Learning And Technological Trap – Students Left In The Lurch
Despite the great talk of online lessons and tests since the COVID-19 lockdown those who belong to the have-not category have been facing the brunt of the decision to hold online classes. Children of lower paid workers and contractual jobs whose source of income had dried during the lockdown period have been excluded from all such teaching-learning as they did not have access to a smart phone or a laptop and unaffordable items for them such as computers at home or in their neighbourhood.
Switching from classroom teaching to online education thus had become a curse for the students admitted under the Economically Weaker Section quota.Drawback of not having proper device and high-speed Internet has deprived them of exams as well.But so far no alternative mechanism has been made available for such students.
The official stand has been that it is the educational institution’s responsibility to provide the educational material particularly under the RTE Act.The Right to Education Act (RTE) lays down the condition that is the school’s duty to provide the material.But this is not being done on one pretext or the other.The private schools are complaining that they have limited funds and the govt. should help distribute free laptops etc. amongst EWS students .But where is themoney? Meanwhile the students continue to suffer
Apart from the online classes which were being regularly conducted by the private schools in Delhi,Government schools had show cased five digital learning interventions.These included live online classes for students of class12; English and Personality Development for class10 and 12 students; Online Mathematics for class9; Digital Entrepreneurship Mindset classes for students of class9 to 12; text and interactive voice response enabled activity classes for classes KG to 8 involving parents.Also 15 sessions of Happiness classes were undertaken and attended by families and students
Another serious drawback of online classes was additional screen time for which children had to be exposed.Apart from this there was the usual complaint of connectivity issues.To overcome such problems a new approach was needed. Meanwhile to meet the challenge of limited connectivity the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has planned 12 direct-to-home (DTH) television channels each dedicated to one academic year thus from class1 to class12 all the classes will besoon covered.The expertise will come from institutions of national importance such as NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training ) and CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education).
Based on DTH channels a comprehensive educational initiative leveraging technology to carry education even to the remotest of the corners of the country was under way through the e-Vidyaplan.The HRD and IB (Information and Broadcasting) ministries will once again come together to bring free-to-air educational channels without any extra cost for the benefit of the students as part of the existing DTH platform along with such others as TATA SKY and Airtel DTH.It may be recollected Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has been the polestar on the horizon of blended learning and distance education for long and its centre-of-excellence the Electronic Media Production Centre (EMPC) has been the hub of India’s unique National Educational Channel-GyanDarshan and FM-Radio network-GyanVani ,dedicated to furthering access to education for all.
Writer is Electronic Media Expert, Education technologist and former Member of Board of Management (IGNOU)