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Coronavirus pandemic has created huge disruption in all walks of life, especially limiting our physical movement. Affecting more than 200 countries across the world, the pandemic brought lives to a standstill for months. With all social gatherings and events getting closed, it was the internet that kept humans connected and while bringing everything from learning to work. 

Education too was impacted by the closure of schools, institutions, universities and other learning spaces that affected billions of students, educators and people connected with the education field. Over 94% of the world's student population took refuge on the internet to continue with their learning. However, this had wide-ranging changes and challenges for everyone. 

Looking at the Indian educational institute's setup, it was very necessary to shut them down at first to prevent the spread of the virus. Social distancing and restrictive movement policies had caused a significant disturbance in traditional educational practices. Reopening schools after relaxation of restriction is another challenge with several standard operating procedures put in place. 

Adopting E-Learning wasn't an easy task as many senior educators weren't technologically smart enough to handle teaching from home after the face to face teaching technique was discontinued. However, the Covid-19 pandemic gave an advantage by providing an opportunity to pave the way for introducing digital learning. 

As lockdown was imposed to flatten the curve of virus transmission, shifting general teaching methods to the virtual world wasn't an easy way to go about. 

There was a pressing need to implement an innovative and alternative educational system and assessment strategies because learning cannot be halted for long. 

Teachers and educators in the country highlighted certain inadequacies such as the shortcoming of online teaching infrastructure, the limited exposure of teachers to online teaching, the information gap, not so helpful environment for learning at home, equity and academic excellence in terms of higher education. 

We spoke to a few teachers, educators and counsellors who gave us more insight into their experiences of online teaching for the second year of the pandemic. 

Pre-Covid-19 times had no disadvantages as innovations and new methods of teaching were easier to execute, says a secondary higher school teacher Mrs Das from Bengaluru. 

The overall development of a student is only possible through a traditional form of teaching in school. Online discussion isn't as pleasant as usual talking in the school classroom and this is making kids dumber and energy-less, as online skills cannot compensate for social skills. And teachers believe that no social skills and lack of ability to gel with people and other students are turning students witless. 

The value of sharing that generation back then had by studying, playing and eating with each other has disappeared. Testing the students IQ and intelligence is not possible through digital learning, while assessment cannot be taken into satisfaction, Das adds. 

Pandemic has changed the dynamics of teaching, shifting the burden more on the teachers. While a few believe that passing students appearing for the boards has also lessened the credibility of exams and the purpose of education. 

Meanwhile, school teachers have to prepare everything from lessons to the next material almost consuming their entire day, learning online teaching tools, which is causing more stress to some who aren't technologically skilled. Moreover, the change in the teaching course, the pressure of delivering better and continuously improving and keeping up to date with technology have all together caused mental stress on teachers. 

Online teaching didn't bring a drastic advantage, however, teachers have become a little stronger in using technology and gadgets. 

Following the decline in Covid cases and vaccination being given to adults, while vaccine trials are being carried out on children, eventually, everything will be back to normal. 

Soon when teachers and students come back to school it will have implications, said Mrs Das, adding that, "The pandemic has created a void in between the teachers and students. Both have become comfortable in learning and teaching from home. Going back to normal offline teaching will create an imbalance for teachers, especially."

She also fears how children will be able to adapt themselves in the school atmosphere, how much their communication skills have developed or would they be able to mingle well with other students. 

Speaking on the CBSE's new assessment techniques, Mrs Das believes that it will reduce the weight of studies for the students, and splitting the exams into two halves will provide the students with the opportunity to score better marks. She further stated that CBSE's new assessment rules have given more focus on practical examination and concentration on the development of students skills is an appreciable move made by the body. 

Many teachers think that the online mode of examination can never replace the physical examination method. Adding to this, Mrs Das said that you don't know the authenticity of the answers. Students can copy from Google, cheat or just be on a conference call with friends, discuss and give exams. Therefore, offline exams are a must. 

Ankita Das who teaches junior section students of class UKG and 1,  feels there are several advantages in teaching and learning mode going online. Education has seen up-gradation as different tools, apps are being used to understand a concept while previously, there were smart classes but the material was limited, now it has broadened. Time and distance is not a thing to worry about now, students can utilize their time sitting at the comfort of their homes. 

Children are becoming smarter as they are introduced to technology in junior classes as compared to earlier days, she added. 

"Even the junior class students are getting familiar with various educational materials that are helpful for better understanding of any subject. Many educational and learning videos, tutorials, worksheets, DIY projects etc are getting accessed nowadays compared to earlier," added Ankita Das. 

Although she asserts online learning has several benefits, there are some major implications such as there's no peer education like group assignments, play way methods of learning are not possible. "Students have become lazy as there are fewer classes due to guidelines. Copy and pen work is missing; it's affecting their writing abilities. The physical, social, emotional development of children are getting affected," she said. 

Further classroom ethics have also been affected.

"There are many things which a virtual classroom can’t replace like speaking and performing on a stage, giving presentations in front of the class or the whole school, exhibitions, celebrating various festivals and national holidays by doing many activities, teamwork etc.," adds Ankita Das. 

Meanwhile, speaking to a soft skill trainer and counsellor, about the impacts of a pandemic on children and education, Mrs Sailaja said that only students from std 7 to 12 have been strongly affected as this is a crucial period for the studies. 

There's no such loss for primary level kids, however, the pandemic has hampered students at the secondary level. Their overall development and social activities have seen an impact since this period is vital for their skill shaping. 

College education, she believes, is the least affected as it depends upon the student's personality and personal inclination. Mrs Sailaja says that this group in large has got more advantages as college students have received ample time to explore and learn things and courses that they are interested in. 

Online learning has given students living in distant places a chance to remain in their comfort place and acquire education, which wasn't that easy in the pre-Covid era. Because the internet is reaching everyone, education and knowledge are just a click away. 

The digital gap has more or less curtailed the education barrier in India, Mrs Sailaja said, adding that the most promising aspect of human behaviour is that they gradually adjust to situations and modify their lives with the demanding necessity. Thus, the human race will be back to making progress, though it will take time to get to normality as post-Covid might be hard, gradually people would learn to adjust. 



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