In the foregoing year, COVID-19 brought about periodic lockdowns and recurrent halts in on-campus classes. Since, online classes are not as much productive as on-campus classes according to a majority’s opinion, many students, suffered.
Despite this negative impact of COVID-19 on education, there were some hidden opportunities as well, gaining advantage of which depended on the personal will of each student. The negative impacts of COVID-19 on education are worth-mentioning. In the absence of any attendance checks, bunking online classes was no big deal. In other words, the entire study routine as well as the routine of waking up early was disturbed.
Classes did start at the ordinary school timings; however, not many students were ready to disturb their sleep to attend them. Many parents too were not bothered about their children attending the classes.
Consequently, the productivity of online classes decreased. Secondly, the access to internet and gadgets was a distraction for those already least interested in studying. While parents expected their children to be attending online classes, many a child was busy in playing video games!
Thirdly, a vast majority of students study only to gain good marks in exams. In the previous year, there were almost no on-campus tests; the few online tests were no more than ‘open-book tests’ considering the many ways of cheating in them.
Consequently, there was no need for students to study anymore, so they did not! Lastly, medical education is mostly concerned with practicals and demonstrations, which cannot be performed online. Those doing house-job were restricted to the ‘Corona ward’; going to hospitals for the clinical lectures was impossible for most of the year.
Nevertheless, there were some plus points as well. Online classes brought a chance for introverts to express their viewpoints and participate in class discussions. The easy access to internet was utilized by students, who are mindful of their studies, to gain extra information regarding a particular topic and strengthen their concept of that topic. Moreover, not all books can be taken to schools, particularly to the high schools, in ordinary circumstances.
However, in online classes, students were able to access all their books at home. This led to a better grasp of a concept being taught since students were able to go along with the lecturer.
Perhaps, the greatest advantage for students attending online classes was that the time spent in going to school and coming back was saved; especially for those who either avail public transport or attend educational institutions far away from their homes. Apart from studying, this ample time could be spent on any activity that remained unaccomplished during the hectic school routine.
Apart from the explicit pros and cons of COVID-19 on education, many shortcomings in our educational set-up and many future prospects have been revealed. Since almost no proper exam was conducted last year, many students did not study throughout the year. Educationists must ponder over why studies so far have been unable to incite students’ interest; why majority of them only study to pass the tests and not out of their own will?
Similarly, the online system of education in COVID-19 can be further developed to achieve a number of gains. Firstly, some parents from remote areas do not send their children, particularly daughters, to school for a number of reasons; however, internet facility is available in many remote areas, and many people from backward areas also possess smart phones (all that are required for attending online classes).
Secondly, many government schools do not have many of the basic facilities; dozens of students are crowded in small classrooms. In both cases, managing online learning can solve these issues. Recording the online lectures brings added advantages: children who work part time to lend a hand in running their families can do so simultaneously with gaining education, and the lectures can be listened again and again in order to clarify concepts.
Some efforts have been carried out in this regard, an example of which is the website sabaq.pk. However, there is still a long way to go before the desired results are obtained. Every cloud has a silver lining; it is now upon us to either continue to blame the dark cloud or make full use of the silver-lining.
Guest post by Muhammad Majid Shafi