Studying from home is the ‘new normal’ owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Students who were once sitting on benches and chairs before a blackboard are now confined to virtual screens with the unmute button. We did have an infusion of ‘online learning’ before the pandemic, however, it gained undeniable importance during these enduring times. Although e-learning has emerged as the biggest saviour in the midst of educational institution closures, it has also brought with it, its own losses for students.
Research has indicated that a lot of young learners have fallen behind in their reading capabilities and math. Educators are expressing reasonable concerns about disparaging an entire generation. Parents across the world are thinking of creative ways to engage children in the world that is dominated by screen time. It is causing distress to many parents when their teachers comment about their children’s lacking progress.These stories from around the world raises an important debate about how and when to measure the academic impact of the pandemic on children and how to address learning gaps without discouraging students & their families.
Administrations across the world are asking educators to plan on testing students this year in part to measure the inequities incited due to the pandemic. Others are advocating against the concept of ‘learning loss’. They fear inciting a moral panic that calls out an entire generation. “This isn’t a lost generation, they just need extra support”, said Kayla Patrict, a policy analyst at the Education Trust.
The meaningful assessment of a student is an essential part of the educational process. In normal cases, students are required to take a test or sit for an examination at school; however, this is no longer an option due to which students are taking examinations leniently. Accept it or not, there are a significant number of students who attempt to take the simple route to success. When they use an online learning system, it has become easier for them to answer from varied sources indulging in unfair means.
Another study has hinted at children from low-income have fallen further behind in the last year. Others go even further, claiming that, regardless of language, standardised testing to assess the pandemic's effects is either unnecessary or even detrimental. Even though educational institutes are trying their best to boost and build on students' performance much has to be done to bring them at par.
What does it mean to learn online with "quality"? In the online mode, the concept of quality education has changed, and it now includes ICT components that help solve all of the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the physical gap between the teacher and the learner. ICT has the power and ability to assist users in not only overcoming these obstacles, but also adding unexpected value to classes that could result in increased teacher and learner results, resulting in a better learning experience. Teachers have been observed in online classes going through long winded descriptions of concepts to compensate for their lack of physical presence, leaving learners passive, bored, and eventually distracted. The online class should have a well-planned sequence of activities for ‘active participation,' which provides opportunities for the learners.
Although students are eager to return to school, this period of online learning will provide principals and educators with new perspectives into what constitutes quality education as well as their own readiness to deliver it. Because of the inherent openness of this medium, the problems of providing high-quality online learning will be addressed sooner rather than later. The real challenge will be to recall and apply the lessons learned during this period to enrich our daily classes following the lockdown constraints, rather than reverting to our old "teacher-driven" ways!