In the difficult times that we are living in, adapting to the ‘new normal’ hasn’t been easy for anyone. The lack of enthusiasm in the online classes is a challenge for the teachers as much as it is for the students. On the occasion of Teacher’s Day, recognizing and appreciating their efforts and dedication will keep both the students and the teachers going, till we finally return to the campuses.
The year 2020 has been nothing short of extraordinary. With all the complaining, crying, venting, ranting and struggling, we are passing each day, to repeat that vicious cycle all over again. As students, loitering around the college campuses with friends did not only make the day pass but also made it worth everything. With education becoming completely online, and almost no change of physical environment whatsoever, the entire day has turned into a mechanical process of doing things for the sake of it, with repeated interruptions of connectivity and family members. This is the condition of most of the students, if not all, making them lazy, less interested, and noninteractive in classes. While we can go on and on about the problems that students have to go through in this process of virtual learning, there are similar ones from the other side of the screens as well.
Six months ago, the picture of someone speaking into the microphone while looking at a screen would not even have come to our minds, much like many other pictures that we are seeing every day nowadays. However, the point is that even when this has become what is being called the ‘new normal‘, it hasn’t become easy or convenient. The teachers at all levels of education have been trying to get, not only themselves but also their students adapted to this unusual method of teaching and learning. “Online classes aren’t anyone’s choice”, says Professor Saba Basheer from the Department of English, JMI. Adding to that she said, “This is just a way to deal with the extraordinary situation that we all are in.”
With the students having no access to college libraries, the responsibility of providing all essential and relevant material falls on the shoulders of the teachers. Besides, switching between the responsibilities of their personal spaces and their professional spaces simultaneously, with no boundary separating them can be exhausting and draining. Managing the attendance and avoiding any glitches with them, under the shadow of technical barriers is undoubtedly a huge responsibility. From arranging the material in the form of e-books and other resources to making sure that the resources are well utilised, from managing their internet connections, to apologising repeatedly when there is a glitch, the teachers have been struggling like the students. Moreover, the limited participation from the students due to several reasons doesn’t seem as rewarding. Even after all this, the teachers have been delivering to the best of their capabilities. In addition to this, before beginning their lecture they make sure to lend a listening ear to the students regarding their problems with online classes.
Amrita Ajay, an Assistant Professor of English Literature at Delhi University tells us,
“Online classes require a lot of technological logistics to be in place to ensure no time is wasted while taking attendance or while referring to certain pages of a text. There is very little scope of assessing if the materials taught, have reached the students or not (sometimes due to the nature of the medium students hesitate to interrupt or ask questions). The only positive aspect is the ease of sharing a variety of e-resources on the digital platform, but then again the issue of accessibility remains for many students. Student motivation, overall, is limited on digital platforms.”
A lot has been said, and rightly so about the limited accessibility of online education for students coming from different backgrounds. The same is also true for the teachers. A LiveWire article talks about the struggles of a teacher who didn’t know how to how to use an Android phone. She didn’t even own one before the pandemic. We all have grown up and learnt to learn in classrooms with a table, a chair, a blackboard, bags, and books. The teachers, like us, have learnt to teach in these spaces. While sharing the screen might seem like an advantage, the absence of chalk scribbling on a blackboard is definitely felt. Since the shift in the platform for education, it has been repeatedly said, “The teachers, like the students, are learning.”
“The online format of teaching has been full of delirium”, says Anindita Ghosh, an Assistant Professor at Delhi University, while talking to TJR. On being asked about the changes during this shift, she says, “It has dismantled our known and tested methods of teaching. The classes have most certainly become less interactive and more monologue-like.” Adding that impact of the body language in the process of teaching has been completely lost, she says that the enthusiasm of the students has been at an all-time low. “Many of us have been labelling the teaching experience as schizophrenic, speaking to ourselves”, she declares. Recognizing the struggles of the teachers in these unusual circumstances is as important as it is with the students. In doing so, there will also be a recognition of the efforts and the dedication that is being put by them in the process.
Alfisha Sabri is a student pursuing English Literature from University of Delhi.
Edited by: Varda Ahmad
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.