SHOULD THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM REPLACE THE PHYSICAL CLASSROOM? “SCHOOL EDUCATION IN THE PANDEMIC YEAR 2020”

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Student life is the best chunk of one’s life. The sound of the ringing bell, the morning prayers, the boring lectures, the lunch and laughter, the exam anxieties, the classroom noise, the punishments- all comprise the bitter-sweet memories of our school- life.

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Due to the Covid19 pandemic, and the schools being shut, education had to be imparted through online classes. Due to the complete lockdown, the air quality has no doubt improved, twittering birds can be heard, but the classrooms and the playgrounds remained quiet and empty.

In spite of the lockdown, many schools decided to conduct classes through the online medium as education cannot be discontinued, after all, the show must go on. The tech savvy generation of today was delighted to embrace the change whereas the schools and the teachers had to face a lot of obstacles to be a part of the change. But the question that ran down in all our minds was : Is it possible to replace the real classroom with the virtual classroom? Let us analyze it considering the different aspects:

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ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE CLASSROOM OVER REAL/OFFLINE CLASSROOM:

The very first advantage is that neither the teacher nor the students have to leave the comfort of their homes. Instead of reaching the school building, they can enter the classroom with just a click on their devices like mobile phones, laptops or personal computers.

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Next, there is hardly any necessity to carry a book as notes and textbooks can be accessed in the form of images or documents stored in the very devices. This takes us to another related advantage that the teacher can easily demonstrate a lesson using or sharing images, video or links. Again, unlike in the case of real classrooms, a student does not actually miss a lesson or a discussion, as an online class can be easily recorded for future use. Online classes need considerably less amount of paper, pens and other stationery items. Thus, there is less wastage of resources.

DISADVANTAGES OF ONLINE CLASSROOM OVER OFFLINE CLASSROOM:

Everything has its own pros and cons. So does the virtual classroom. Online classes are solely dependent on the internet. Classes can be interrupted due to slow internet connection, or even may have to be suspended in case of poor network due to weather changes.

Again, not everybody can arrange the expensive devices or afford the expenses of the online classes. Thus, many students coming from poor background remain deprived of knowledge. Such is the condition of the teachers that they are forced either to leave their jobs or change their teaching style as well as their lifestyles almost overnight. Though their lessons are pre-planned, due to the shortage of time, very little amount of interaction is possible between the teacher and the students.

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It is difficult to maintain discipline as well as to pay attention to an individual student. Moreover, from the health point of view, the increased screen time is extremely hazardous to the eyes. Sitting with the device all day, makes a child lazy and moody. With no friends to play, and no physical exercise, the children can suffer physically and mentally.

Though desperate problems require desperate measures, online mode of education may be an effective alternative for the time being. But, it cannot replace the real classrooms where one is present physically and mindfully to receive knowledge in all forms and from all directions.

“All the kids in the whole neighborhood came, laughing and shouting in the schoolyard, sitting together in the schoolroom, going home together at the end of the day.”

Issac Asimov

Quote said by Isaac Asimov in his short story ‘THE FUN THEY HAD’, as if he had seen the future and wanted to remind us of the old traditional schools, where children were sent not only to study but to learn how to socialize as well as to survive as an individual.

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