The coronavirus pandemic has brought changes that one would have never thought were possible. The outbreak of the virus led to the shutting down of schools and universities, many of which had pending curriculum. As affected regions began locking themselves up and people began self-quarantining, switching to remote working and online education was the only way to go. Schools, universities, and coaching centres are trying to provide online classes to their students so that they don’t have a large gap to cover when they resume their academics once the crisis ends.
The World Economic Forum reports a surge in the use of language apps, virtual tutoring, and video conferencing tools in the last three months. India is similarly witnessing a growth in e-learning. University professors and school teachers have been taking classes on apps such as Zoom.
The Indian demography is ideal for online learning. This is because educational facilities are below the criterion in many rural and semi-rural areas. Many learners will be able to opt for better educational opportunities online. Most companies have asked their employees to work from home, which allows them more free time. The professionals have been encouraged to take up online courses and increase their skills. Even though traditional learning enables an easy understanding of the subject, online learning provides the learner with flexibility in terms of courses and time. Moreover, research suggests that online learning has more retention of information. It also requires lesser time to learn online because they can learn at their own back, skipping, or accelerating through concepts as per their choice.
However, the students without reliable internet access or inability to function with technology face challenges. The effectiveness of e-learning also varies amongst age groups. Children require a more structured environment because they are more easily distracted. Moreover, many will agree that this transition does not compensate for the absence of the classroom experience.
Parents have been concerned about the lack of in-depth education and the increased screen time. Many are hoping that the concept of online education would fade after the lifting of the lockdown.
Dr. Kanika Ahuja, professor of psychology at Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College, has explained, “Increased screen time can cause increased sedentary behaviour in children and teens, decreased metabolism, disturbance in sleep cycle, more distraction and perhaps lower well-being. The key question is how much is too much.”
Rajesh Sagar, professor at the department of psychiatry at AIIMS Delhi, said that children below two years of age should not be exposed to gadgets, and those above two should not be staring at a computer screen for more than 30 minutes in one go. If more time is required, they should take breaks every half-an-hour.
Over the past two decades, several studies have linked too much screen time with social isolation and depression. However, new studies say that the link is very weak.
It is assumed that the virus will affect people’s lives extensively. Many say that online education is set to become the new normal in a post-COVID world. With a possible scenario like that, research on the possible deterioration of health due to e-learning should be made.