On a day when Karnataka has reopened colleges and universities to students who can choose from a blended format of online and offline classes, a study by the Azim Premji University, called 'Busting Myths of Online Educations', has revealed how the new normal of online education comes with many perils.
While the study reinforces the reopening of schools, the Karnataka government is yet to take a call on when and how they will reopen. The study covered 1,522 teachers in as many schools and 398 parents in the public school system, spanning 26 districts of five states. It showed the challenges experienced by children and teachers in the implementation of online learning.
The states include Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which have been implementing different forms of online teaching in public schools while Karnataka and Uttarakhand have not implemented any state-level initiatives for online teaching.
One of the key findings of the study shows that almost 60% of the children had no access to online learning opportunities. The reasons for this varied from absence of a smartphone, multiple siblings sharing a smartphone, to difficulty in using apps for online learning, among others. The issue of access was worse for children with disabilities.
The report also reveals that online learning opportunities were ineffective in providing any actual education to students. More than 80% teachers expressed the impossibility of maintaining an emotional connect with children in the online mode. Whereas 90% of them said no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible through online classes. An overwhelming majority of teachers showed a complete inadequacy of delivering meaningful education through the online mode. Among the other stakeholders, parents too were of the opinion that online classes were not effective. And contrary to popular belief, almost 90% of them were willing to send their children to school with necessary health safeguards. Close to 65% were of the opinion that schools, when they reopen, would not pose a problem for their children’s health.