When virtual takes the meaning out of learning, and life

What is the point of online education if it doesn’t lead to solution-finding, community bonding or simply an overall development of the individual and the society as a whole? | Pixabay Photo

Nithin, 23, was finishing up the second semester of M.Com in an MG University-affiliated college in Kottayam, Kerala when the pandemic struck. His last year of college was spent entirely online. Five hours of back-to-back digital classes followed by umpteen assignments. Scores of video uploads to watch before the next class, webinars that warranted compulsory attendance.

"Online classes actually meant being logged-in all the time. No college tour, no internship, not even a farewell ceremony. This was the most depressing year of my student life!”

Remya, 20, is a final year B.Sc Botany student who has applied for the post of a probationary clerk in a nationalised bank. “From Botany to banking, I know it doesn’t make sense. But anything is better than two more years of virtual classroom. Last year was a struggle. Learning was average, most of us had internet issues. The biggest disappointment was my final project–we had to choose non-laboratory topics that could be done at home. All of us ended up researching indoor plants on Google!”

Jyothi, 20, from Kochi just completed her last semester in BA Literature and is awaiting her university exam results. “Our teachers tried their best. We couldn’t visit the library but they gave us plenty of YouTube links and videos, they organised debates and grouped us to present critical analysis in class. They asked us to sign up for alternate online capsule courses to improve our language skills and overall confidence.”

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