Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Digital overuse

Editorial 2

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, no one has been spared of its direct or indirect effects. Schooling and pedagogy is one such area that saw a dynamic change as a result of the measures that were taken by the world against the pandemic. Virtual lessons and online classes became the norm. A classroom where teachers would impart education, and develop a long term relationship with student, now seems like a thing of past. Nagaland has no different a story to tell. Parents, students, and schools have their perceptions and apprehensions as is the case across the world. Before the pandemic hit us, parents were already complaining about the effects of overexposure to electronic gadgets, and overuse of internet, on their children. Two years into the pandemic, their worries have increased as internet and usage of digital devices have become part of schooling. They are skeptical about the productivity of online learning and the effect this new way of learning will have on their wards. Students have their side of the tale too. While senior students have somewhat now gotten adjusted to virtual learning, juniors, who just started their educational journey, accept this as the only way of schooling. This may have its repercussions when things become normal and toddlers return to the real classrooms. Imagine the toddlers who were admitted to kindergarten just after Covid struck; they are yet to attend their maiden class in person. Although on line education compensated the loss of time, but the relationship between a teacher and their students has almost evaporated. These toddlers know their teachers as some digital entities who are no more than a voice and an image. In such a situation one doesn’t know what a teacher really means to these students. Those who have spent some years in school, but are now on this digital mode must be feeling a substantial change in relating to a teacher. This would be a challenge for schools once in person classes resumes. Senior students also have their own challenges. Shifting from a physical classroom to a simulated one and staring endlessly on their digital devices is not the optimal way of learning. Not to forget the internet speed in our state, particularly in remote areas, which deals the final blow in the entire online schooling process. No doubt some schools went out of their way to make the new method of learning as positive as possible. They devised new processes and methods to ensure they keep their students engaged and continue the learning process. But there are a vast majority of schools that just passed the buck. As a result, the burden of teaching shifted to parents. Parents had to arrange the electronic gadgets and foresee time to be present during the classes. They must also help with the homework, which many felt increased manifold in this mode of learning. Long story short, things have changed drastically. We can’t deny the fact that the internet plays a vital role in our day to day lives now. It has become a part of our schooling system too. But there is a constant fear about over usage of technology especially by the young ones. Are we over-exposing our kids to the digital world? As a parent, it is a natural tendency to protect our children from all unforeseen situations but is that enough? Only fear and complaining won’t do. Parents need to put some reasonable efforts into inculcating digital habits. If parents adopt productive internet habits, their wards will eventually copy and follow. As they say, young ones imitate the elders. Here one doesn’t know when it would be suitable to open schools and return to the original mode of interaction. For now, the government has decided not to reopen schools for Class 10 & below in the state. Till then teachers, apart from completing syllabus, must include new elements of interaction that contribute to building up of a human relationship with students. Education is not just about finishing the contents of a prescribed book, but to strike a relationship with students. As has been said, a teacher is a lifelong guide for a student and this must not be lost while imparting education through the digital medium.