Suchitra Rau Friday, 26 June 2020

Subjects beyond the scope of Online Learning

This pandemic has been an absolute eye-opener. Through its course, we have started to realize just how much we have taken for granted, in every field, right from education to recreation. Due to this, we have had to come up with alternatives to conventional methods of living in order to help end the pandemic. However, while some of these alternatives have been effective, most others have not. Education is one such field that is essential during this time, while it still struggles to put forth a universally viable substitute.

With many educational institutions moving online, virtual learning already poses the problem of accessibility. With o kindly 8% of Indian homes having a computer and a stable internet connection, online learning proves that, what this nation needs is the traditional face-to-face learning. Delving a little deeper, with these institutions that have adopted digital learning, there are certain subjects that simply can not be taught online, putting those few students at a disadvantage, despite being privileged enough to learn digitally. Aspiring doctors or athletes can not be trained when they are confined to their homes. Such subjects require profound, hands-on, immersed learning.

Most educational institutions are well equipped with facilities such as laboratories and sports fields, to help aid children with better learning. For those students that are specialising in subjects that require such facilities, neither will they have access to the same at home, nor will they be able to learn about the same digitally.

For example, medical students cannot be taught even the most fundamental nuances of patient examination online. Design students need particular raw materials and specific apparatus. Subjects including auto-mechanics, sewing, hospitality, physical education, sport science, and several more are subjects that will not make it from a teacher to a student through a screen. Either due to the process of teaching or the lack of equipment at home, these subjects can be taught in one way only- the traditional way.

Education, over the years, has gravitated towards a more practical approach, rather than purely theory-based. Hence, most subjects today demand involvement to a particular extent. It is a proven fact that one can retain information that they are taught as theory much better when a practical explanation aids it. As Aristotle said, "For things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.". Moving to digital learning compromises this aspect of education.

Education of a student is an all-round experience- right from the learning process, interaction and formation of bonds with peers, and the utilization of resources that can not be otherwise found at home. Digital learning, though the only viable alternative currently, brings with it an array of challenges, to some more than others.