COVID-19 is a pandemic that changed the world in many ways. Especially in education.
What started as a small outbreak in China in December 2019 ended up into a full-fledged epidemic in India and the world by March. By March 11 the school year had to be cut short, and early onset summer break was declared.
Lockdowns were declared across the country and for us, and the expected summer holidays became dull moments just sitting at home. The social distancing norms snatched away from our playtime too. Around this time, we were looking for other ways to keep ourselves engaged, and our parents were very flustered, keeping us occupied and yet keeping us away from the TV.
And interestingly, as luck would have it, my School Ekya JPN, started “Community Connect” by the end-March. It was a lot of fun to get back in touch and relate to my schoolmates. There were online sessions for dance, visual arts, origami and even baking, to name a few. These things were a lot of fun, and we connected to these classes over Zoom sessions. I faced quite a bit of initial hiccups in terms of connectivity on understanding Zoom. But within weeks, my siblings and I became proficient in handling zoom based sessions.
When the school year started for me on May 26, I was all too excited. My parents salvaged an old laptop, created a desk, and got an internet connection. They created a login account and password on Windows, which was exciting. For the first time, I did not need to share my parents’ computer.
In the first week, it was all super fun as we got to know our teachers and other classmates. Interacting entirely online was weird. Without months of haircut, I was probably looking like Malinga, but then on seeing my friends realised they were no less messy. Surprisingly, I started liking my own long hair. And my teachers did not enforce a haircut and they would have done it if it were real school.
The first week was also slightly chaotic. Each of us were trying to talk over each other, and it was very noisy. However, our class teacher had encouraged us to draw social contracts online, and we had set ground rules for the class. Simple things like being on mute and unmute it only when we talk, or raising the hand on the Zoom session, or logging on with the video, and logging in on time were some of the key new areas we drew our social contract.
It was also fun because our teachers are immensely helpful and understanding. Some of us would be logged out multiple times because of flaky internet connections, and the teacher would add us back into the class, or our friends would invite us.
Saturdays were also fun, we had a breakfast club, where we all had breakfast together at 10:00 in the morning. My mom made some delicious dosas, and I was proudly munching them with chutney and podi. How I wish there was a magical way through which I could share it with my friends over Zoom!
My first experience with late submission was unfortunate learning. The online collage competition, I did not see the time of submission, and when I tried to submit that night, I realised that the submission window closed at 2:59 p.m. I could not submit my beautiful poster, but then I learnt a lesson. To be more prompt and be watchful of date and submission times. A lesson well learnt.
It is almost 2 months of online classes, and the journey has been interesting. There are many good things I find while moving to online learning, and there are a few areas where I miss school.
- Online education is very efficient because we can take screenshots of some slides that our teacher shows us and save them, ready to use any time.
- Unlike regular school, If I miss points or my notes are incomplete, I do not have to ask anyone else, or go through the tedious process of asking the teacher, getting her permission, asking who the teacher recommended, getting their permission, having a debate on when I should give it back or photocopy it, then finally write the notes! Huh.Though my parents do not agree that this is a good practice and want me to be attentive.
- I also seem to have extra time each day compared to regular school since I don’t need to rush each morning or get stuck in traffic jams while coming back.
- I also like the fact that I can eat whenever I am hungry, and my mom can always whip up something hot.
- There are some who say that it is harmful to the eyes and too much screen time is bad, but then our parents are good judges. My parents pull me off my laptop after school.
- One really annoying problem with online education is network problems, and since my siblings and I all login at the same time, the network is at times slow, and I switch off the video, and that is a cool trick that I learnt. But, sadly, we aren’t allowed to do that.
- I also think that it will be cool that I can look on to the highlights on Schoology when I feel sick on a day.
- I love that on Zoom Chats, we can share all the slides that the teachers send… and to be honest, we do get carried away.
Overall, online learning is fun for now, and I really enjoy it. And at the same time, I also miss the physical school and am looking forward to getting back to going to school to meet all my teachers.
Krish Rajesh Iyengar
Grade VI C, Ekya JP Nagar