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Online learning? Teachers have developed sixth sense for false network issues


By Maliha Iqbal
We have once again gone from offline to online, from uniform to pajamas, during the third wave of the pandemic. The guy in the habit of muting the teacher jumped for joy. The classrooms now became deserted, both offline and online.
In this scenario, I googled to find some advantages of online education. I came across three major benefits- 1. Makes learning flexible 2. Learning can take place from anywhere 3. Improves overall understanding and learning experience.
Certainly, learning became flexible, to the point where there was no learning even. Sitting in one of my classes, a friend’s mic opened suddenly, accidently, and we could hear him shouting to throw a grenade and kill someone even as gunfire roared somewhere in the background. The teacher removed him after a few minutes for playing games during classes. Another friend times her breakfast so it is always in the mathematics class, strategically missing each class. One classmate never attends the first two classes because he doesn’t believe in waking up so early for online school.
In the beginning, there had been plenty of flexibility in exams too. I remember the case of a student who copied every answer from the internet, cut and paste. He copied everything, literally. A teacher read out his answer in class and mentioned dryly that he had also copied the website’s entire address into his answer. So that just below his answer was written, “For solutions to more Class 10 Mathematics problems visit XYZ website.
The second advantage was demonstrated when someone’s mic opened suddenly in the middle of English class and all could hear his mother giving him a list of tomatoes, carrots, sugar etc. to get from the market. Later, someone told the teacher that she too was in the market to get bread for breakfast, of course.
Then there are those who like doing classes from remote areas, liking the warm corners of their blankets, in their beds, the teacher’s voice a dull monotone that lulls them back to sleep. The feeling of irritation, hearing the alarm in the morning, fumbling for the phone above your pillow and quickly joining whichever class has started. After that furtively snuggling into the bed and sleeping, only to wake up when you hear the teacher calling your name for the attendance. Reminds one of childhood days when everyone was in junior classes and invented interesting abbreviations. Take CLASS, for example, it stood for Coming Late and Sleeping Soundly.
Yes, this is remote learning- be it Assam, Kerala, Delhi, outside India, auto rickshaw, bedroom, bathroom or dining table, you can do classes from anywhere.
Wait, one point needs to be added. Let’s tweak the definition a bit. Learning can take place from anywhere with internet. That definition is what adds the spice to it all. Internet is the key to opening the doors of your online school. So obviously, it is the thing which comes under attack the most. The buzzword nowadays is “network issue”. Sufficiently vague so the teacher wouldn’t understand and liberally used if you don’t know an answer, if you feel like taking a nap between classes, if your attendance is as low as the depleting water table, it’s always you facing some “network issues”. Teachers though, after much practice, seemed to have developed a sixth sense for all false “network issues”. Just as they had a sixth sense for bunking, incomplete homework, cheating in exams etc. in offline classes.
Now after all this, whether or not online education improves overall understanding and learning experience remains in doubt.

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