Online Education for Kids: Pros and Cons

Due to COVID-19, the deadly disease, many of us are under lockdown. It has affected our lives in every manner. It is a difficult phase faced by everyone for the first time in our lives. Our economy has suffered – so many businesses have come to a halt, and many people are losing their jobs. Recession can be seen without exception in every field.

But this lockdown has also given all of us new opportunities, new ideas, and new hobbies. We got to have the time to ourselves that we had craved for.  We got time to sit back and relax with our families, get back to hobbies which we had left behind due to our hectic work lives.

In the midst of all this, education suffered the most. Schools, colleges and education institutions opted for online classes, which is still a very new concept to most of us and not very much embedded in our culture, like the west. This whole situation has pushed our education system one step ahead.

Online Education can help in learning outside traditional classroom teachings. Students can study from anywhere with facility of Internet and online resources. Online classes include virtual training, audios, videos, texts, presentations etc. It’s an ambience which is more flexible than a regular classroom.

There are many apps that provide online education to kids and these apps saw upsurge response of online teaching during this lockdown period. Many online learning apps claim an unprecedented rise in demand.

Now students don’t need to change into uniforms to get ready and wait for the bus to go to school. They can wear comfortable clothes and still attend classes at home.

Benefits of online education:

Flexibility: Students have the freedom to be in their comfortable zones and attend classes. There is no pressure to be in a traditional classroom. Now students get enough time to indulge in other projects along with their studies.

Documentation: All the information that is useful for students is safely stored in an online database. Students don’t need to take down notes from a blackboard and they will never lose the notes given by teachers.

Importance of parents’ involvement: Since the classes are online parents play a crucial role in making the endeavor successful and interactive. According to some teachers, kids who had failed to submit the assignments on time in school are now doing it on time as they are getting more attention from their parents.

Kids who were passive listeners in school are now turning out to be active participants in online classes.

No commuting required: Since students don’t need to travel to school, they are saving their travelling time and are using this as an opportunity to learn other skills and information.

There are many drawbacks of online education in comparison to its advantages:

Lack of Internet access in a developing country like India: More than half of the Indian population just lives to survive; sending kids to school is a Herculean challenge for many. Children who attend government schools cannot afford to, nor have the means to attend online classes or use education apps. The government and schools do not have the means to educate them all during the pandemic.

In India, significant amount of children live where there is no access of internet nor have sufficient place to their homework. Many families face housing vulnerabilities or are destitute.

Many teachers are also not used to online teaching environment: Teachers over the age of 50 are not comfortable or skilled enough to use smart devices for teaching purposes. Many teachers complain that it becomes difficult to concentrate on the topic they are trying to teach.

For many parents, multiple devices for themselves and their children is a financial burden: With the increase in demand of online education and work from home, kids along with adults need more gadgets like smartphones and laptops. Buying a device for each member of the family can be financially burdensome for most.

Inordinate reliance on gadgets and restricting of classical classroom lessons, particularly in  metropolitan cities would make education a privilege of defined set of people. This will hinder the children from poor families to have primary education.

There is high concern over social security and privacy too if any app or its servers get hacked then users’ information can be exploited.

With online education, there is also a need for self-discipline since the responsibility to complete their assignments on time is on the students.

Prolonged lack of real social interaction and personal connections with peers, students, and teachers can affect students’ personality development. It will also affect their growth, learning, and development. The lack of opportunities for new experiences, interaction, and self-discovery may hinder social development.

Students are given more freedom than one can handle; they need to develop good time management skills.

Hampers eyesight: Parents fear too much pressure of online learning as well as looking at screens for hours at a time can affect children’s eyesight and hamper their health.

 

Amidst the regulations of social distancing and self-isolation, if students are allowed to attend classes, they might not be able to exercise the safety precautions in an effective manner. It will be tough to control the kids from playing or touching each other and it can easily spread the virus. Therefore, online classes can provide the same quality of education in the comfort of their homes, help in securing their future and also in controlling the spreading of the virus.

Evaluating both the pros and cons of online learning will help prepare us to face the challenge of learning and working in this environment, as well as embrace new opportunities that it has to offer.

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Yamini Kaushik is an avid learner, reader and movie binge-watcher.
 

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