The Pandemic Effect! Majority of Students Want the Option to Keep Studying ONLINE

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The Pandemic Effect! Majority of Students Want the Option to Keep Studying ONLINE

Mangaluru: Experience of learning remotely during the pandemic left students with a positive attitude toward online and hybrid courses, as per a professor of a local private college. When colleges switched to emergency remote instruction last year, some online learning advocates feared the hasty transition would leave students with a negative impression of online learning. While more pre-pandemic online courses resulted from months of careful planning and significant financial investment, few instructors enjoyed these luxuries. Despite the challenges and shortcomings of this emergency transition to remote instruction, a majority of students want the option to keep studying online, according to the management of a City College.

An eminent professor, who wanted to remain anonymous, at a prestigious and renowned Catholic institution in the City said, “Blended and Hybrid Learning Mode has been available for education and has been effectively utilized by several premier national and global learning systems. In that sense, it is not a new-age alternative. In the context of the pandemic hitting the globe, especially affecting all levels of education adversely, all the countries in the world did not have any option but to explore the already available learning digital online platforms.”

“It is my personal conviction that there is no replacement to the physical/offline learning for all levels of learning and more importantly, to education at the formative ages of learners. Education must go beyond the content-based curriculum to learning life skills and all that it entails driven by appropriate attitudes, values, behaviours and acquisition of global human and professional competencies transforming the learner for global citizenship. Hence, at what entry-level of learning one should promote blended or hybridized learning must be determined by the entry-level of the learners of a particular phase of learning” added the professor.

While concluding he said, “There are millions of learners all over the world who constantly upgrade their learnings by making the best use of the internationally accomplished online learning platforms including virtual universities. But having said that, most of the education systems have been used exclusively on physical attendance to schools, colleges and universities. I would recommend that learners be exposed to physical classes in the formative years with adequate access to the online, blended and hybrid learning systems so that they get acclimatized to the virtual/blended/ hybrid learning ecosystem at the later higher education phase of life. All of the above is possible when adequate bandwidth, uninterrupted internet connectivity is facilitated across the length and breadth of the country”.

Shirley Thomas, a Final year student pursuing her Business Administration studies at St Aloysius College, Mangaluru speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “I love to be in the college along with my friends taking offline classes. But for the last so many months/year being at home due to the pandemic and attached very much to online classes, it has completely transformed me, where I find it hard to deal with classes in college. Sometimes I feel totally confused and wish I would have studied at home glued to online classes. And with the never-ending pandemic, I have no idea what would be our option-whether to stick completely to Online or opt for offline classes”.

It is learnt that in a survey conducted, the majority of students, 85 percent, “somewhat” or “strongly” (46 percent) agreed that they would like to take some fully online courses in the future. A slightly smaller number of students indicated they would be interested in taking courses offering a combination of in-person and online instruction. For in-person courses, 68 percent of students strongly or somewhat agreed that they would like to see greater use of technology. The use of digital materials and digital resources was also popular, with 67 percent indicating they would like to see an increase in usage of these materials.

A study conducted by researchers from Mangaluru and Bahrain, published in ‘Springer Nature’, has stressed that undergraduate and postgraduate (UG, PG) students have now adjusted to online classes. Therefore, at least one class must be held online every day, the study recommends.

As reported in a National Daily, a study titled ‘Covid-19 and its impact on the educational environment in India,’ was published a few days ago by a leading global research, educational and professional publisher. It was undertaken by Niyaz Panakaje, assistant professor and research guide at a private university in Mangaluru, Habeeb Ur Rahiman, Kingdom University, Bahrain; Mustafa Raza Rabbani, department of economics and finance, College of Business Administration, University of Bahrain; Abhinandan Kulal, department of Commerce, Mangalore University and Mahammad Thauseef Pandavarakallu and Shakira Irfan, department of postgraduate studies and research in commerce, St Aloysius College, Mangaluru.

The report stated, Niyaz Panakaje, principal researcher, said the study focused on determining the perception of UG, PG students towards the college education environment in Karnataka. Various components of the college education environment, such as online classes, teaching, learning, college activity, evaluation, college and administration, and teachers, were taken into consideration. The study is descriptive in nature, and data for it was collected from 347 college students, including postgraduates. The study was carried out by researching five universities of Karnataka like Mangalore University, Srinivas University, Yenepoya University, Bangalore University, VTU Belagavi, Nitte University, and Manipal University, which represents south, east, west, and northern regions of the state. Niyaz stated the overall outcome indicated that college students have a positive perception of online classes. The only problem is poor network connectivity, he stated.
Niyaz, in the conclusion of the study, and its recommendation, stated that college administration should hold classes of at least one subject in the online mode because students are adjusted to online classes. This also helps them to prepare in case of a future pandemic, he stated. “We also recommend for the Karnataka state government to provide basic infrastructure facilities to colleges so that they can hold classes systematically. The colleges which have now opened for offline classes will soon shift to online mode if a lockdown is clamped due to an increase in Covid cases,” Niyaz stressed, as per the report.

A few weeks ago, with the arrival of a possible third wave, the educational institutions in coastal Karnataka were slowly shifting back to the online mode of conducting classes. Quite a few colleges under Mangalore University had decided to hold online classes on Saturdays, with the introduction of weekend curfew, said P S Yadapadithaya, vice-chancellor, Mangalore University. “A majority of colleges will switch over to online classes on weekends. The complete switch over to online classes from offline will be an easy task if the need arises, due to the surge in Covid numbers, and possible lockdown. The students and lecturers have been mentally and physically prepared to hold online classes again if the need arises. They have experience both in offline and online classes, due to the past two waves of the pandemic,” said Yadapadithaya.

National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK) Surathkal, which is now operating in both online and offline modes, is also ready to hold classes in an online mode completely, in case the need arises. K Umamaheshwar Rao, director, NITK Surathkal, speaking to the media, had said that currently first and second-year BTech students attend classes online. The third-year and students pursuing higher studies, including MTech and postdoctoral students, attend offline classes. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about the Covid situation. All our students, including first-year BTech students, are fully vaccinated,” said Umamaheshwar Rao.

Meanwhile, Kasturba Medical College, which has been holding theory classes in the online mode ever since the pandemic hit the country, will continue with the arrangement, said college dean B Unnikrishnan speaking to the media. “Only practical classes and hospital visits are offline. To avoid crowding, we have reduced the group size to a maximum of five students,” he added.

In conclusion, about The Good, Bad and Ethical Issues of Online Education – Online education is a trend that has been increasing in popularity since pandemic times. The question that lingers in the minds of parents and educators is whether or not online courses can give students the same discussion-rich, well-rounded learning experience as traditional “brick and mortar” classrooms can. Sources reveal that online courses, especially college online courses, can be quite beneficial for a busy student. The courses are flexible as far as time management because students don’t have to commute and sit in a class at a given time during a week. Online classes can often be more cost-effective than traditional classes and can be done at a pace the student is comfortable with.

Regarding the drawbacks- While logistically sound, taking too many online courses or having poor online instruction can be harmful to a student’s future. One of the most glaring issues with online education is the lack of interpersonal communication. If an online course has any sort of discussion element, it is usually written discussion in the form of an online post. For students looking to become successful outside the classroom in any career that requires verbal communication skills, this could be considered a significant drawback. One of the most concerning ethical questions facing the credibility of online education is that of rigour and grade-level expectations.

Note: Photos used for Illustration Only

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