7 Myths about online education
COVID-19 has drastically affected all sectors including education and the world is searching for new strategies to cope with this pandemic and its aftermath. Higher educational institutions are now looking at online teaching-learning as a window of hope. But sceptics and cynics have created myths about web learning, which we need to debunk so that we can transition effectively.
Online teaching is meant for the young and techno-savvy
- The fact is that everyone — young and old, and those who are conversant with and averse to technology — has to embrace technology and live with it. All teachers have to make a clear and conscious shift despite their age and attitude. Successful people in any walk of life are those who love and welcome change.
Online teaching is only a stopgap arrangement
- Some feel that when normalcy returns, it will be back to chalk and talk. So, why bother to learn new teaching methodologies? The fact is that online teaching has already become an integral part of our educational system and irrevocable changes have been made in our teaching-learning process. The winners are those who embrace technology and look at online education not as a long-term game changer.
Online teaching is not egalitarian
- Some argue that online teaching subtly favours those who have access to high technologies and turns down the disadvantaged sections of society. There may be some truth here but the larger fact is that online education is meant for all. In most cases, all that the students need is a smartphone and most have smartphones with Internet connectivity. It is true that in rural and semi-urban areas, high speed Internet may not be available around the clock. But online teaching, especially the asynchronous mode, will certainly help all students because of its flexibility.
Technology will eventually replace the teacher
- There is an innate fear in teachers that technology will eventually replace them. Teachers need to be reassured that they cannot be replaced but also need to be told that their role has changed significantly. Earlier, they were seen as the repositories of knowledge. But now they are seen as syllabus designers, content developers, knowledge sharers — all through the medium of technology. Therefore, they need to develop a different set of skills.
Students prefer face-to-face interaction, not online teaching
- This stems from a wishful thinking that teachers are indispensable and, without them, the teaching-learning system would collapse. The youth are not only conversant with technology but are also willing to embrace change in any form. They constantly look forward to new ideas and love to experiment and innovate and, therefore, will not have major issues in switching over to online education. To these students, it is not a question of either/or but both technology and teachers.
Online teaching-learning is not as effective as face-to-face mode
- There are merits and demerits in both ways. But good teachers are always good, whatever the mode. A good teacher will always adjust the content and delivery according to the mode and will ensure that there isn’t a big gap between input and intake. Therefore, the question of which is a better mode doesn’t arise.
Degrees and diplomas obtained through online education are not valid
- In India, there is a reluctance to accept degrees and diplomas earned through the online mode, which are deemed inferior. Even in the job market, online degrees and diplomas are not treated on par with regular degrees and diplomas.
Two clarifications are required. The kind of online e-learning that we are discussing is, in fact, a blend of online and offline. Face-to-face interaction is supplemented with online teaching. Second is that, technically, there is no distinction between the degrees and diplomas earned through online or offline education. Both are virtually the same.
In this new ecosystem created by this pandemic, teachers have to constantly reinvent themselves to address the exigencies born of this crisis and offer students whatever is relevant and helps them adapt to a crisis thereby making them resourceful and resilient.