The Human Resource Development Ministry is working on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for conducting online classes. The measures are being taken to make sure students don’t have to sit in front of computers and mobile phones to attend online classes and acquire skills.
As schools continue to be closed for over three months, the COVID-19 situation has directed a switch from classroom teaching to online learning. Certain guidelines are being formulated by keeping the complaints from parents in view. The complaints were mostly about schools conducting online classes like regular school, which has increased the screen time of children.
Some complaints were also about some households having just one device and it can only be used by one child at a time to attend the classes. Several complaints regarding the increase in screen time for students due to the online classes were also made.
A senior official said that the pandemic has suddenly made students dependent on electronic devices for the whole day. Whereas, before they didn’t even permit mobile phones within the school premises and hindered their use for students. In order to assure a healthy approach, a balance has to be maintained.
As per the official, the guidelines are being made in consultation with several stakeholders. Online classes of limited duration will be suggested to ensure students are not sitting before electronic devices for long hours.
The online platform used for imparting classes will enable students to learn at their own pace rather than creating a strict classroom-bound approach. The guidelines will also formulate numerous prototypes for various portions from those who have access to digital conveniences to those who just have access to a radio set or not even that.
The main focus of the guidelines would be to prioritize the mental health of students, dealing with cyber-security problems, and assuring a comfortable and accessible learning atmosphere for students.
All the Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16, when a countrywide lockdown was announced by the Centre as a part of measures to prevent the COVID-19 outburst. A lockdown was announced nationwide on March 24, which came into effect the other day.
While the government has lessened restrictions, universities and schools will still remain closed. At a recent virtual conference by Ashoka University on the future of schools in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School Education Secretary Anita Karwal spoke about these guidelines.
She exclaimed that due to the pandemic, digital education has seen an accumulation and an upsurge on the way some schools are doing it. Many schools have just copied the time table and the child is spending seven to eight hours in front of the device.
Initially, when the push on e-learning began, accessing e-learning was the main focus. Technology without equity will not lead our children to learn effectively.
She added that the quality of digital education is an important aspect, which we had hindered before the pandemic occurred. They realized that whatever they put in the digital education universe has to be of the highest quality – which is engaging, interacting, and also to articulate with the stakeholders.