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The PROs and CONs of online school

By LYNETTE MENEZES
July 20, 2020 08:21 IST
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'As parents can hear their child's responses, they get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses right away,' says Lynette Menezes.

Online school

*Photograph: Kind courtesy Jatin Patil

My daughter Maya just turned 6 and is in Grade 1.

For a child with perpetual respiratory issues during school, I am happy she hasn't been sick in four months. An all-time record!

But not being able to play outdoors or meet her friends made her sad and restless. So I was happy when online school started.

It keeps her occupied in the mornings and that frees up my time to focus on other things.

Does it work?

I believe every age group has its own challenges and there are different factors that make virtual school a success.

Having a good educator, interesting learning content and strong bandwidth/network makes a huge difference. Provided the teacher has a strong, clear voice, good communication and teaching skills.

Weekly online meetings with parents help teachers understand what is working or not working for students.

Schools use synchronous or asynchronous methods to teach online. Maya's school -- JBCN International -- uses both, to teach the syllabus as well as extra-curriculars such as meditation, dance, drama etc.

Quizzes, videos, story-telling, and other fun activities make it more exciting for her age group.

In her virtual class, there are 15 learners in a batch. They raise their hands to respond or to show the teachers what they have done.

But despite the small size, attending to all the kids at the same time via one screen is tough.

Sometimes teachers can't hear or misinterpret what the kids are saying. And it's impossible to know if all kids are learning.

For those who are easily distracted, one of the parents has to sit near them to ensure they are focused on what is being taught.

Maya has two 10-minute breaks, but sometimes she gets tired after the first hour itself. But if the subject is interesting enough like a learning video, she will sit through the entire session.

On the other hand, her online hobby class, which has just 2 kids, works extremely well for her.

She loves it because the pace is slower, more comfortable and she gets more attention from the teacher. So it's almost like a one on one, face to face communication.

I definitely prefer regular school. But with this endless lockdown, there doesn't seem to be much of a choice.

Some learning is better than none at all. At least with synchronous learning, seeing her teacher online, encourages her to learn and write.

Some pros and cons:

Advantages Disadvantages
Kids don't have to wake up early. No hurry to rush to school. Some kids tend to be inattentive or tired after a while.
No pick-ups/drops or follow up with buses. Kids have to be on mute all the time (until they are called by the teacher) to prevent online disturbance.
Works well for children who are sharp, very focused and attentive. Sometimes learners miss out on information due to congestion or network drops.
Makes them more independent. The presentations and videos shared on screen are not clear at all times.
As parents can hear their child's responses, they get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses right away. Assessing learning gets difficult as kids writing, aptitude and learning speeds differ. Unless it's an online test which digitally records answers and time taken.
If the child is struggling to understand a concept, the parent and teacher can help them comprehend and improve their skills. Prolonged screen time is a major issue for most parents, due to eye strain as well as attention issues.
The presentations, videos and content can be downloaded and taught at anytime. Laptops are expensive; some kids have to use a mobile instead which makes it difficult to see notes or smaller print.
Kids get a chance to spend more family time and are more comfortable at home. Parents have to spend additional time uploading and downloading tasks and assignments.
  Kids miss meeting their school friends and sharing lunch with them

It may seem like the cons outweigh the pros in this list.

But what's more important is whether your child likes virtual school or not.

Maya misses her friends a lot but doesn't mind online school, at least most of the time. And that's what counts.

*Kindly note that the image has been posted only for representational purposes.

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