More digital platforms and so are distractions!
The laptop screen beams and comes alive as the children switch on their videos one after the other
The laptop screen beams and comes alive as the children switch on their videos one after the other. After a few moments, the teacher shares the screen to take attendance before starting the class. While some of the students stuff their mouth with the last morsel of their breakfast placed on their desk, a few others quickly set the books aside required for the day. But ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and risk of infection continues to loom large, students got accustomed to the new 'normal', saying yes to every gadget that comes their way. Apart from the laptop, there are also WhatsApp messages and lessons downloaded on the tab which need to be checked at frequent intervals.
Welcome to virtual learning
Whether one likes it or not, parents need to accept the fact that the online mode of learning can never match-up to the real one. Years back, life was so full. There were no WhatsApp messages then that kept drawing attention once every few seconds. No tweets to post or nothing to upload on FaceBook or check the number of likes garnered for the new photo uploaded on Instagram. Yet, life was so simple and lively in more ways than one.
The smell of the powdered chalk that falls off the blackboard while rubbing it with a duster has now been replaced with just another screen. The bags stuffed with new sets of books for the academic year are now uploaded in the form of a document or a screenshot or a PDF on the desktop. But the biggest concern lies in retaining the attention of the students while imparting virtual lessons. "Despite so many platforms facilitated to our kids, distractions supersede their focus. Every month, we need to set a part of our income aside to cater to the gadget requirement of our children studying Classes VIII and IX," explains N Bindhu, a parent. Apparently, with liberal access to the Internet more than ever before, there is a lurking fear among parents about its safe use and the potential online risks associated with it.
Slowly but surely, children are getting themselves distanced from reading books. "Holding a book has now become a passe. My son says even extra information about the syllabus is available in educational apps. So, for him, it is either a tab or a laptop when it comes to studies. For entertainment, he prefers my mobile phone or television," elaborates G Sai Lakshmi, another parent.
The need to monitor browsing activity of the wards turns out to be a common discussion among parents when they meet on a common platform. "When I check with my daughter what she was typing on my mobile, she would say she's connecting with her friend about doubts related to the subjects. But when I crosscheck, her chats revolve around new movies watched recently, new songs by BTS and the likes," says P Ramesh Kumar, an entrepreneur.
When classes are often limited to four walls of the room, experts lay emphasis on keeping tabs on browsing activity of the children at regular intervals, creating a friendly ambience for them, helping them understand the importance of doing a digital detox, minimising the screen space and preparing a schedule for the day with specific time spent before the screen, books, etc., so that they help in engaging them in a constructive manner.