Kathmandu: After the closure of academic institutions due to the covid-19 pandemic, the practice of conducting online classes started globally. The schools in Nepal also followed suit and started virtual classes for their students. Primarily, private schools were involved in adopting the online classes. Such online classes have been running for almost a year now and are garnering mixed reviews concerning their effectiveness. However, studies show that most of the students consider online classes to be ineffective.
According to a study conducted by Charles Koch Foundation and College Pulse, about 33% of students say that shifting to the online platform is helpful because it enables students to learn at their own pace. But the two-third (67%) of the students contradict the idea. However, the same report reads that 63% of the students feel online learning could be improved using better technological platforms.
“The effectiveness of online learning depends on the class. The classes that try to mimic exactly how normal classes were run end up being really unenjoyable and ineffective. But the classes that change their format and allow students to work at their own pace were actually somewhat better than in-person classes”, the report quotes a statement by New York-based Skidmore College.
Not only students but teachers also find it challenging to conduct online classes. Aisha Poudel, a teacher at the school in Bhaktapur, says that it is very difficult to get the students’ attention in online classes.
Spriya Chettri, a 10th-grade student from a school in Kathmandu, feels that online classes are not an appropriate platform for effective learning, and her learning through them is not productive enough. “The online classes are unproductive and haven’t allowed me to learn efficiently. If there will be an examination based on classes conducted virtually, many students will get in trouble,” she added.
Not only students but teachers also find it challenging to conduct online classes. Aisha Poudel, a teacher at the school in Bhaktapur, says that it is very difficult to get the students’ attention in online classes. “Almost all the students just open the class on their laptops and then play games, listen to music or perform various unrelated activities. I feel very demotivated and discouraged for not being able to deliver productive classes. I believe these online classes will deteriorate students’ interest in studies, and similarly, teachers will also lose their motivation for teaching,” said Poudel.
Although the platform for learning has changed, the methodology of teaching remains the same. The students in the virtual class are not entertained by lecture-based methodology; the teacher must avoid such practices”, said Wagle.
As the online classes are getting mixed reviews regarding their effectiveness, unlike Spriya, Kamal Kshatri, a master’s level student at Tribhuvan University, enjoys virtual classes equally as a physical class.
According to Kshatri, online classes have many facilities; they provide recordings of the class and offer various learning materials that allow students to study at their own pace. “The online classes also facilitate learning when you are traveling. You don’t need to worry about being physically present at your school or college, which is such a huge relief. The only issues with the online classes are the occasional power cuts and internet disconnection,” says Kshatri.
Educationalist Mana Prasad Wagle opines that the digital divide and the inability of students and teachers to adapt to new learning methods are the reasons behind the ineffectiveness of online classes. According to him, teachers should use various art, graphics, and sounds available online to make the lessons more effective and exciting.
“We are very new to online classes, this has been totally a new practice in the education sector for most of the teachers and students, and neither of them are trained for it. Although the platform for learning has changed, the methodology of teaching remains the same. The students in the virtual class are not entertained by lecture-based methodology; the teacher must avoid such practices”, said Wagle.