Acceptance and Problems of Virtual vs. Traditional Learning among Undergraduate Students during COVID-19
Main author: Dr.P.Surekha, Head of the department, Department of Zoology, Dr.Lankapalli Bullayya College, Visakhapatnam. E mail:[email protected]
Co-Author: P.Adi Lakshmi Devi, Department of English, Dr.Lankapalli Bullayya College, Visakhapatnam.
Covid-19 pandemic has utterly disrupted the normal lifestyle of the people and education system across the globe, which raised the significant challenges for the education. The lockdown due to COVID -19 has largely affected the students as they are not allowed to interact on a one on one basis with their teachers. In India most of the educational institutions are based on traditional methods of learning where they follow the face to face lectures in a classroom. The shift in education from traditional classroom learning to virtual learning might be one of the largest educational experiments to date across the world and especially in India where teaching and learning is completely traditional. This situation challenged the education system and forced educators to shift to online mode of teaching. Many academic units have started blended learning, yet most of them stretch with old procedures as online teaching learning is technology based and also pretty experimental. The goal is not to replace traditional classrooms, instead to restructure the methodology of teaching and learning, preparing to bring the best of online education in the classroom by taking advantage of technology. The present study has been designed to understand students’ perspective, attitude, readiness and continuousness for online classes.
Covid -19, technology, virtual learning, online classes, interactive learning, internet connection, flexibility
Corona virus disease (COVID-19) also referred to as ‘2019 novel corona virus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ is a highly infectious disease caused by the virus named Corona virus according to WHO 2020(World Health Organisation 2020). This disease can be easily transmitted from person to person via their respiratory droplets and different contact routes like hand, nose and mouth Liu.et.al 2020. Transmission through droplets can occur from person to person. A person having severe respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, lung disorders can easily pass the infection to healthy person to whom they are in close contact. This infection can also be transmitted with the contact of physical objects and clothes of the infected person.Org.et.al 2020.
The government and different countries are working world wide to control the situation and to limit spread of this disease, by social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene measures. There has been 5.0 lockdowns in our country since March 2020 during which people are asked to sit at home. The life of every individual in the country has been largely affected and the life of student and teacher is no less affected. When each sector was taking different measures to continue with their sales and management, managing education sector remained as a question. Teachers need to learn new methods of teaching and students have to develop a different discipline while attending the classes. We are used to the mantra ‘stay home, stay safe’ which slowly glided into ‘Work from home’ and ‘online classes’. Even though online trading of buying and selling things was already there before the pandemic, recent studies shows, there has been 55% increase in online business. Corona pandemic proved that most of the work can be done through online. Thanks to the technology to make us keep going to live during the lockdown.
For years, schools and colleges practiced the classroom teaching which includes one-on -one interaction of students and teachers. This lockdown due to Covid-19 largely affected the study lines of students as they are no more to interact on one on one basis with teachers. At this time of crisis, it becomes challenging to keep the education continuous and unaffected due to disastrous pandemic. Various studies have been conducted where it appears that different institutions have been adopting and doing well with this new learning environment. Oblinger & Kidwell 2000.There are varieties of platforms in order to do online teaching and learning projects, during this time of crisis Dutton,Dutton&Perry2002,Epper&Gaen 2003. As a result of this approach, being safe in the home premises, students have the facilities to progress in their educational field. Robinson 1996, Wojcciechowski&Palmer2005.
Apart from different advantages there are certain challenges which the online mode of teaching and learning throws at faculty members as well as students. Palloff & Pratt2003.Students have been taking up different courses to gain more knowledge. But the system of taking online classes in colleges for regular course completion was not adopted in many institutions across the country before Corona pandemic. This has lead to uphold digital system of teaching as well as learning.
Learning is a continuous process amidst the lockdown. The government and private institutions transformed from classroom teaching to online teaching to keep the learning process on go. In many institutions including IIMs and IITs have been taken leap from conventional classroom teaching to digital teaching. They have started teaching their students through online classes to reduce global Covid-19 pandemic adverse affect on students’ education.
A multipronged strategy is necessary to manage the crisis and built a resilient Indian education system in long term.Covid-19 pandemic has forced educational institutions worldwide to adopt online mode of teaching in a bid to ensure that learning continues unhindered while the transition from offline to online has been forced one, necessitated by the virus.
The world of education has been greatly affected by corona virus . This pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future. Needless to say this pandemic has transformed the centuries old chalk talk teaching model to one driven by technology. Learning online has its own advantages over traditional classroom learning. Online learning involves the use of less paper and it involves saving time with easy and quick access to a wide source of information. Along with this, student can study anywhere and anytime with few exceptions Carnevale 2000, Dutt0n et al 2002. Digital learning has led to reduction in cost and has taken the impact on students as well as teachers to another level.
However, it has been observed that the things taught through online mode have a lot many challenges for the educator, as well as the learner. Howell, Williams & Lindsay, 2003. Learning digitally will be a new face of Indian education. It will be useful and constructive means for both teachers and students in coming years. There has been a recent acceptance of the online teaching-learning process by the students across the country. Teachers and students are now largely joining different platforms through which e-learning can be easily done. The future education is going to rely heavily on blended learning approach that combines best of both offline and online, preparing to bring best of online education in to classroom, taking advantage of the technology at hand. With the hybrid model of learning, where students come in contact will get a superlative, flexible and engaging experience. At this point of time, where the entire nation is fighting to win over the corona, it is very important to keep an effective education process continuous in which students enjoy and gain form. The present study was designed to understand the students’ perspective, attitude and readiness about the online classes being conducted.
A survey has been conducted on the acceptance of online classes during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to the undergraduate students of Dr. Lankapalli Bullayya College, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The college is located in an urban area, heart of the city. A questionnaire in the form of Google forms was sent to undergraduate students of Humanities and Sciences (B.A and B.Sc). The questionnaire designed for the students contain 10 questions. The data obtained through the survey was analysed and results were calculated.
To cover forty percent of the syllabus through online mode, students were given 3-4 online classes per day for five weeks in the month of September 2020. Online teaching was done using Zoom and Google Meet applications. In online teaching, teaching aids used were blackboard, and screen share facility available in the applications and videos and PPts were uploaded to Google class rooms of each section of students depending on their core groups. These videos are prepared using Open Broadcaster Software.
Results & Discussion
The information obtained from the survey shows that the students of age group who participated in the survey varies between 18 and 22 years. On an average, 40% of the total strength of the students attended online classes. This shows that less than half of the total strength of the students attended the classes. The number of students who responded to the questionnaire is 243 including boys and girls. Among them 71.8% students liked online classes and 28.2% disliked online learning. 68% of the students are willing to continue online classes and 32% are not willing to continue. As far as the satisfactory level is concern, 13.2% are completely satisfied, 24.7% are mostly satisfied, 38.3% are somewhat satisfied, 14.4% are somewhat unsatisfied and the remaining percent fall under mostly unsatisfied and completely unsatisfied. If the effective means of learning is concerned, 48.5% is through Power Point Presentation (PPT) with audio and 22.2% is through videos uploaded to Google class rooms, 22.2 % is through direct online teaching, and video conferences and 7% is only through PPTs. For the reason they like to continue with online classes, 119 students opted for “the classes are limited” which is 49% which is nearly half of the students, 68 students opted for “No need to visit college campus” which is 28% and 65 students opted for “Interactions” which is 26.7%. Remaining percentage goes to “necessity”, “live classes are better than online”, “we can skip the classes in personal” etc which got 1% each. The major drawback of online classes is poor internet connection which is 69.2%. Next major drawback is lack of two way communication which is 14.2% followed by no co-curricular activities, and language, the percentage being lesser than fourteen.
An oral enquiry about online classes to the teachers showed that, they have been introduced to online teaching only during lock down. Many teachers are not aware of the different online applications available for interactive based learning. Very few teachers had knowledge of webinars and they never took online classes before COVID-19 pandemic. Less time period is given for each class, so there is no time space for activities during the class.
Analysing the result of the survey while keeping in mind the above limitations from the teachers, the result shows that even though very less percentage of students answered the questionnaire, online teaching is welcomed and accepted by majority of the students who attended the classes. Large percentage (more than 76%) of the students was satisfied with online learning. Students are also willing to continue with online classes. Looking into the drawbacks, most of the students were not able to attend due to lack of proper internet connection. The percentage would have been more, if the students could afford better internet plans. Another drawback is, there is no two way communication. If teachers adopt interactive teaching in online classes using many applications available, the percent of the student attendance will be surely high. Students want limited classes (2-4) per day. (In normal days, they have 5 classes in the morning and science students have practical classes in the afternoon two times in a week). They are interested in digital notes uploaded to their respective Google class room provided by the teachers. This would help them in segregation and proper storage of the material of each subject.
The other side of the result also shows that, online classes are not suitable for regular classes where there should be at least 5 classes per day in order to complete the syllabus. When the teachers were asked about their experience in taking online classes, teachers’ opinion that, it is not possible to conduct activities in online classes as the time is very less to complete the syllabus in semester pattern. Online is highly welcome with webinars, seminars, conferences, where there is flexibility in time allotted, where there is time space for the participants to speak, and conduct activities to make them interactive based sessions.
The survey is confined only to two streams in under graduation (UG) from one college in a particular urban area where the internet connectivity is good and the students can afford internet connection. The limitation leaves scope for further study that it can be extended to other groups/streams in the same college or the study can include the opinion of school students of lower and higher classes. The study can be further extended to the experience and opinion on online evaluation.
Online classes among undergraduate students in the college are not completely unwelcome. They are accepted and willing to continue by the students, provided they have good internet connection. Classes are more enjoyable if they are interactive or activity based. Online mode of learning and teaching is suitable for webinars, seminars conferences and even some workshops. As we are picking up with online teaching, in future we cannot completely avoid online learning rather we need to accept blended learning with more percent of real classes than virtual classes, more percent of synchronous learning rather than asynchronous learning. We can use skills leant in online teaching to restructure the methodology of teaching and learning, preparing to bring the best of online education in the classroom by taking advantage of technology.
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