Online teaching is a challenge

MUSCAT: Online teaching is a challenge for everyone – teachers, students, and parents.

Teachers are exerting more due to enhanced workload of planning, preparation, implementation, correction, clarification, virtual evaluation, and assessment.

“Lots of challenges,” admitted an Omani teacher Huzaim al Balushi and said, “Online teaching post-COVID-19 is entirely different from what we are trained to.”

“No teacher can control the children online for more than 45 minutes, and preparation for teaching without becoming self-conscious in front of mobile cameras is a daunting task.”

Today most of the children have pads, laptops, and tabs and they are using technology all the more. They have access to almost all apps and they can be exposed to both good and bad elements without our knowledge, according to Huzaim.

“There is a big difference between teaching online and teaching in an actual classroom, as different skills are required for a digital classroom, says a teacher from an expatriate school.

“First, we were not used to it and we had to get accustomed to the system with lots of persistence. Secondly, we are losing the close contact with the children since they are not taught in a classroom atmosphere. Thirdly, looking at all 25 to 30 children’s faces is a strenuous task and the communication thread is often missing,” another teacher said, adding that yet another challenge is some children playing with the microphone and camera, sending a chat message to one another.”

Parents are also equipping themselves with the technical know-how of digital training, the new normal for the education sector.

“Children are being introduced to a system which they were never used to and it is just a matter of time before they get used to it. Gone are the days when parents had better control over kids wasting time over technical gizmos whereas we are asking them to use phones, tabs, and laptops for studies,” said Azra Aleem, a parent.

However, increased usage of digital mediums is not without drawbacks, according to health experts. Their concerns about online education range from brain development to postural issues. They say that increased digital use can affect a student’s physical and mental health development.

“Millions of children are at increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during the lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic”, said a report from UNICEF published in April 2020.

“Attending school on computer or coaching poses a lot of mental and physical problems,” says Dr Dilip Singhvi, Specialist Internal Medicine.

“Students have to constantly concentrate which needs mental strain and sitting long hours on chairs may give body ache, eye problems, headache, etc. Younger children needed to be trained specially as most of them may not be used to sitting for such long hours.