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Challenges in online education system during COVID-19

Digital education system in Pakistan: a success or a failure?

By Aiza Ijaz

The whole world is going through a dark period with the deadly corona virus pandemic and Pakistan is no exception. It is among those countries that are severely infected by this. Along with the economy, it has affected the education sector of the country. Teachers have to now take online classes and it is proving to be a challenge for both students and teachers. The problem is, teachers are new with this method of teaching and are unable to deliver properly. Students on the other hand, are having difficulties in understanding and digesting this system as it takes some time to become used to something new.

On Friday, April 25, petition against online classes that was submitted in Lahore High Court had been rejected. Around that time, hashtag ‘#werejectonlineeducation’ became the top trend on twitter but went in vain. Students were clearly not happy and are still continuously trying to get rid of this mode of learning.

Taking an online class is much difficult than the traditional one. Interaction with the expression and body language is equally important along with voice and it is lacking in the online classes. Studying under the reflection of a physically present teacher is easier and is comfortable to communicate with. Similarly, teachers can better communicate and teach when the response from students comes in the form of gestures or nodding. Teachers can make students better understand about something when having face to face communication. Another challenge that teachers have to face is the lack of participation from students.

Internet facility is not available in many areas of Pakistan as it is not a tech-savvy country.  For conducting an online class, high speed internet is important and as we all know, it is not very common in Pakistan. Teachers are even sending recorded audios or videos thinking that their part is done and are least concerned about the feedback which is wrong on their part. Moreover, a particular traditional environment is needed for study and students do not get that at home, students can not make up their attitude towards study, due to disorganization which eventually results in non-serious behavior, this is a major challenge in online education system. Then, sometimes there are availability issues as online study does not follow a strict schedule or time-table. Some students do not have accessibility to the required equipment for class.

During online education system, another problem that is being seen is ethical issues. There have been cases where students are making fun of each other or even of teacher using vulgar language by hiding their identities. Online meeting applications are often crashed or showing errors as they are loaded nowadays, some speculations around are that some apps even misuse consumer’s personal data or storage which also cause discomfort among students, this is another hurdle in online learning.

People are scared of this destructive virus. Due to shutdown, living in isolation has resulted in the disturbance of sleeping and eating patterns, everyone is flooded by a layer of homesickness and depression is hitting differently this time. Laziness has taken over humans. In this gloomy situation around, it is difficult for teachers to teach with full potential and students to pay attention and actively participate.

In this present era, where everything is getting digitized, these traditional classes are going to be transformed into online classes sooner or later. COVID-19 is spreading at much higher rate in Pakistan; it is not yet confirmed when the institutions are going to be opened. Now that the situation has forced us to use this style of learning through virtual world, so we should take full advantage of it because, something is better than nothing.

The writer is a student of MSc Digital Media at Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

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