When the computer screen doubles as a blackboard

Online education can’t replace the effortless transition of knowledge from one brain to another in a familiar classroom

Chenab | June 17, 2020


#HRD ministry   #online education   #technology   #education   #Coronavirus   #Covid-19   #Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal  
GN Photo
GN Photo

How does video-conferencing affect us mentally, behaviourally and physically? Is it counter-productive? Do we have the technological infrastructure to facilitate this transition from the physical to the online world? Sadly, the answers to these questions are not promising.

Students all over the world are sitting in a corner and staring at miniature screens, seeing their pixelated teachers and classmates, for hours at a stretch. We are not ready for this. Online learning is worlds apart from its traditional, “classroom-oriented” counterpart. It takes years if not months to make a constructive online course, which involves hours of testing and refining. But the Covid-19 disaster has compelled schools to cram the traditional approach into the box of internet learning and create a monster of a system. Teachers are making students glare at homemade presentations with the cursor rolling through the screen, spewing at them unintelligible jerking words, while constantly expecting them to pay attention and respond.

We Homo sapiens are social organisms. Our brains thrive on emotions. Every second that we spend with someone, our brain looks for signs and cues to make sense of the other person and is extremely sensitive to other person’s facial expressions. A lowered brow or maybe a buccal twitch may be enough to trigger the brain’s limbic system and instigate an appropriate external response, the basis of all face-to-face interactions.

But this complex psycho-chemical subconscious process is terminated once we look at the blurring, freezing and jerking, pixelated faces of our known ones and we are left in a confused and somewhat lost state of daydreaming which fills the informational void caused by the detachment from the external world. I call this the ‘Information Hole’ as we are clueless about what the other person is feeling, thinking and, in extreme cases, doing.

The foremost and perhaps the most noticeable consequence of this is general tiredness. This happens because our brain is burdening itself persistently by searching for meaning in the other person’s eyes, only to fail hopelessly. Drowsiness is also a symptom. The extreme tiredness fails to yield a beneficial nap as melatonin production is inhibited by the blue light emitted by the computer screen, making the person even more exhausted. This vicious cycle engulfs all forms of creativity, productivity and even sensibility, thereby, making novel ideas few and far between.

But online learning, at least for now, is unavoidable. So what can we do to mitigate the grievous impacts of this? The least we can do is to linger on a little longer, perhaps till the summer break and hope for the situation to normalize by then. Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal, union minister of human resource development, has hinted that schools could reopen with thirty percent students at a time or with a “shift system” which involves letting a particular student attend school on alternate days, limiting the strength of the student body at a given time. But the theories that propose online learning may completely replace all face-to-face student-teacher interaction are deeply questionable.

In all fairness, it may remain invaluable as a tool facilitating long-distance learning for those with limited access to good teachers due to geographical remoteness or any other constraints. It is also a possibility that, through technological advancements, it may go hand in hand with the traditional approach, making students experience the best of both worlds, while still maintaining their composure. But it can never truly replace the effortless transition of knowledge from one brain to another, which takes place in a familiar classroom, the time-tested approach which is seen in all forms of cultures imaginable, spanning from the time we lived in caves to the present day.
 

Comments

 

Other News

How much time do you spend talking on phone?

How much time do Indians spend talking on phone? It is on average 761 minutes per month, according to a new report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The telecom regulator released its report, titled ‘The Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators: July-Septemb

“Developing public health infrastructure key to sustainable healthcare for all”

Renowned cardiologist Dr Ramakanta Panda has said that the pandemic has exposed the inadequacy of existing healthcare systems and it is wrong to draw comparisons with Korea, a country with the population equal to that of a single Indian state. While speaking to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Gove

SC-appointed panel on farm laws holds first meet

The committee of experts appointed by the supreme court to deliberate with the stakeholders on the new farm laws held its first meeting here Tuesday, with one of its members saying that all stakeholders, including individual farmers, will be heard. Hearing a petition on the farm laws enacted

India’s glitch-free vaccination gathers pace

The nationwide vaccination campaign launched Saturday, the largest such exercise in the world, has started setting new benchmarks, with vaccines administered to 2,24,301 beneficiaries in the first two days. “India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 v

Maharashtra to spend Rs 2,500 crore to augment, develop power infrastructure

The Maharashtra government has announced a spending of Rs 2,500 crore annually to develop infrastructure of state-owned distribution company Mahavitaran (MSEDCL).   Out of the total amount, Rs 1,500 crore will be spent on energisation of conventional agriculture pumps and Rs 1,000 crore

Launched: Largest vaccination drive in history

India on Saturday began the massive vaccination drive against Covid-19, as prime minister Narendra Modi paid tributes the ‘corona warriors’. “Such a vaccination drive at such a massive scale was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than 3 cro

Visionary Talk with Dr Ramakanta Panda, VC & MD Asian Heart Institute





Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter