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Editor's Column

Online Classes: A Yes Or A No?

11-May-2020

By Aryama Upadhyaya

Do you remember when we got ‘Online Class vs Traditional Class’ as an essay topic? It was one of the popular topics for a debate competition. Now, we’ve actually had the opportunity to experience online classes due to an unfortunate condition in the world. So, which one’s better?

We did a little survey to evaluate both the practical and the social efficiency of online classes. But we were shocked to find out that besides the pandemic, the students and instructors are still unsure if these online classes can fully replace a traditional classroom. Is the concept behind running online classes still a better option then?

Students’ Perspective:

Out of 74 responses we got, students mostly prefer the platform Zoom(40). However, Google Meet(23) and Amazon Chime(16) come after that.

Smoothness of Classes

Theory classes and practical classes have different impacts when conducted online. Theory classes are basically explanation and presentation. Theory classes in fact, are more convenient online since it saves travel time. According to the survey, two-third of the students agree that theory classes can be run smoothly through online platforms.

However, the concept of taking practical classes online is definitely not feasible and not effective enough since it’s just like watching YouTube videos. How would a medical student conduct medical practice online? Also, the teacher-student interaction and participation ultimately will be reduced. Our survey tells almost 50% students do not like the idea of online practical classes.

Benefits of Online Learning

Students have cited some positive aspects of online classes. When we’re all at our homes and comfortable in our rooms, we can learn in a pressure free environment. We can concentrate wholly on the lecture and there will be very less disturbance. According to the survey, two-third of the students think that the pressure free environment is the greatest benefit to online learning.

Another positive side is that the instructor and the students have a sense of community. It gives them hope that they are together even if they are all separate. During this pandemic, an hour or 2 hours long lecture could give mental and emotional strength to everyone.

Challenges of Online Learning

The most preferred app is Zoom but yet it has a certain time limit if you don’t own a pro account. It has the time limit of 40 minutes for one session. Further, communication during lectures could be problematic since there is no physical presence which makes it hard to cooperate.

However, according to the responses, the biggest drawback is the unfortunate technical problems. The biggest reason is the unstable internet connection during the day time. Due to such disturbances, the students find it difficult to raise their queries.

See what some students have to say about online classes:

“Online classes are good but it totally depends upon the course and the instructor. Some do it the best way and it feels even more convenient than the on - person classes.”

“It saves time compared to traditional lectures. However, trying to bring the entire classroom lecture online will be ineffective for all students. I think a better approach would be for lecturers to assign topics of study beforehand with adequate notes and assignments for students to do their own research. Then, the online classes can serve as a platform to review and discuss.”

Instructors’ Perspective:

Out of 30 responses we got, the platforms preferred by the instructors are Zoom(14) and Google Meet(15).

Smoothness of Classes

In the context of theory and practical classes, the instructors have a similar opinion to that of students. More than 80% of the instructors agree that theory classes can run smoothly through online platforms and they feel comfortable conducting those classes. However, the majority of instructors do not agree that practical classes can be run smoothly online.

Benefits of Online Learning

From the instructors’ perspective, they think that the Q&A sessions conducted online are more comfortable than in traditional classes. Our survey tells that three-fourth of the instructors agree on this.

Moreover, the greatest benefit is that study resources and teaching materials can easily be provided to the students. It was one hectic job for teachers earlier, however it can be shared easily in one platform now. 

Challenges of Online Learning

Communication is key for a good lecture but teachers find it difficult to socialize with the students in an online classroom. Furthermore, due to technical issues like unstable internet connection and time limit, the teachers believe that the course cannot be completed sometimes in a given time frame. 

The following graph suggests that the instructors believe that both of them are major issues of online learning.

See what some instructors have to say about online classes:

“Online classes are useful to some extent but not the substitute of the real classroom experience.”

“Online studying is a very good platform for learning when we are physically apart. Here, we can practice distance socializing instead of social distancing.”

The survey was conducted in Deerwalk Institute of Technology among the students and instructors. From the survey, we can conclude that the students and the teachers agree that online classes do bring in some positive factors, most importantly, the time-saving factor. Online learning saves travel time and is less hectic when it comes to time management. 

Some renowned examinations like IBT have always been conducted online. Online platforms are simpler and easier to conduct from anywhere.

"Where there is a will, there is a way" - Pauline Kael

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