Online education ineffective for children

Online education ineffective for children: Azim Premji University study

November 17, 2020

Azim Premji University released its Field Study on ‘Myths of Online Education’ in Bangalore today. The report is available online at the University’s website.

The study was undertaken in 5 states across 26 districts covering 1,522 schools. These public schools have more than 80,000 students. The objective of the study was to understand the experience of children and teachers with online education.

The study finds an overwhelming majority of the teachers and parents stating that the online mode is inadequate and ineffective for education. The study also reveals that most parents are eager to send their children to schools with necessary health safeguards and do not think that the health of their children would be affected in such an event.

‘Online education is ineffective because of the basic character of education, and not merely because of lack of access to the net and online resources, especially for school-age children. Education requires physical presence, attention, thought and emotions, all to be sewn towards learning goals, step-by step, often back-and-forth, and differently for each student. This requires intense verbal and non-verbal interactions amongst teachers and students, which is possible only in actual classes.’ said Anurag Behar, Vice Chancellor, Azim Premji University.

Rahul Mukhopadhyay and Aanchal Chomal, from the research team that conducted the study, noted that “the study revealed the ineffectiveness of remote learning solutions in providing meaningful learning opportunities, exclusion of majority of children due to poor access, and the professional frustration of teachers.

The key findings of the study are: 

  1. Online education is ineffective: Teachers shared their professional frustration of conducting online classes. More than 80% teachers expressed the impossibility of maintaining emotional connect with children during such classes, thus eliminating the very basis of education, and more than 90% teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible during online classesParents have echoed this sentiment with almost 70% being of the opinion that online classes are not effective for the learning of their children.
  2. Inadequate access: More than 60% children cannot access online education opportunities; reasons for this include non-availability of or inadequate number of smartphones for dedicated use or sharing, and difficulty in using the apps for online learning. The issue of access is further exacerbated for children with disabilities; 90% teachers with children with disabilities in their regular classes found them unable to participate in online classes.
  3. Parents’ overwhelming support to reopen schools: Almost 90% of parents are willing to send their children to school if the health of their children is taken care of when schools reopen.

The report underlines the urgent need to reopen schools in a phased manner with appropriate precautions for the health and well-being of both children and teachers. In the interim period, teachers could be encouraged to facilitate community-based solutions for direct interactions with children with all necessary precautions. 

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