Well, it is kind of puzzling, right? The lockdown and the social distancing norms created by this pandemic has acquainted us with boundless educational opportunities the internet has to offer. Even though distance learning was common, it never was approached by so many before the outbreak.
Evlyn Ann Joseph
Online educational sites could not get a better time to augment their business and who doesn’t want to achieve worthy certificates that can boost their CVs, by sitting at home. Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, etc. are some well-known massive open online course providers, and Byju’s, Unacademy, Toppr, Vedantu, etc. are among India’s most popular Edtech startups. The user base of these startups all together doubled by 50% from 45 million to 90 million and it is predicted that India’s edtech market will touch $3.5 billion by 2022.
Online tutorials, presentations, e-books, educational videos, tests, projects, we have missed none of them even when all the educational institutions across the country are closed. From attending a lecture with a room full of students and an actual teacher to watching our lessons in live videos and listening to audio clips in our beds, yes, our mode of education got updated. Now the students can reach out to their teachers through several online platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and the list goes on. Even the absence of a teacher might not be that big of a deal because the internet has it all and if you have a mobile phone, laptop or iPad you are well equipped to start your new academic year. But, Can a screen with letters running over, compensate a teacher?
No, technology cannot replace a teacher or a school. It is an aid or a supplement to enhance our knowledge. Technology is helping us in all walks of our lives, and its contribution to the educational sector is priceless and admirable. It makes the learning process effortless and comfortable. It provides knowledge in a capsule form and gives us the advantage of easy access whenever we need it. Having said that, can you imagine an online course that merely provides you with the materials and no instructions? What if it just addresses you and you have no way to clear your doubts? This shows that even to conduct online classes or to succeed in an online course, you need some kind of guidance and that is what a teacher does. The videos you see, the audio clips you listen to, the lectures you attend, the presentations and pdfs you refer, all these are the works of a teacher. So you cannot eliminate the need of a teacher in the learning process.
Apart from being an inculcator, a teacher is our early mentor, motivator, and role model. From an early age, we are gifted with wonderful teachers who have the power to mold our characters. Their guidance, care, affection, and perseverance influence us throughout our lives. All of us will have a teacher, who is just like our mother. Her confidence and trust in you, her motivation, and her emotional support, might be the reason for your success. Teaching is more than a profession, it is a responsibility, and schools are more than powerhouses of knowledge; they are the breeding grounds of socially responsible citizens. This explains the courage Malala Yousafzai had when she preached to the world, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”.
Since the past five months, teachers from all across the country are acquainting themselves with the present technological advancements and ensuring that their students are receiving uninterrupted access to their lessons. They are not used to teaching in front of a lifeless audience, clearing doubts through voice notes and presenting screens instead of writing in blackboards, but they are trying their best. It is this sincerity and dedication that needs to be acknowledged. Can you get it online? Can technology relieve your emotional stress and caress you when you feel down? No, it can never replace a teacher.
Being a student is difficult. We need to be consistent and motivated. Online lectures are a short time alternative and it cannot ensure whether the student has properly grasped the concept. The follow-up mechanism is inefficacious and evaluation techniques are flawed. It can never substitute a classroom. A classroom is full of potential, and a teacher is capable of harnessing them and ensuring that it is properly employed. It is unimaginable for me to attend hours of classes without my friends pestering me or teasing each other or having a friendly talk with the teacher. Schools are our second home and a wired electronic device that runs in battery cannot be a fill-in. So, even though the situation asks for it, technology and gadgets can never be a replacement for schools or teachers.