Holding students accountable amid covid-19

Autonomy is more about recognizing the boundaries than to have no boundaries
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Covid-19 has affected us in different forms at different levels. It has compelled the human race to acknowledge and accept unwanted changes and make adjustments for new normal. For the entire world, the Corona Virus is a challenge and different societies have responded to it in different ways. But there is a consensus on education where almost every country has closed education institutions physically and switched over to online mode of education.

Education institutions across the globe have done a wonderful job to keep teaching-learning going distantly amid pandemic. The attention has been fixed primarily on ensuring that all students at different levels persist to receive quality education from home. Though offline teaching-learning has its own merits but online education has also changed the perspective of learning. On the one hand, it has facilitated teachers in reaching out to their students at home in an efficient & effective way but on the other hand, students also found it easier to converse with their tutors by using various online platforms.

The modern education system is student-centric. The student is accountable for the knowledge he retrieves from his teachers but in contemporary times a good number of teachers are more interested to finish the assigned syllabus and it is the student who has to be smart and energetic on varied fronts. The accountability of the student arises when he is proactive in learning by realizing that he is answerable for his academic pursuit. His accountability is always exhibited by the approach adopted towards his educational aims. During the pandemic, a student is expected to display academic resilience. He should concentrate and attend classes in whatsoever mode and take part in other scholastic and co-scholastic activities without making an excuse.

Student in any condition is always expected to finish the academic work on time and remain very conscious to produce the quality outcome. He must contemplate properly and take appropriate decisions to utilize the time and available educational resources. For this, he must not depend on the concessions to be given in the form of less or no accountability in assigned work, internal assessments, relaxed examinations, mass promotions, academic subsidy etc. He must not make it as an excuse for his cerebral weakness because at the end of the day he has to compete for his spot at the toughest levels where these compromises may prove fatal.

Before this Wuhan Virus, teachers were holding students answerable for attendance, assignments, class tests, and project work. Now the approach of teachers has changed because the transition has forced the system into an unexplored field of virtual teaching-learning, and now it is also reckless to hold students responsible for such components. Instead, students by default must be more inquisitive because in tough times the more they exert the more they excel.

Amid pandemic, students besides taking an active part in online education have a good number of opportunities to avail for academic excellence and holistic development.

Students can enhance their academic learning through online in different ways. When students are maintaining social distance and remain inside their homes, they should focus on self-study. Most of the teachers have distributed study material which is easy to understand. Teachers are also available on phone or social media and doubts,  if any, could be cleared any time. Various online platforms are also available and their services can also be availed for comprehensive learning.

The stay home period can best be utilized by students to plan for the future. Preparations for entrance tests,  screening tests, or competitive examinations can be taken up. Students can also take any interesting online course. Nowadays a good number of webinars, online workshops, and e-conferences are being organized which remain open for all. Students can actively participate in such online programmes to augment their knowledge and develop a thorough understanding of the discipline. Some training workshops are also being organized by different institutions for the benefit of students; that opportunity can also be availed. It is the best time to develop a friendship with library and it is high time to expand and strengthen the habit of reading books as these are the principal suppliers of subject knowledge, comprehension, satisfaction and wisdom. Student's weak areas in academics can also be identified and conquered during this period.

Students in present times seem to be spending more time on their theory than the practical aspect of education which results in more theoretical knowledge and less practical learning. Life skill development is also missing among students at a higher level. Mastery can be attained in this area by taking some online projects, skill development courses and offline vocational courses at the micro & macro-levels till the new normal returns back to the actual normal.

We are aware of the fact that unintended, forced, and quick shift to online teaching-learning with the least training, insufficient connectivity, and little groundwork is not fully helpful for educational excellence. But integration of ICT in education must be promoted because at the end of the day online education will become a vital component of education. For this purpose, we have to prepare ourselves in advance to adopt a blended model of education so that we become its natives rather than aliens. All stakeholders must also change their attitude and explore new possibilities through which traditional offline and online teaching-learning go hand in hand because now students show interest in virtual education. To be successful on this front certain challenges need to be responded to effectively & suitably in the form of initiatives like digital kits be provided to needy students with fast  and uninterrupted internet access to all.

This pandemic has taught us to respect and utilize the time and in light of the virtual transaction, students across the boarders who preferred face-to-face instructions have also become attractive, attentive, and curious for online classes as it is the only mode available in present times.

Dr. Mohammad Sayid Bhat is Sr. Assistant Professor at Central University of Kashmir.

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