My Experience with Online Education
The technological world has always fascinated me. I used to envy people working on their laptops from the comfort of their homes, thinking what a comfortable life they had. Well, Covid 2020 made me experience the world of technology in a different way than what I was aware of. I knew the importance of using technology in the classroom to enhance the learning experience for my
students. Integration of videos, Tata Class Edge, smart board games, and quizzes to enhance their learning experience. The integration of technology into my teaching made it more interesting and engaging for students. Graphics and GIFs attract their attention and since I was teaching younger kids, it was challenging to keep them attentive throughout. Blending multimedia devices in my classroom made it convenient for me to use different tools. Apart from using technology, my main focus was to give hands-on experience to my students that would improve their learning experience by keeping it more lively and keeping them engaged.
Due to the pandemic, however, teaching greatly changed as it switched from an in-person to an online format. It was new to everyone, especially in the field of education, as there was no prior training or adequate knowledge of how things should be carried out. Talking about my personal experience, it was overwhelming during the initial months. Managing a class of forty-plus students, providing e-mail addresses to parents, and teaching not just the students, but the parents how to use different Google functions and then tons of technical issues. It was a mess, to be honest. Unlike other developing countries, India is a developing country and many students constantly struggle with the unavailability of devices and network issues. For almost 2 years, the classes were not blended, but online. The school I was working at first tried different things to get students to attend classes. Starting with asynchronous teaching, it evolved to synchronous sessions once a week and then asynchronous assignments the rest of the week. Finally, it settled on synchronous sessions four times a week. So, it was a trial and error method. It took a couple of months for students to get on board.
Assessments were the next challenge. Conducting daily quizzes in the form of Google forms worked well, however, the authenticity of the answers could not be determined. Managing such a large group of students online and answering their questions in a timely manner was my biggest challenge. Another one was untimely messages, calls, and emails. I found that the most frustrating thing about the online model was the constant meetings and conversations. Since my students were young, parents used to take charge and ask questions instead, and that too at their convenience. I used to get messages and calls late at night severely disturbing my personal life. I had to be active all the time on my laptop or phone and there was no work-life balance. Although, I think there is a difference between planned online learning and what was done during the pandemic, which was more like emergency learning.
I also cannot deny the fact that it provided me with many opportunities as well. For example, I am much more comfortable using online learning environments than before. Web-based material can be managed more conveniently, and the most appealing part is that once I have created something, let’s say a video lesson, I can use it multiple times. In my opinion, if you are a newcomer to online education, it does take time to become proficient. However, it is the need of the hour, and the changing world requires teachers to be more aware of modern technology and integrate it into their daily classroom teaching.
Tansi Sushmeet, thank you for sharing your experience with Online/Blended Learning. I’d agree that planned online/blended learning is much different than what educators had to do when the pandemic hit us, it was emergency learning. My daughter is now in her second year of university studies, but she was finishing up grade eleven when the pandemic hit, and she did not enjoy online learning at all, but I think it was more missing the socialization of her friends than the classroom setting. As a parent who was also an educator, I knew not to contact her teachers after hours; however, many of them sent emails to parents stating that they only worked between certain hours and responded to emails/calls between certain hours-setting those boundaries is always important for teachers.
I’d consider myself a newcomer to online/blended education too. I’m reading the names of platforms mentioned by our colleagues and I must admit that my head is spinning! I’m leaning toward Google classroom though, it seems to be the friendliest, And as mentioned in one of our readings, I’m not one for the jargon of theory and terminology, so I like to keep my writing as simple as possible. Good luck on your first assignment! Ekosi.
Thank you Donna for taking the time to read and respond to my post. Although I have taught online for 2 years, there are still many new names I see while reading and talking to people during this course. However, I agree that Google classroom feels the most comfortable to me as it is easily accessible and handy.