Transition From Offline To Online, Educators Share Stories

On the eve of this Teacher's Day, BW Education reaches out to a number of teachers to understand what kind of challenges they faced during the transition from physical classroom to virtual classes and how they tackled them

After the Covid-19 outbreak, every single sector suffered a lot of challenges and it pushed everyone to adopt the new technology and ways of working regardless of your familiarity with it. The education sector was top in the run of adapting the new technologies and we have witnessed a large-scale emergence of edtechs, suddenly after the epidemic. Today, almost every teacher and student is familiar with the digital ways of teaching and learning. However, that transition was not easy due to a lack of digital literacy and experience. While it facilitates the learning process, it also generates numerous challenges on the flip side.

On the eve of this Teacher's Day, BW Education reaches out to a number of teachers to understand what kind of challenges they faced during this transition and how they tackled them. We explored their experiences in online and offline classrooms while teaching and in which medium they feel more comfortable and why. Additionally, how students behave differently in online and offline classrooms. 

“The best quality of a teacher is her adaptability. It is essential not just for tackling challenges like Covid, but also to successfully navigate through all the new advancements in technology and pedagogy. During Covid-19, the transition was a voluntary one as teachers willingly shifted to the online mode to keep the education delivery going smoothly. As a part of this transition, they also upskilled themselves digitally,” says Shikha Banerjee, Principal, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Kanpur.

“Being proficient at traditional methods of teaching, in the beginning, teachers were not that camera-friendly, they lacked the right skill and awareness to use the smart boards and Zoom board to conduct the online classes. However, considering that teachers are constantly in the process of learning to provide quality education to students, they were agile enough to learn the intricacies of new technologies for enhancing the learning process for students,” states Nitin Viijay, Founder and CEO, Motion Education. 

Along the same lines, Radhika Shrivastava, Executive Director, Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB), said that the primary challenge of digital literacy continues to be a barrier to unlocking the true potential of technology adoption in education.

“Another bottleneck is a need for more infrastructure, including seamless internet connectivity across the country, especially in semi-urban and rural regions,” she adds. 

While sharing his personal experience, Lalit Fulara, Faculty - Finance, Hero Vired said, “Transitioning from offline to online teaching was a significant shift for me. In a traditional classroom, I could use my personal teaching style to keep students engaged. Online education demands a different approach. To maintain engagement and curiosity, I had to rethink every aspect of my teaching method and create interactive lessons. Success is attainable online, but it requires adapting to the unique pedagogies and engagement mechanisms for students.” 

Teachers experience in online and offline classrooms

According to the educators both online and offline classrooms have their advantages and disadvantages. Silpi Sahoo, Chairperson, SAI International Education Group, explained, In the offline classroom, teachers can appreciate the immediate physical presence of students, the ability to gauge non-verbal cues and the dynamic interactions that occur naturally. It allows for hands-on activities, group discussions and personalised attention. However, offline teaching may have limitations in terms of resources and accessibility.

But in online classes, educators have the opportunity to explore innovative digital tools and reach students from diverse geographical locations. However, they often miss the direct connection and spontaneity of face-to-face interactions.

To Banerjee, one of the major disadvantages of online classes is that students and teachers miss out on the humane touch. She believes, “It is so crucial for social-emotional development and creating a personal connection. Offline classrooms have been the norm for most of their profession and they are definitely more attuned to it.” 

While highlighting the benefits of offline classes, Viijay Said, “Offline mode provides a more practical and on-ground experience that promotes physical presence along with a disciplined way of studying. Getting the advantage of interacting directly with the students, teachers are able to identify whether the students are facing any difficulty in understanding the topic or not.”

“Online classrooms come with the advantage of flexible learning schedules but lack personal interaction. In addition, they also demand self-discipline, seamless internet connectivity and devices,” adds Shrivastava. 

According to educators, the comfort level with offline and online classroom environments varies from student to student. It is influenced by various factors, including socioeconomic background, technological access, disparities between urban and rural regions, learning styles and much more.

George Thomas, Head - Education, Adani Foundation, shares, “Traditional classrooms provide greater comfort due to the emotional connection established with the students. Human beings are social beings and it is extremely important to have meaningful conversations, be involved in innovative learning and brainstorm in group activities, which can happen only in offline classrooms.”  

Banerjee advises, “The best approach is to create a balance between the digital and physical. Physical classrooms should remain the mainstay of education and online education should support and complement it. Today’s students and teachers are also well exposed to the digital world. So, a mix of the physical and digital is ideal.”

Students’ behaviour in online and offline classrooms

According to Fulara, “Student behaviour varies between online and offline classrooms, primarily in engagement levels. Offline classes benefit from physical presence, enabling immediate interaction. In contrast, online classes face the challenge of uncertain student engagement due to the remote nature of learning.” 

Shrivastava believes that the offline classes offer instant feedback to make necessary course corrections. On the other hand, the online learning mode offers students the benefit of learning at their own pace. “Still, it can lead to several distractions, including low session participation. Moreover, several students may witness punctuality-related challenges that can hamper learning outcomes,” she goes on to say.

While highlighting the challenges of online classes, Sahoo said, “Online classrooms can pose challenges related to distractions, technical issues and maintaining focus. We often need to employ different strategies to keep students engaged and motivated in the digital realm such as explaining a topic through interesting videos or making the child have a group discussion so that they learn the matter well.”

Thomas explains that in the online environment, students rely on written communication, such as chat messages or discussion forum posts. This can lead to differences in communication styles and the need for strong written literacy skills.

In offline settings, attendance and participation are often enforced through in-person requirements, which can help students establish a routine. In contrast, in online settings, students need strong self-discipline and time management skills to stay on track with their coursework.

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