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Online teaching amidst coronavirus pandemic

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Iqbal Jamil

Naveed Arshad, Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi and broadcast journalist says that it will be a challenge for educational institutions to have online classes during the pandemic, said. He further said even universities across Pakistan are struggling to have online classes, what to talk about schools.
Naveed Arshad was of the view that university can hold online classes facing problems. But definitely primary level of teaching will be very cumbersome for students, parents and also for the teachers.
Asmat Ullah Niazi, former Controller of PTV, and a visiting faculty at Islamic University and Ripha University Islamabad, is of the view that before going for online classes a rigorous training of faculty and teachers and the IT staff of educational institutions is prerequisite. He added that the feel of the classroom and direct communication between the teacher and student will be one of the drawbacks of online classes.
Some of the private schools have started online classes without proper preparations, resulting into confusion among students, parents and teachers, because all were not trained and mentally they were not prepared. Sharing their experiences with the scribe, the teachers of some of the private schools said that more than 75% of the allotted class time is consumed in taking attendance while the remaining time is spent to maintain discipline in the class, apart from other issues. The parents of primary class sit with their children, as the primary class students are not computer literate, so the student have to follow instructions one from Online teacher and the other from their parents at home.
As far as online education at University level is concerned some of the private Universities have started online classes on emergency basis with commendable performance. Most of the public sector universities still have not been able to start the online classes due to lack of facilities and also due to large number of enrolments of students. Sindh University, Jamshoro has started online classes whereas the Academic Council of the University of Karachi has given the approval to hold online classes, Federal Urdu University has imparted training to the faculty and necessary staff to hold online classes.
A very strong learning management system is necessary to have successful online classes at the university level, as without LMS no online classes can be held successfully. Next comes the faculty, is the faculty ready to take online classes, is the faculty trained. For smooth online classes did the faculty share the course materials according to the course outline with the students, if not then the students will face lot of problems during the classes.
For online classes students should be informed about the reading material available on digital library. Internet connectivity is a big issue experienced during online classes for students of rural areas and FATA and this could be a major challenge for the Universities. The most vital is that, is the students are ready to take the classes Online, the students briefed enough about the modalities of the online classes.
Many students have no high bandwidth and strong internet connectivity due to which there are frequent interruptions for them during the classes. These issues requires attention of the universities having online classes, otherwise the standard of learning will further deteriorate which will be a sorry state of affairs for the students. Holding of online exams will another area were the educational institutions should focus to make it fair and transparent, for this a viable examination should be strategically defined.
Before joining the online class the students should know that they are into, learning a new way of learning, understand your motivation, before starting the course read carefully the syllabus, use a planner, time management, participate in class room and understand that it is not a social media platform.
Faculty should create a WhatsApp group for communication other than the class, engage students, make students feel comfortable, make the class interactive, try to remember the name of every student and give a patient hearing to the students’ complaints and queries. These are some of the basics for smooth holding of online classes if practiced it will at least achieve desired result, otherwise the rest will be the history.