Home Education Should students remain tied down to computers – Times of India

Should students remain tied down to computers – Times of India

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The paradigm of education has changed. The glorious experience of visiting the campus has vanished as students are confined in front of one tiny laptop. There is very little real education possible when a student is isolated and is in confinement. No one is considering the medical ramifications of young eyes spending hours staring at a screen; it is dangerously fatiguing, and the blue light of computer screens plays havoc with the circadian rhythm of the body, sabotaging sleep patterns. Younger bodies simply cannot take this kind of onslaught of tech-poisoning and we cannot condemn them to growing up sick.

The difference in in-person and online learning is fragile and no one has really begun to take on the task of solving the emotional, mental, and psychological burdens that take place. Students tied down to their laptops for hours, days, weeks and month are soon going to terminally switch off their brains.

At home, there is no social and physical setting to inculcate and reinforce academic progress. Classrooms and lecture halls by their sheer structure declare their purpose, plus the sheer physical movement from one room to another creates and rehearses the connections between body and mind.

Students now are imprisoned in a single chair and devote themselves to focusing on a flickering screen while the hustle and bustle of a household is disturbing their concentration. Moving from classroom to classroom, floor to floor, building to building, outside to in, open space to the cafeteria, is an important part of the experience. Learning becomes physically enabled and mentally cued.

Ask any student: just changing positions and locations helps them remember lessons. Memory tags are just that: faces, facts, information, and conclusions can be easier to remember when prompted by the memory of a certain space.

Just changing physical locations during studying increases subsequent recall of the material in question.

Animal research suggests that non spatial information — a category that for humans includes faces, events, and facts — can be easier to remember when tied to a specific place.

Videoconferencing is a poor and threadbare mimic of it all. Cameras causes pressure, you feel monitored. Teaching to blank screens is difficult. In a real classroom, all are visible. When you are on screen all monitoring has an element of an invasion of privacy.

Taxing for teachers

Faculty finds this all very punishing. Teachers draw strength from the physical presence of a classroom. That river of interaction is now hard to come by. In fact, the disembodied online environment hinders progress. To teach or learn under these circumstances requires extreme mental exertion. Talking into an unblinking camera not only deprives a teacher of all the emotional encouragement it makes their minds contact in bewilderment. The entire experience is draining.

(The author is director, Dr GRD College of Science and a Fulbright scholar)





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