Wake up Sid : 85% Attendance calling
‘Learning should never stop.’ Indian colleges and institutes have stood the ground on this very statement continuing classes in the online mode amidst the global pandemic where everyone is locked down at home. Not quite sure about the learning part, but Online classes continue paradoxically with the same rules as offline or even stringent methods with a ton load of assignments and class tests. Every class is an online class if your professor reads from the slides! Therefore, for some of the students, the online class is not their first experience of their professors just reading out from their slides.
Leaving the insight into the online classes covered in the previous article, we dive into the discussion of the hour- The strict attendance policy has done more damage than help in the online mode of ‘learning’. Debates regarding compulsory attendance can go on forever but let’s focus on a more specific topic: the strict and mandatory attendance policy in the online mode of education amidst a global pandemic where every student is on a solo learning queue.
The most important thing about education and learning is your Environment. Attendance might be necessary for the college campus to instil a routine and give a better academic edge to students but in online classes in a home environment where there can't be a fixed routine, having classes with continuous and compulsory attendance can be dwindling. At home, we never get fixed to a routine as easily as in college, where all your peers are focused on learning and growth. And without a routine, there’s no motivation to learn, and continuous online classes start feeling more like a burden than a way to gain knowledge. In contrast, the college’s environment is entirely different, where you can straight up run to your colleague to teach you a topic that can’t get through your head.
A FEW QUESTIONS TO PONDER
NIT Rourkela is infamous for its 85% attendance policy. And now, during online classes, maintaining an 85% attendance policy, submitting assignments every day, giving weekly tests to each professor, and coping with family’s needs and the environment is proof that students of NIT Rourkela are ‘demigods’ (to be taken with a pinch of salt)
Studying for up to 7 hours of continuous focus in a day and on somedays appearing for continuous tests can be cumbersome. Staring at the screen continuously for hours harms eyesight and also give back and neck pains. In this regard, as attending classes have become strenuous, but we do see instances of progressive steps being taken in a tough fabric of education- IIT Madras has decided to take a full academic break for five consecutive days(from October 1 to October 5) to relax the burden of continuous online classes.
Should there be no breaks while studying and appearing for continuous tests?
Not all students are blessed to be in a big city with a proper internet connection, while even if some of them do, they struggle to get constant connectivity. The rest of them tussle to get the straight bars on their cellular networks, regularly joining in and leaving the meeting or not joining at all, missing out the attendance. To summarize, most students cannot confirm the continuous internet facility and luxury of separate distraction free-workspace.
Should all students not be provided equal opportunity for attending classes?
Living in the same house with family means there will be distractions and interruptions, and this issue is unavoidable. Studying in a joint family which is a basic structure of Indian culture, the effort put by students to focus continuously for long hours is worthy of praise. Every home is not conducive to learning. Therefore, students stay on campus to avoid distractions.
Should the students not be allowed to study at their comfort?
Mental Health is the most affected thing in this whole pandemic and online classes affect it more as they continue to be extensive, increasing the screen time and mental stress. This statement will be completely overlooked when you read the word mental health since it has been made a joke in the name of awareness by media, but let’s get into some statistics.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI) report, in this lockdown period, it was reported that learners were mostly suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety (42.0%). The disappointment and disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic have been incredibly hard for students. Many students have experienced complicated emotions during this period. They have had to adjust to online mode learning, isolate themselves from their friends, and erase meaningfully and anticipated events from their calendars. And this is meant not only for the students but also for the good professors who teach a bunch of black and blank screens struggling to get the class’s interaction and response to be maximum for the best learning, which can’t be even good anymore.
Should there be a strict attendance policy considering the mental stress that the students undergo as of now?
MS Teams has a feature of viewing recorded lectures. It will be available for download via the meeting chat for 21 days. To share or archive, download recordings and upload them to a team, channel, Microsoft Stream, SharePoint, or OneDrive for Business.
Should technology be not used for the good and the attendance policy relaxed?
The students can view those lectures when they have stable internet connectivity. If the students attend the lectures with poor connectivity for the sake of 85% attendance and again view the recorded lectures for better understanding, the daily data pack doesn’t suffice it.
In this pandemic, where we are expected to help each other mentally, the strict attendance policy is just another burden that the students carry amidst assignments, tests, and other issues. Considering a comparison, the government of Tamil Nadu has made attendance not mandatory for online classes. The administration should come forward to help the students, and attendance should be made not compulsory for this semester. The students should view the lectures at their own pace and availability of free time and a stable internet connection.