Online learning: A double-edged sword

With the COVID crisis breathing down our neck since March, life seemed to come to a halt. However, much to students’ dismay and teacher’s joy, education did not stop. Online learning proved to be a revolutionary step towards digitising education. So, does this new page in the history of education come with no problems?

Sadly, it does not.

According to scientists, continuous exposure to digital screens can have intense effects on a person’s mental and physical health. Because of the nature of learning, students find it very difficult to communicate with their classmates and maintain a social life.

Researchers have also stated late deadlines to be extremely harmful for a student’s health. Students develop bad sleep cycles which leads to poor memory retention and affects their productivity. Apart from these, the overuse of technology has affected their physical health.

Related: Online modules- the new replacement to college degrees

Even after class, doing projects and making presentations for students and teachers respectively, has made it impossible for us to escape digital devices. This can lead to muscle and joint injuries, increased mortality rate because of excessive sitting, eye strain, splitting headaches, and disruptive sleep cycles. In fact, parents of primary school students have already reported that their children are falling ill directly after attending four hour-long online classes. Opticians have also reported an increase in consumption of eye glasses and specifically, blue light filter eyeglasses.

The overuse of this medium has led to the misuse of such platforms.

In July 2020, Zoom, one of the most popular online platforms to conduct meetings, witnessed a security breach. This breach allowed hackers to manipulate meeting IDs to pose as one of the employees of the organisation and put sensitive information at risk. Before this, in March 2020, weak meeting IDs led to pranksters joining Zoom calls and harassing the organiser by playing inappropriate or shock videos. Zoom also lied about using end-to-end encryption and put millions of users at risk with loopholes in its security policies.

Related: COVID-19- The Reality Check for World Education System

When the problem of security breaches was resolved, the students brought forth another problem. Some students shared the meeting link with their friends, who have fake IDs, and they abused the faculty in the chat box. Instead of answering the questions in the test, these fake IDs would submit abusive words. This online interface of teaching has made learning completely non-interactive.

While the world is enveloped by a pandemic, it is understandable that these flaws exist. However, these loopholes need to be filled. The American Optometric Association suggests a 20–20–20 rule: after viewing a digital screen for 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet away. Regular stretching between long hours of class will help prevent muscle and joint injuries. Digital devices should be left untouched an hour before bedtime to prevent dysfunctional sleep cycles.

To know more, visit Globalshala.

Shivangi Tripathi

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