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Is Virtual Learning Immediately Possible in Nepal?

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Kusum Raj Subedi, PhD

ShaheedSmriti Multiple Campus

Ratnanagar, Chitwan

 

      COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis in the world including our country. It has created a very bad effect on social, economic, educational, health etc.. It has left a very bad effect in the economic condition of the people. People are staying indoors, either by choice or by government order. Across the world, shops, airlines companies, travel agencies theatres, restaurants and bars are closing. Every day, people are losing jobs and income, and are expecting when normal life will return. This is the very sad experience we are getting today. All the media print, electronics have been limited to online media. All private, community and government’s offices are closed. The internet, we use, is also slower due to more users. Surprisingly, this is the same problem all over the world.

Maintaining the social distance among the people has become the most effective and preventive safety measures against this disease. Therefore, face to face social interaction is an exceptional one in today’s society and the same has been converted into the digital medium that people are taking part in the conversation with the help of internet with computers.Government has implemented the strict policy of lockdown so that the infection of corona virus will not spread from one person to another person. But no one knows when the lockdown will end and normal life will begin as usual. The rampant situation is exposing its ugly face as the number of infections in Nepal is increasing day by day. Information technology has presented us with new possibilities for proximity.Experts in the field of education have started consulting with various experts and stakeholders on how to conduct classes regularly even in times of crisis.We have also identified that everything has its own opportunities and challenges. At the same time Covid-19 hastaughtus many things in every field.

Although the need for online learning mode has been discussed in educational curricula for more than 2-4 years, however, they have not been able to reach a conclusion of finding out the effective solution.Thus, Covid 19 has forced educational institutions to think, manage and regulate the virtual learning.While online education has been adopted in some temporary ways during the crisis, the majority of the studentsarestill reluctant to think and adopt and assimilate in it. There might be several reasons for it but the pandemic situation it has made compelled us to think about it in rational way.

In this context, the issue of virtual learning has also been raised and has become a matter of hot debate among the educationists and educational institutions in Nepal. Now the question comes here; what is virtual learning? Virtual learning is a teaching-learning experience that is enhanced during teaching by using both computer and internet inside or outside the school.This teaching is conducted and performed in an online environment. Virtual teaching uses computer software, the Internet, or both, especially while teaching the students. Virtual learning tends to reduce classroom sharing or eliminate the needs for classrooms used by teachers and students during teaching. The teacher teaches through online and the teacher is not physically present with the students.

The education sector has been hit sharply by the epidemic. All government and private educational institutions are closed for more than 3 months and nobody can predict when the educational institutions will return back to normal pedagogical practice. Therefore, some schools and colleges that can manage the internet access have started online classes, but not all. The classes of the educational institutions were running behind the educational schedule before this pandemic situation. After the class opened, the teachers would run at the speed of the metro train to complete the course within the educational schedule. Moreover, the teachers of the campus used to get the title of helmet teacher.

School and campus teaching would have been closed for 1-2 weeks, but this time, it has been decided to go for 4-6 months.In the face of this epidemic, some schools and colleges have resorted to online education, but there are many challenges in providing opportunities for learning and teaching through distance learning. At present, not all students across the country have access a high speed and uninterrupted internet facilities.

People are getting services from internet service providers or buying internet packages but these are short term and expensive compared to regular internet services.Even if a student spends Rs200 per day for a data package, it may not be enough. In a country like ours, it is very expensive. It is problematic for the guardians of our country to bear it. There are actually thousands of students who do not have laptops. The fact that computers are still dependent on a friend’s computer or cybercafé for report or thesis writingactivities may mean that the purpose of taking a class on a mobile phone can be achieved, but not all of them are completely effective.

During regular classroom teaching, most students have the opportunity to interact, discuss, and converse with teachers on a topic. The online class significantly limits the interaction between students. The teacher has a monopoly on teaching without much interaction and at the same time, students do not get enough time to be clear on the courses taught. Similarly, the practical and numerical based subjects are not effectively presented in online medium.

In a regular classroom, the teacher can observe the student’s behaviour closely and change the curriculum instantly based on what the student does not understand. In the case of most technical courses, it requires a lot of practice and exercise. Online classes limit the possibility of doing exercises and group activities. Theoretical courses are easy to teach but not the same for experimental and practical courses. It is not easy for all students to communicate in the classroom. There are very few students interacting and the participation of some other students is very low.

Finally, virtual learning is the latest concept in the field of teaching and learning. However, lack of community participation, limited experience of modern technology with teachers and students, laziness seen in online learning, inadequacy of online learning materials, and lack of motivation in learning, lack of past teaching experience make virtual learning challenging at present.

However, virtual learning opportunities cannot be ignored. This requires greater coordination, expertise, initial investment and the commitment of educational institutions, as well as regulatory bodies. Nowadays students look for a wide range of options to pursue higher education. Because they want to makes money and learn new things.Students seek access to education at no cost or low cost, teaching outside classroom halls, flexible daily or weekly class schedules on university campuses, access to classrooms in an automated way of study, and access to professional development courses. So while immediate virtual learning may seem challenging, it is relevant to see it as the future of teaching. Therefore, it would be more pertinent to suggest that the state should make virtual learning compulsory and use it by providing facilities.

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