The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a black swan in the lives of South Asians as it has in other parts of the world. Along with other sectors, education has been the sector most affected by the pandemic. For health security reasons, every government in South Asian countries has had to shut down all educational institutions in their respective countries for a year to a year and a half.

Time was running out. Schools, colleges and universities needed to find an online education system to keep educational activities vibrant. From the experience of an absolute cessation of educational activities to the hybrid learning model, people have faced the new normal.

The task of adjusting to this transformation was not easy for them. However, each of the educational institutions, including teachers and students, faced different challenges including accessing network speed, diverse backgrounds and geographic locations in online education.

Participant in an online education dialogue titled “Restart Education: Experiencing the Education Transformation”, jointly organized by the Friederich Neumann Freedom Foundation (FNF), South Asia and the Center for Civil Society (CCS) , November 18, Zubayer Hossain, a school A student from Bangladesh, Krishank Malik from Arya Global Group of Institutes, Tashi Chophel, a student from Bhutan and a Pakistani teacher Raheela Mahjabeen Kausar shared the challenges faced and the initiatives taken by their respective governments to keep the studies dynamic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost all agreed that online classes cannot replace physical classes. The dialogue was moderated by Roshan Gandhi, City Montessori School, India.

At the start, Raheela Mahjabeen Kausar highlighted her experiences in transformation, the methodology used by teachers in online teaching, and the problems teachers face when teaching online.

She said online education was a bit different because students weren’t very used to it. They have been a face to face learning experience. They’re just trying to join online classes. Teachers were also upset because they had no previous experience of teaching online. They weren’t so used to it at first.

Mentioning different methodologies used in online learning, she added that teachers do not have internet connections and suitable devices for online instruction. Later everyone tried to cope with the situation because they wanted to learn.

The methodology was totally different in online education. While teachers physically taught in class, they were more attentive than online lessons. In online courses, teachers have to give more effort. Face-to-face, teachers only teach lessons, but in the case of online lessons, they have to prepare PDFs and send material to students and keep all devices well connected as well.

Responding to a question about the preference of online learning from a student perspective, Zubayer Hossain, a student from Bangladesh, understood that he preferred a face-to-face education system because he and some of his classmates were having many problems dating online. Classes. He prefers to attend school because of the attention teachers receive physically from the students.

Although Zubayer is not averse to virtual classes, as he has also attended many virtual classes in this pandemic situation. But he prefers more physical lessons because students can interact physically with teachers as well as other teachers in the class and the elderly. Thus, interaction is easier and more fruitful than virtual interaction.

He added that there were problems in the virtual classrooms. Internet connection problems are too big a problem. Again, some students just assist, not learn. They turned off their mic and video camera … having fun, eating and blah blah … which is not possible in physical school attendance.

However, Zubayer also mentioned that some of his friends prefer virtual lessons because virtual lessons save time. But most of his friends don’t have good smartphones, and they don’t have a good learning environment. But in physical classes, these are not problems.

In agreement with Zubayer, Tashi Chophel, another student from Bhutan, said that he and his peers face many difficulties in online courses and studies. Thus, they much prefer a face-to-face education system. And their teachers prefer it too. As Zubayer said before, there are internet connection issues prevalent and this is a big hurdle to join online courses.

Shedding light on the complexities of an online course, Tashi shared his online course experience that online courses are much more complex than face-to-face teaching processes. And in the face-to-face education system, it is easier to connect with friends and express more emotion than in online classes. Many of her friends are frustrated with online courses in this pandemic situation in so many ways. Many of them have a lack of knowledge in terms of using ICT tools. Also, not everyone shares their opinions, which they usually do in physical classes.

As an education analyst, Krishank Malik said that previously teachers only focused on teaching. But now they are focusing on self-learning, self-learning of the learner. As they are connected to technology, they must know how to use the tools, how to operate these technologies to join the classroom. So today it is a teaching and learning process quite different from the previous one.

Suggesting teachers, he said teachers need to change the teaching style, content and curriculum. He also spoke about the online assessment. He thinks there are a lot of trust issues when it comes to assessing and testing online. Students can copy. Thus, the teacher can test them with an open book assessment. For example, they look at textbooks and find the answer. So at least they can learn. Malik also spoke from the child’s perspective. Children benefit from technical training. They can learn to type, create pdf, etc.