Online VS Offline: What works best for students preparing for competitive exams? 

Can online classes entirely replace offline classes? What students have to say?

Technology will soon be sitting on the driver’s seat of the world as we move ahead and depend more on it. The unexpected pandemic and the global lockdown have brought this goal closer. The education sector is most affected because of the lockdown. It is almost more than six months now, and the educational institutions are still far from resuming. 

This is where online education was forced upon in India, some of the institutes are working smoothly through online medium for education but the remote areas are really suffering a lot. But technology has some loopholes too, for example, the attention span of students is less in physical class which will be lesser on a screen.

According to the study by Microsoft, the average human being in 2020 has an attention span of just eight seconds. This is a sharp decrease from the average attention span of 12 seconds in 2000. Coming back to students, who are struggling to complete their education or learn through online portals are finding it very difficult to cope up with the speed of the competition which is rising every day.

Students preparing for competitive exams need to study more as compared to the other regular exams. Continuous studying and not being able to out for a small break, affects the mental health, says a report.

Read more: Online education a boon or a bane

We live in the digital age. Digital technology is a powerful tool and, if used wisely by educators, parents and students, it can have a positive impact on the user. Sadly, online classes at the primary level do not have the desired positive impact on all students.

We may say it is a digital age, but the disturbing fact is that most students, especially in rural areas, do not have access to the Internet and digital devices. Though we call the present generation ‘digital natives’, most of our students do not know what the term really means because they do not have the experience of being familiar with digital systems.

To understand the current scenario better, we spoke to some of the UPSC aspirants who have been preparing for the exam for a very long time.

Kiran George (26), Kerala, is an UPSC aspirant who has already given a few attempts. According to his experience, he says, “some of his friends who studied in a hostel and were completely dependent on physical libraries are impacted the most by this pandemic. They were forced to leave the hostel and go back to their hometown, without any alternative to libraries. As for me, I am used to being at home and studying for long hours. Only, thing that changed for me is that I could not take a break and go out to get some fresh air.”

The world post pandemic is going to be very different from what it was before it. Things will never be the same and the new methods have already taken over a lot of sectors in our country, education is also among them.

Vaishnavi Gaur (23), New Delhi, says, “I believe online lectures are more comfortable as I can finish my work at my own space without any barrier of time. I understand it is not that interactive as compared to physical classes but I was more comfortable with online education”.

Vaishnavi is preparing for UPSC from the two years now and finds online mode of education more comfortable as it leaves more time with her in hand to complete other work.

On other hand, Bhavana Gollapalle (23), Bangalore, said that the lockdown was like a nightmare for her. “My reading schedule was gone for a toss and there was a lot of uncertainty initially. I am a person with anxiety issues, so it was very difficult for me to cope up with the world,” added Bhavana. She is also going to give the exam this year, despite there being a pandemic out there.

The lockdown did have some major impact on mental health for a lot of students. The postponement of exams was helping increase the burden on kids.

Nitin Ingle (22) from Aurangabad, Maharashtra is also one of the UPSC aspirants, who was forced to cancel the plan of giving the exam this year as the lockdown had affected the preparation majorly.

“The study material available online comes with a lot of underlying issues like I cannot read through the screen after a certain point of time, it is difficult to concentrate. The mock tests online cannot do justice with the actual exam as the real exam takes place in pen and paper format,” explained Nitin.

Traditionally, Indian education system is used to a blackboard and a teacher in front of them to explain things. It will take a lot of time to adapt to this new culture of online learning in our country. The pandemic forced the educational institutions to find an alternative to offline classes so that the academic year of a student is not wasted.

There are pros and cons of online education, pros mainly include saving the travel time and giving you more time to finish other work; cons are that we are not used to studying like this in front of a screen without any physical presence of a tutor.

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