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Citizen Voices

My Struggle With Online Classes

It was the 14th of May, our vice-chancellor released a video message with the announcement of online classes by the 1st of June. This video was not just an announcement, but an assurance, a hope that students would be cooperated with at best.

He guaranteed that if we miss any live lecture amid any challenge, we’ll able to access recorded lectures and claim belated attendance after watching that recorded lecture within 2 days of the delivery.

It was also promised that the chairman, dean and other concerned administration would visit the respective online lectures to ensure the quality of the learning process. On the whole, it was a balanced and much-needed announcement for students.

So after a long break of 3 months, learning starts. Things started as per schedule, first two weeks were just amazing, teachers were very energetic and optimistic and even content – that is usually outdated – was much updated with respect to that regular classes. For us, it as a welcoming and smooth transition.

But in the third, they soon realized that as no one from the administration had paid any visit in the first 2 weeks so things started stumbling. The average timing of class reduced from 50 to 30 minutes, teachers started getting multiple calls within one lecture.

The lecture would go on with interruptions and breaks for calls. Sometimes, after a 30-minute long wait, we were told that the teacher was not available owing to personal reasons or internet problems.

But then came assessment to exacerbate the situation. A lecture was delivered on the 13th of July, and as per university regulations, we might attend it anytime till the 15th. A test on the 14th of July was set from that particular lecture whose content was yet to be provided.

We were given a time frame of about 40 minutes to solve two problems, whose solutions were available on the WhatsApp group after some 15 minutes. Now our actual test started since we were instructed to submit handwritten solutions: a simple procedure to write down a solution from WhatsApp pictures, make a photo on mobile, and then submit it to the teacher.

Over the course of this exercise, multiple students complained of the connectivity issue or the software not working, but the teacher was not helpful. However, finally, he told the students to submit their tests on email if they were having trouble with the submission link.

Submission time over. Finally, after a struggle to get 5 marks, we relaxed. This test was for sure an assessment but of what? For sure, not of our technical approach towards subject, problem-solving skills, or cognitive skills but a pure and net assessment of facilities we have.

If someone receives 90% marks in any technical subjects in the way our test was conducted, what would those numbers be representing then? Is this the aim to take exams? Shouldn’t we rethink the purpose of assessment in academia?

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