‘Online Studies Took Away The Zing Of My B Tech Final Year’

Shivangi Mishra, 22, completed her B Tech final year during consecutive lockdowns online. Mishra narrates what all she missed out

I was in my B Tech final year from KIIT University, Bhubaneshwar, when we heard the news about the outbreak of Covid pandemic. I was in the hostel, studying labouriously for the final exams and at the same time enjoying the hostel life with my friends.

As the pandemic and the panic spread, we were asked by our college administration to vacate hostel premises. Strict lockdowns were to follow. So, we bundled up our stuff and headed home thinking that the situation will be brought under control in a month or two and we will be back to our normal hostel life soon. However, in good time we realised the intensity of the outbreak the world over.

With no signs of returning to hostel to attend classes, we received information from the college administration about online classes. Studying technology online can be an uphill task for students. To make matters worse, many teachers as well students were not aware of the online education procedures; besides, there were intermittent network issues. To clear the concept, many a time several students would start asking questions at the same time. It seemed chaotic and much would get lost in the confusion.

We had always been to the classrooms hitherto where teachers were physically present and answered our queries. The online classes had their limitations. We struggled to complete the course. Many lagged behind. Those who were not good at studies suffered the most. It was very hard to face an examination after online classes for one whole year and that too for final semester exams.

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During first couple of months, we were completely confused on how to continue studies as the atmosphere at home is entirely different from that of a formal classroom. Sometimes I was frustrated with disturbance with family members moving around. But slowly I devised a routine. Also, as I missed my friends, I started catching up with them online. Despite all what I suffered in academic front, I am really grateful to my parents for their support. At times of Covid, we felt safe with family.

The examinations brought in fresh challenges. The weaker students who used to take additional help from the teachers post-classes and those who had joined the university from remote areas struggled the most.

The placements were also hard to come by as the interviews were done through online apps. It wasn’t the way we had prepared ourselves. A group discussion with interviewees and aspirants in a room is entirely different than how it is conducted online. We couldn’t see the expressions or the faces of the interviewees clearly. At times we couldn’t hear the subject or the arguments placed properly. I would consider myself lucky that I was able to find the position of an associated integration engineer with a private group.

Thankfully, things are getting better now, and students and teachers are getting well versed to online classes. However, online education can never replace the physical classrooms, the hostel life and the atmosphere of a college. I hope the pandemic ends soon and everything goes back to normal.

‘Mela, IPL, Rallies Can Be Held… Why Not Exams?’

Bengaluru-based Class 12 student Navya Deepesh Govil feels disappointed at the postponing of Class XII examinations and she lists out hers reasons for it

I am a student of Class 12 currently preparing for Board exams and other competitive exams. The central government has cancelled Class 10 Board exams and postponed Class 12 exams due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases across India. As a student, I am not happy with the decision having prepared so hard for the whole year.

Just look at the prejudiced decision of our government. Bars, restaurants, cinema halls and other public places are all open with 50% capacity. The political leaders are holding multiple rallies in election states. Thousands of people are gathering in the Kumbh Mela, refusing to get tested or wear face-masks or follow social distancing; they are all one over another. The Indian Premier League matches are being held.

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I want to ask my leaders if Mela, public meetings and cricket matches can be held, then why school exams can’t be conducted with due precautionary measures in place! Clearly, election speeches, sport events and mass festivals are more important for this government than education. If it were not so, we would be taking our exams as scheduled, with heavier restrictions on public gatherings, and strict safeguards at examination halls. No?

Considering the severity of the situation, it is fair enough for many students and parents to feel at risk of the coronavirus. However, I feel the Board exams should not have been postponed and if at all the situation worsens, the Central Board should either cancel it for good or hold them online.

I understand that holding the exams online would not be the best option considering the cheating that could take place (which would be unfair to students who have genuinely prepared for these exams) and also due to the level of internet access in our country.

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But the decision to postpone these exams will only leave us hanging and increase anxiety among young students about their future. Postponing Board exams also means putting off other competitive exams that are scheduled to be held in the month of June. And for how long can the whole academic year be pushed down again and again?

We can have each school hold the exams for their students on their campus. That way for one exam there wouldn’t be more than 30-40 students appearing, and can be spread across different classrooms. As a CBSE official recently said that examination centres for board exams 2021 have been increased by 40% to 50%. They might as well hold them in all schools as we did for our board practical exams and viva. With careful planning, we can even start vaccination for students at the earliest. At the examination hall, social distancing, masks and shields can be made be mandatory.

As Told To Mamta Sharma