College reopening: Online class option leads to confusion
College principals, teachers and students are waiting for more clarity from the government after it announced on Friday that classes will resume on November 17. What has got everyone puzzled is the decision to not make physical attendance mandatory. Barring practicals where attendance is compulsory, students will have the option of continuing with online classes. “Does this mean that we have to conduct online classes as well,” asked a teacher.
Teachers are worried that it will increase their workload. A professor from a government college in Bengaluru said there would be confusion and lack of uniformity. “Should we record the class for online students and upload it separately or will the recording be done as and when the offline classes are going on?” the professor said.
K.R. Venugopal, vice-chancellor, Bangalore University, said they were waiting for the detailed guidelines from the government. “Based on that, we will issue guidelines to colleges affiliated to our university and make arrangements for reopening colleges,” he said.
Students, too, are worried about missing out on some key part of the portion if the online and offline classes are not the same. “I do not know how colleges will ensure that one set of students won’t have an advantage over another. This system will not create a level playing field and lead to inequality in terms access,” said a law student from private college.
However, the government’s decision to resume practicals has come as a relief to students,who have suggested that this rule should be expanded to chapters dealing with difficult concepts. “There are some subjects that have concepts which cannot be taught and learnt online. Such topics can be completed with students in class, and the rest can be online,” said another student.
Welcoming the move, T.M. Manjunatha, president, Karnataka Government College Teachers’ Association, said colleges should take all the necessary precautions to make campuses safe. “The government should ensure that SOPs are strictly adhered to by colleges keeping in mind the health and safety of students and teachers,” he said.
Some student organisations have opposed the decision of the Government to reopen colleges after Deepavali. H.M. Sithara, Bengaluru district president, All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), said that the government was in a hurry to re-open education institutions just to normalise the situation.
“It is the duty and responsibility of the Government to first issue astute guidelines on reopening colleges and then announce the decision. Here, they have announced the decision but there are no guidelines or SOPs. This has created confusion and panic among students and teachers,” she said. She also urged the government to resume offline classes only after the pandemic had subsided.
Autonomous institutions like Christ (Deemed to be University), St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, will hold their semester exams in November-December where students will be given the choice to either write the exam online or offline.
Abraham V.M., V-C of Christ (Deemed to be University), said, “We have resumed offline classes partially, but only for practicals sessions for PG and PhD students.”