Committee does not favour blanket ban on online classes

The expert committee set up by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education to look into modalities of offering online classes for students is not in favour of a blanket ban on such classes. Committee members, which include department officials and mental health experts, plan to come up with guidelines in a week.

So far, they have held two meetings and members have been asked to submit their opinions and specify the duration of screen time that can be allowed for students across classes. They were also asked to weigh in on the frequency of online classes, the technological platform best suited for everyone’s needs, and whether parental presence is necessary. Members have also been asked to specify if classes should be synchronous or asynchronous.

Although no decision has been taken in this regard, sources in the committee said they were looking at various national and international guidelines before deciding on the duration for these classes. A majority of the members have stated that online learning sessions cannot be a substitute for in-person classes. “We want to make it clear that the school management cannot simply replicate their regular timetable and conduct that many classes for students during this time,” a source in the committee said.

Screen time

According to recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, for children between two and five years, the maximum screen time that should be allowed in a day is one hour. The sessions need to be broken into shorter lengths of a maximum of 30 minutes. For children aged six and above, they have set no specific screen time limit but have said that it should not affect physical activity and face-to-face interaction at home and school.

A set of guidelines based on the Switzerland model that many International Baccalaureate schools are emulating states that for kindergarten students, the maximum duration should be 8 to 12 minutes and they can have two sessions. The number of sessions and time per class differ from one grade to another. For students in class nine, a maximum of 30 minutes per session should be allowed.

The Department of Public Instruction is also studying the extensive guidelines on online education released by the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

According to these guidelines, screen time for pre-primary students should be restricted to 30 minutes on alternative days, two sessions of 20 to 45 minutes per day for elementary classes. For higher secondary and secondary school students, the cap on screen time is between 30 to 45 minutes and four sessions can be allowed in the day.

Committee members have also been asked to submit their ideas on how students can be engaged or involved in learning besides online classes.

Sources in the committee said that for government and aided school students, they are planning to conduct classes through either radio or television as it is the medium that is most accessible to students of these schools.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 4:53:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/committee-does-not-favour-blanket-ban-on-online-classes/article31927917.ece

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