Empty classroom
Q&A by Marianne Johannes , Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

The pandemic that changed everything left its mark on education when that hub of social contact, the classroom, fell prey to social distancing. Now, with the new academic year commencing for most schools and colleges in India, it’s #BackToSchoolOnline. However, going online has not been a cakewalk for parents, teachers and students alike. Questions abound - you told us on Twitter and we asked an expert educator to answer some of them. Hope they help. Feel free to write in with more questions or just tell us more about your education story in the time of the pandemic.


Q.1 Firstly, the school is not having proper technical equipments like a good webcam, a good microphone, etc. The online classes are very less interactive to be honest.

The sudden onset of a viciously contagious disease was not something anyone in the world was prepared for. No one knew (or for that matter still knows) how it would (and will in the future) impact life in general and schools to be specific. So yes, many schools are unable to provide technically advanced and flawlessly interactive classes, due to the suddenness of the pandemic, financial constraints, network constraints, natural calamities like storms, cyclones etc. So most schools are doing the best that they can with whatever resources are available to them. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you look at things; your outlook determines whether your glass is half empty or half full.

Q.2 And the lovely thing about is school is that you can meet your friends and learn together. But online classes makes you feel a bit lonely.

Believe me, the teachers miss you more than you could ever imagine! Think of it this way, you are lonely (it’s sad) but you are choosing to be lonely so that your friends and you are safe. You, by attending online classes and not physically meeting your friends are no less than a superhero! You’re saving lives. And did you read about how the lockdown has been working wonders for the environment and the other creatures? You did it! Be proud. Talk to your friends on the phone, text them, you can even go old school and write to your heart’s content through an email.

Q.3. My online classes are for almost 3.5 hours. Even an average movie would be for 2.5 hours! Are students humans or robots?

That is quite a long duration… why don’t you ask your teacher(s) to give you breaks in between? Maybe even they’d like that suggestion.(considering that in all probability they are also humans…or are they?)

Q.4. Researchers, mostly PhDs or masters students have had it far worse than the undergraduates. You need labs to get on with your work.

Yes that is true, try filling in your time with other courses that may benefit you later or honing up your presentation skills, data collection for your thesis, etc. try developing a hobby, reading books, cooking… any life skill. And if you are feeling stressed and are unable to do anything productive, not doing anything is also ok. If you feel depression setting in, please talk to someone, there are many online helplines available for free. It’s far from ideal but learning to handle tough, unprecedented emergencies is what life is all about. Take care.

Q.5. Long hours infront of laptop screens are strenuous too.

Very true, please see to it that you give your eyes plenty of rest after online classes. Use a screen guard if possible. Try reducing your social media time, go for audio books instead of physical/online readers, listen to podcasts/ radio in lieu of Youtube videos/Netflix etc. Stay safe.


Q.1. My daughter is three years old school is planning virtual classes but I don’t think it is possible to teach children in nursery by virtual means they don’t sit in front of the screen any suggestions how to teach such toddlers.

This is the age of digital literacy and your toddler being a digital native, will be more inclined to accept the virtual world of digital classrooms. Technology can take us very far in educating children, but the human factor cannot be ignored, and this is where you come in. You are the MVP in your child’s online education! Here are some suggestions for you:-

  1. Dress your child appropriately for the class (no PJ’s or night dresses!)
  2. At least one parent or a responsible adult should attend the class with the child.
  3. If for any reason your child does not want to attend, please do not force your child to do so, but the adult should try to keep a track of what is happening in the class.
  4. Ensure a calm and peaceful environment while the session is on.
  5. Keep your microphone on mute unless requested otherwise and your own devices on silent. A child should know that attending class is as important as the adult’s “work from home”
  6. Many nursery schools upload the classes on YouTube, so that the children can watch and re-watch it. Watch that at a particular time and sing along if possible.
  7. You can attend the class and reinforce the lesson in your home setting.
  8. Have fun, read to your child, sing along nursery rhymes, do a fancy dress day, try out marbling, paper mache, vegetable printing (or any other art that the teachers are teaching or you found online)

Q.2. We get the school material through whatsapp videos. The kid does it, but needs to be supported through out or he gets distracted.

Please use this opportunity to bond with your child over projects, art etc. Though independent work is important, what a child can learn through an experience is incomparable. Life is all about the journey, not the destination. Embrace this opportunity; you might not get a chance to do this when your child grows up!

Q.3. Biggest challenge is kids are getting addicted to tab/mobile phones …

I like the fact that you’ve used the word “challenge” and not “problem”. Yes, it is a challenge, but it is one that we can overcome. It is but natural for a child of this digital age to be attracted to such devices, we as parents have to see to it that a balance is maintained. Use this media to develop offline hobbies such as reading, dancing, gardening, pets, painting, craft, no fire cooking etc. Once, the child gets invested in these activities, they will naturally spend a substantial time off- screen, which is what we are aiming for. You may also allot house duties for them to “earn” online time, like dusting a room, sanitizing groceries, peeling vegetables, shelling peas, making their bed, wiping dishes, segregating garbage etc.


Q.1. There will be sudden power cut every now and then, so WiFi will be gone and mobile data connection is generally weak. The app/website which the school uses is also an issue

The first thing to do in any sudden technical issue/ glitch is to not worry. A calm mind can save the day. More importantly, your child emulates your mental state, if you are stressed out, your child will be the same. So please do not be stressed. With technology, some problems will also arise, so one has to deal with them calmly. Please keep the school/ teacher informed about the issue if possible. Also, if the teacher has not initiated a class, he/she must be facing some problem too, so be patient. If a class couldn’t be held/ attended, alternative arrangements might be made. If is site is down, it will work soon or an alternative arrangement might be worked out sooner or later and you will be notified. If there is no word, may be some major problem is being averted, keep revising older lessons and work on your child’s weaknesses. Like all problems, this too shall pass!

Q.2. Everyone does not have a computer

Unfortunately, everyone does not have a computer, mobile, internet connectivity and many other things that make life easy. There is unequal distribution in society, so what can be done? Well, if you have the means, please help out by sharing your resources, collecting funds and procuring a simple smart phone with data for deserving students, teaching a child while maintaining social distance. The government/ educational bodies have come up with wonderful initiatives such as classes on local DD channels, please find out about these and spread the word. Donate your old text books to students of the next batch. Revise old lessons; improve your writing skills by editing and re-editing your compositions. The gadget is there to aid us not to incapacitate us. All the best!


Marianne Johannes