Bengaluru: In times of social distancing, online education has become the only way to run schools and colleges across the country. Most engineering colleges in different States have adopted the 'new normal' by reopening colleges on online interactive platforms. Thousands of students attend their lectures sitting in front of a computer screen every day. Though the theory lectures are going on, most students are apprehensive about practical sessions and online examinations.
Maharashtra was one of the worst hit States by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has affected the education system there. However, most engineering colleges are now virtually open for students. "Online classes are informative and interactive, but I hope to attend in-person lectures as early as possible. Sitting in front of the screen for the whole day is exhausting. Teachers are responsive. We can clarify our doubts during online lectures or send them email. Most teachers reply in time. Except for Electronic Engineering, no other subject’s practical sessions have started yet. I am excited to go to college and enjoy the campus life," says Sarang Kulkarni, a Computer Engineering student from K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai.
Considering the time lost owing to the lockdown, Mumbai University has reduced the duration of the first semester. It has even reduced the syllabus to decrease the burden on students.
"Online teaching was a new task for teachers across colleges. It took us some time to adapt to the software and virtual teaching. We tried to make sessions as interactive as possible. However, we received a moderate affirmation from students. The classes were beneficial to regular attendees. We conducted practical sessions offline. Students were grouped in small batches and were called on different days. However, now we have resumed offline lectures," says Professor Mehtre, Head of Textile Plant Engineering at DKTE Society's Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, Maharashtra.
According to Harshavardhan Patil, a student of Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University College of Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra, most students attend only morning sessions. The attendance drops in the afternoon lectures. The teachers use presentations and photographs to make lectures interesting. The college has created a WhatsApp group for assignment submission. No practical sessions have been conducted yet.
"The college conducted the second semester examination using google forms, where we had to answer multiple-choice questions and upload handwritten answer sheets. They introduced a software for the third semester examination to reduce the uploading work. For practical examinations, we were asked to write procedure and theory. Actual practicals were not conducted. As I am from Automobile Engineering branch, practical sessions are of utmost importance for learning. However, during the practical sessions, we have to follow the instructions given by the professor and observe the mechanism and parts of our own vehicles," says Srivarasan, a student of Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata, West Bengal, has commenced online theory lectures and reserved the practice sessions for in-person classes. According to the institute, practical sessions of first and second semester will be conducted in the second semester when offline learning will resume.
Karnataka’s Manipal Institute of Technology has conducted lectures, internal examination, and mid-semester examinations online. However, the semester examination will be in offline mode. Most students have arrived on the campus as February 22 was the reporting date. The college has arranged in-person revision sessions for students to clarify their doubts.
"As the examinations are approaching, most students are busy with self-study. Owing to this, the response of students to the revision lectures is poor. According to the college, the lectures in the second semester will be conducted online, and the practical sessions will be conducted in the college," says Sushant Raj, a student of Computer and Communication Engineering.