Partha Halder, North Head, FIITJEE Punjabi Bagh

As the HoD of the Chemistry Department at the FIITJEE Punjabi Bagh Centre, Partha Halder helps the students to prepare for one of the toughest exams in the country – IIT-JEE (Main & Advanced). He is also the Centre Head of FIITJEE Punjabi Bagh Centre & is the Academic Head of the entire FIITJEE group. Halder graduated as a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Calcutta University post which he did his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering. Partha secured top rank in the university exam and hence was awarded a scholarship by the Government of West Bengal.

 

Offline vs Online coaching, which offers effective class dynamics? It has been a bone of contention for a while now. In an offline class, strong teacher-student interaction and engagement forms the basis for effective learning. A teacher can easily gauge a student’s body language, and accordingly, assess their learning needs, motivate them from time to time and extend emotional support. A teacher could walk up to a student, check their notebook, evaluate the steps used for problem-solving, help to identify the mistake and clarify their doubts instantly. Individual attention & personal touch are the key essences in an offline classroom. But in an online coaching platform, a teacher cannot engage to such an extent. So, online coaching can supplement offline classes to some extent but cannot replace it.

But now, amid lockdown posed by COVID-19 pandemic, time is the most valuable item, especially for students who are preparing for high stake competitive exams. In this scenario, online coaching is inevitable, which comes in many flavours. Instructor-Led Coaching and Self Paced Learning are the two broad online coaching varieties. While the former is similar to an offline classroom in the sense that a teacher drives the learning objective and also the pace of learning through LIVE interactive sessions; the latter passes the learning control onto the students so that it’s entirely their prerogative “when to study” and “how much to study”. Class dynamics, i.e. teacher-student interaction takes a hit in both the online coaching varieties.

Let’s try to understand a little better. In “Self paced learning” model, it mainly comprises pre-recorded videos of lessons by subject teachers with/out animation. The learner has the control; they can watch the videos as per their convenience. It’s one-way communication, and there is no scope for a student to interact with the teacher and/or peer group. For this model to be useful, learners will have to be highly motivated and should have a personal drive towards their goal. This model could be an effective model for adult learners and for those subjects which needs to be read and memorised, for example, college students preparing for banking, civil services or recruitment exams.

For K-12 segment, i.e. students are of lower age group, especially those preparing for competitive exams like IIT-JEE, NEET, NTSE, KVPY they need a lot of intervention by the teacher along with parental guidance so that concepts start building along with IQ, Logical & Analytical thinking ability. To develop these skills, the interaction between teacher-student has to be deeper, stronger and synchronous. Pre-recorded sessions, offering one-way communication, may not give the desired output. So, 2-way synchronous communication is a way forward. Instructor-Led coaching in the form of a LIVE interactive class is the best option, thus imitating an offline class.

Even then, there could be other factors impacting class dynamics. Biggest of them is network/connectivity issues, which can seriously dampen class dynamics & the flow of a class. There could be other factors too like a distraction at home, fatigue due to long screen viewing time and so on. To conclude, in the current scheme of things online LIVE class is the best possible solution to ensure students keep learning and that they can utilise their time. Still, there is no substitute for offline learning in a conventional classroom setup. So we have to get back to traditional offline classroom setup once the situation becomes normal.

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