Online extracurricular activities — A boon or a bane?
On reading her friend Pummy’s text towards the end of the previous blog, Mrs Malhotra called her over. Ever since the covid-19 outbreak, online education had become the new norm and extracurricular activities from school had taken a serious toll. They were both in agreement that extracurricular activities play a vital role in a student’s life and due to the absence of these activities, kids are actually affected both mentally and physically.
Given the benefits of extracurricular activities towards providing a wholesome learning experience for children, it was very important to find new and viable ways to involve them in activities that they are interested in. Online extracurricular activities can be the potential solution given the success and growth of online learning over the past year but Pummy had her concerns though, and rightly so.
Mrs Malhotra, after the research she had done, was quite confident about the numerous advantages of online extracurricular activities and went on to explain to Pummy about the same.
Advantages of online extracurricular activities:
- Ease of access
One of the biggest advantages of online extracurricular activities is that it allows children to attend classes from a location of their choice, from any part of the world. There are no geographical restrictions whatsoever. Even with Covid-19 at its peak in Maharashtra, Ahaana didn’t have to miss out on her online creative writing workshop and that was possible because of the new forms of learning. With just a laptop and a stable internet connection, children can develop their interests into a passion and eventually make a career out of it in the future. Moreover, online classes could be recorded and referred to whenever needed. So, even if they missed certain classes, they can quickly catch up by accessing recorded lectures.
2. Reduced financial costs
Another advantage of online extracurricular activities is that it is very affordable when compared to conventional offline learning. The financial costs are reduced due to the elimination of transportation, student meals, and real estate costs. To add to it, there was no need to spend on study materials since everything would be available paperless online, which is quite environment friendly as well — explained Mrs Malhotra.
3. More efficient learning
Participating in extracurricular activities online can be more efficient and productive when compared to conventional learning due to the use of different online resources. Children make use of online videos, PDFs, podcasts, etc. to extend their learning efficiency beyond conventional textbook learning.
4. Learning style suitable for everyone
Each student has a different learning preference and style. Some prefer textbook learning, while some prefer learning through audio and others might prefer visual learning. Likewise, some students prefer classroom learning while others prefer one-to-one coaching.
Online extracurricular activities can be very flexible and can be personalised to cater to every student’s needs. There is a list of extracurricular activities and resources available to from to choose the best one that fits every child perfectly.
Mrs Malhotra was about to make her next point when Pummy interrupted. She agreed to almost everything that Mrs Malhotra had to say but also wanted to convey what she thought were the disadvantages of online extracurricular activities.
Disadvantages of online extracurricular activities:
- Inability to focus on screens
Students are accustomed to the conventional system of learning and taking part in extracurricular activities. Therefore, it might be very challenging for them to engage in online extracurricular activities and focus on their screens for a long time. This itself can be exhausting and the main objective of taking part in such activity will not be achieved. Moreover, there are greater chances that they are distracted by social media applications like Instagram and Facebook.
2. Technology issues
Another key challenge of online extracurricular activities is the internet connectivity. Not every city and village in India is blessed with an internet connection with a decent speed. So, if you don’t have a stable internet facility, it could affect a child’s learning process adversely.
Mrs Malhotra was quick to respond to this and added that since online learning might transform into a more hybrid learning system shortly, it was very likely that everyone will get access to a stable internet connection soon.
3. Sense of isolation
Learning can be more effective when students are present in the company of their teachers and peers. But in online extracurricular activities, children have very minimal physical interactions with their teachers or peers. This can cause a sense of isolation, therefore, affecting their learning process.
4. Increased Screen Time
As a parent, the main concern that Pummy had was to see her child spending more time staring at a computer screen. This increase in screen time is one of the biggest disadvantages of online extracurricular activities and could cause health hazards. Children develop bad posture, eye-straining, and other physical problems as a result of increased screen time.
It was getting late in the evening, Mrs Malhotra and Pummy realised this conversation can go on forever. What they both agreed to is given the fact that online learning has become the new norm and extracurricular activities for kids was super important, it is the right way to go about. Children would face difficulties initially, but if guided properly, parents can ensure that the challenges are taken care of. Once adopted and given its benefits, online extracurricular activities can be the best and the most viable option for children to develop and grow their interests.
What are your views on it? Do you think online extracurricular activities are a boon or a bane?