Online learning: lamenting is my rational self

Md Mashiur Rahaman | Published: 00:00, Apr 11,2021


I do not consider Google as my god, and I do not want to submit my assignments to it. I want my classrooms, chairs, boards, teacher walking and talking live, and I want to exchange heartbeats while walking, going to the library, or sitting in the tea-stall, writes Md Mashiur Rahman

A UNIVERSITY is not only about reading some texts, writing some essays based on those texts, and appearing in different forms of exams, passing the courses, and getting a certificate. Universities are neither machines nor programs but diverse organisms where every cell is alive, where every cell has memories, and where every cell has the power to create memories. Yes, memories, universities are about memories, and about dreams, and about experiences, and about relationships, and not about grades, not about recognitions, and not about certificates only.

I know, I have got a little sentimental, and someone who is not willing to get accursed by my words will disenchant them by saying, ‘Huh! We have seen a lot like you.’ ‘Universities are for studying, and not for playing, not for loving, not for quarrelling, not for arguing, not for running, not for walking, not for smiling, not for sneezing, not for…, …, but for studying,’ they might add. But I am not getting distracted, and continuing with uttering my spells.

My spells are simple: give me my university life back! But coronavirus and entities who are stronger than coronavirus are collectively resisting the spell. And they are doing so for one year. For one year, in Bangladesh, there has been no university life for the students.

Now let me come out from my wizard self and be rational. And my rational self is lamenting. It knows, attending online classes are great, but not seeing anyone’s face, not shaking hands, not exchanging looks, smiles, and heartbeats are not so great, not getting attached with the teacher, and not seeing her/his face ever is not so great, not knowing and having conversations (before, during and after class) with classmates is not so great. It also knows that attending online exams is great, but forgetting simple spelling, forgetting how to write on paper and finishing an exam within a limited time is not great.

Simply speaking, online is not a place to acquire social skills. Not at all. And which office, which company, which entity will hire someone who does not have social skills? The introverts and the nerds like me are getting harmed the most, as we are not getting challenged by anyone, and therefore we are not learning how to negotiate between our type and reality.

And this is not something very simple I think. We will be such a generation who will forget the ways humans communicated before 2020. Epidemiologists will say it an exaggeration. They will say that pandemics are very normal, and they occur in regular intervals. I would agree and I would argue. I would say, this is a pandemic that did not give people some rest to think and recollect what they did wrong for which the disaster happened. This is a pandemic that made people busier than ever. And most importantly, this is a pandemic that made rich people richer than ever, especially the rich who are involved with internet-based businesses.

And here comes the question of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Zoom. These four tech giants are providing the lifeline to the online functionalities of the universities. All the class discussions, all the exams, all the academic and research activates are done by using the applications from these companies, which is disempowering the universities very much. If we consider a hypothetical situation where these companies got collapsed at the same time, many of the universities in Bangladesh, which does not have the experience of using any other learning management software, will be bound to halt their activities, at least for some days.

And paper gives privacy. Paper instigates imagination. Without using papers to take notes no student will get the experience of doodling in the classroom. Some might argue that we have other software where we can explore our creativity. I would agree and disagree with them. I would ask, how many students in Bangladesh have a fully functioning laptop or computer where the student can use graphic design software?

I do not consider Google as my god, and I do not want to submit my assignments to it. I want my classrooms, chairs, boards, teacher walking and talking live, and I want to exchange heartbeats while walking, going to the library, or sitting in the tea stall. But I know, coronavirus would disagree with me. And I will now reveal an astonishing fact. The fact is, the entities, who are stronger than the coronavirus, did not do anything substantial for the whole year so that the situation can get better.

In this situation, how can I tell my rational self not to lament? How can I tell him to get settled and wait for better days? Will the better days ever come? And even if they come someday, will I be still a student at university? The answers are not satisfying, either way. As there is no sign that the situation will get better soon. And I need a job so soon that if the government decides to continue with its exam postponed order, it will be disastrous. You know life, right? 

Md Mashiur Rahaman is a student of English at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.

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