Nearly half the 8,005 students surveyed hoped colleges would revert to offline mode
A pilot study commissioned by the Directorate of Collegiate Education into digital learning during the COVID-19 era found 65% of college students did not possess laptops, personal computers, and tablets.
However, smartphone availability among students has considerably improved with nearly 80% having exclusive use of the device. Only 0.51% of the 8,005 students who participated in the survey lacked smartphone access.
The findings came to light during a research study undertaken by the Psychological Resource Centre, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, on the academic and psycho-social functioning of college students amid the pandemic.
The study incorporated the views of students of 182 government and aided colleges in the State through an online survey conducted on March and April. The sample distribution included students from the arts, science and commerce streams and had representation from General, OBC, SC, and ST categories as well as APL and BPL socio-economic sections.
Only 0.51% of the students who took part in the survey lacked smartphone access. While students from OBC and SC categories had significantly lower access, 87.29% of those from ST communities had exclusive access, largely thanks to schemes implemented to distribute smartphones to children from the sections, the researchers said.
Over 82% students spent up to ₹300 every month for data access, while an almost similar proportion subscribed for daily data plans for up to 1.5GB.
A large proportion of 88.2% students have been able to attend over 50% of online classes. While 0.5% have been unable to access digital classes, 3.3% could attend less than a quarter of the sessions. Network connectivity issues have created difficulties for 68.93% of students.
Google Meet was apparently the most preferred platform used by teachers for online classes (92.19%), while the free and open-source learning platform Moodle could attract only 12.88%.
Despite the greater emphasis on online learning, around half (48.2%) hoped the colleges would revert to the offline mode in the next academic year. While only 6.5% were in full support, 24.1% preferred online learning ‘to some extent.’ A majority of students (85.31%) rated online classes to have average, below average, or very low effectiveness.
According to official sources, the Higher Education Department is planning a comprehensive study, having identified its prospective contours through the pilot research.
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