Stuck at home, students are looking at virtual activities, courses to stay motivated in the pandemic

Amid the pandemic, schools and colleges in India have been functioning virtually, severely disrupting the social skills and overall development of students

By Prarthna Bhalla

Covid-19 has now been a part of our lives for more than a year. Even though it has affected people across the globe in several ways, it has drastically altered the lives of students, causing deterioration in their physical and mental health.

Amid the pandemic, schools and colleges in India have been functioning virtually, severely disrupting the social skills and overall development of students. Especially when it comes to children of primary grades, school and immediate neighbourhood — their sources of social interaction and communication — have been snatched away.

College students have been missing out on their joyous campus life, which has a key role to play in preparing them for the future. This tremendous shift in academic structure has triggered an increased sense of anxiety, stress, anger, and loneliness in students, leaving them in a state of confusion and vulnerability.

In order to cope effectively with the changing environment, students have actively been indulging in recreational activities to help maintain an everyday balance and bring a sense of perspective.

Anindita Das, a student of Ambedkar College, is pursuing her Masters in Sociology. She came up with an idea of exercising daily with her friends by connecting with them on Zoom. “Finding the motivation to work out daily at home is really draining. So, my friends and I have set up a schedule to work out together by connecting virtually. We join at the same time and usually follow a common workout video or a dance routine from YouTube. It was difficult to keep up in the beginning, but within a week, we sensed a positive change in our body and mind. We feel a sense of accomplishment, which boosts our confidence and self-esteem too,” she said.

Enrollments for online classes and open courses also saw a massive surge since the pandemic began. Universities like Yale and Harvard provide a diverse range of options to those who wish to learn and enhance their knowledge on several subjects, most of which are like introductory lessons, providing an insight into new fields of study.

Google also gives out free courses for people who are interested in Digital Marketing and Business Development. Once you reach the end of the course, they provide you with a certificate.

Ananya Reddy, who is pursuing MA in English from Fergusson College, said she got to know about these courses through a social media post. “My online classes usually end by 1 pm. Once, while I was randomly surfing the internet, I stumbled upon several online courses that were accessible and sat well with my area of interest. Psychology is something that I was always interested in but never got a chance to take up academically. I registered for an introductory course at Yale University. It was free of cost and was structured into 20 lectures, each lecture about 1-hour long. In the end, I was supposed to take a test that evaluated my understanding of the concepts,” she said, adding the whole experience has been like a “productive respite” for her.

Many students also turned to virtual book clubs on social media platforms. Jai Sharma, an 18-year-old awaiting his 12th board exam results, found a sense of equilibrium in his routine by joining a small, virtual book club where they have conversations about different books they are currently reading. They connect once a week and have a discussion about their experiences which keep them motivated. Sharma said being a part of this virtual community “helps him sustain his reading habit and also serves as a great reminder about the fact that everyone is in this together”.

Currently, the country is bracing for the third wave. To safeguard the health of all students, the chances of them resuming offline classes — either at school or at college — appear slim. It is important then, for students to keep themselves motivated, and for their parents to keep them engaged in activities that enhance their cognitive and social skills to have a holistic personality development.

(The writer is an intern at Indian Express)

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