The Infinity School’s Webinar On Online Education: Debunking Myths About Screen Time, Mental Health & Online Learning Outcomes

9 Aug 2020, Sunday: The Infinity School, Greater Noida West.

This Sunday, The Infinity School, a K12 co-ed school in Greater Noida West, hosted a webinar on the ‘Impact of online education on kids,’ to address growing concerns around pandemic education, learning outcomes of online classes, the need for holistic education in early years, increasing screen-time & the mental health of children.

The keynote speaker of the webinar, Dr. Himanshu Rai (Director, IIM Indore), reinforced the need for introducing holistic education in the early years for students to achieve success in higher classes. Among the pearls of wisdom shared by Dr. Himanshu Rai, was the crucial need to identify ‘Swa-dharmai’ i.e., things one is passionate about.

Citing examples from children’s books, Dr. Rai explained the difference between being literate and educated. Education, according to him, is the realisation of one’s ignorance, followed by developing humility, which comes with knowing there’s much to be learned. Encouraging students to figure out their purpose in life, he asked them not to identify themselves with titles, professions & designations, but with the context they’re currently in and the passion they’re driven by. Having a sense of direction, appropriate engagements & exposure to multiple experiences since early childhood help kids unlock their true potential, thus, facilitating holistic development in the later years.

Other speakers on the panel included renowned experts from different fields, Dr. Bhavna Barmi (Sr. Clinical & Child Psychologist, Fortis Group of Hospitals), Dr. Paul M Sharma (Director, HOD & Sr. Eye Surgeon, Max Hospitals), and Mr. Balasubrahmanian S (Head- Learning & Transformation, Chrysalis).

In these difficult times when nearly all the schools & educational institutions had to unexpectedly deliver online education via digital assignments, virtual classrooms, and audio/video, many parents voiced their concerns regarding high expectations & burden on online learners. Sr. clinical & child psychologist, Dr. Bhavna Barmi established the importance of having a consistent environment for learning at home to ensure mental well-being of children. She talked about various ways in which online classes fill the emotional void created by stress. They help students develop good interpersonal relationships, socio-emotional stability, reflection skills & a constructive, well-structured routine—all of which, are important to maintain the mental health of children during lockdown.

Dr. Parul debunked some common myths about screen time in context with online education. Requesting parents & learners to retrieve information from valid sources only, she listed out certain do’s & don’t of screen time for children. The sr. eye surgeon advised kids to have intermittent breaks in between their online classes (by 10:10 or 20:20 rule), i.e., 10/20 minutes of screen time followed by 10/20 seconds of rest for the eyes. Moreover, she identified individual genetics, good posture, distance from the screen, ambient lighting, screen size, good diet, etc. among other crucial factors affecting children’s vision.

Mr. Balasubrahmanian S talked about summer slide- the tendency of young ones to struggle to catch up, following a long vacation or gap in learning. He suggested tips for parents and educators to continue learning at home, using a mix of synchronous & asynchronous tools, as the solution. The Head of Learning & Transformation at Chrysalis (one of India’s fastest growing educational research & innovation organisations) supported the idea of independent learning (providing basic learning material & scaffolded instructions) in online classes, with discussions, question-answering rounds & problem-solving sessions to create self-directed, independent learners. Mr. Bala stressed on the importance of setting a relevant objective of education, which should be, moving from content delivery or course completion to fact retention and generation of learning outputs measured by skills developed in children.

Among the panellists of the discussion were Mr. Harinder Chhabra (IIM-A Alumnus, Director – The Infinity School), Mrs. Sangeeta Kapoor (Principal, The Infinity School) and Ms. Upasana Bhattacharya (Head- Curriculum, Teacher Training & Capacity Building, The Infinity School) who provided a summary of various measures employed by their school to make online classes more interesting.
The Infinity School’s webinar on ‘The Impact of Online Education on Children’ explored many aspects around motivating children, parents & educators to make learning effective during the lockdown. These times could be used well to empower students & teachers in terms of life skills, build basic capacities and happiness quotient— factors that drastically influence holistic development, academic performance & learning outcomes in the long run.