Given that 394 Universities and 60.53% of colleges are located in rural areas, there may not be suﬃcient infrastructure in terms of technology (hardware and software), connectivity, continued power supply and other resources required to eﬀectively implement online classrooms. Thus, it may not be feasible for every HEI to conduct synchronous online classes. Even when the universities or colleges may have reliable internet connectivity and stable electricity supply, the physical campuses may not be accessible to faculty due to health related threats of COVID-19. In addition to this, their homes (especially in non-metro, non-tier-1 cities) may not be well-equipped to conduct synchronous online classes.
Further, more than 50% of the total enrolled students are from sections such as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/OBC/other minorities. These, along with several others from non-disadvantaged social groups may not have conducive home conditions for learning, and the financial wherewithal to invest in hardware/connectivity to participate in online classrooms. Even when such financial resources are available, the students’ homes may be located in areas with poor internet connectivity or erratic electricity supply, thus hindering their online learning opportunities.
Even for students from the middle-class spectrum, there may be lack of space and resources, and financial limitations to participate in online classrooms eﬀectively. For example, a family with three children may not be able to afford separate devices or separate spaces for all the children to participate in online classes.
Given the poor infrastructure in various parts of India including power and internet connectivity, faculty and students may not have the requisite infrastructure to participate in online classrooms.
It may not be feasible for every HEI to conduct synchronous online classes.
A lot of the classroom teaching is dependent on various formats and pedagogies such as:
These may not be eﬀectively implemented in online formats and will require innovation in teaching and learning methodologies, as well as investment in technology-based platforms.
Not having students face-to-face within the confinement of a physical classroom may hinder the interaction between students and teachers. Even within the online format, students are usually required to keep the cameras oﬀ due to bandwidth constraints, making it challenging for the faculty to understand the receptiveness of students.
Also, in the absence of the peer-to-peer interactions that are common on physical campus, and lack of extracurricular activities, students will not have the required social and emotional development opportunities.
These are essential for developing students with well-rounded personalities, helping them build an eﬀective social network, and supporting them in understanding the values of collaboration, team-work, diversity, practical implementation of skills learned, and interpersonal skills.