COVID-19 brought around a wave of changes in all our lives and forced us to rethink our lifestyles. With the rather sudden announcement of the lockdown in March, educational institutes were forced to transition to the online mode and this drastic change proved to be challenging not only for the authorities but also for the students.

We, as students, faced several challenges in adjusting to the online mode of education. The rapidly increasing screen time resulted in spending nearly 8-12 hours a day on the laptop, attending lectures, doing assignments, and studying online. Some of us also faced internet issues, personal issues such as lack of a suitable work environment, and resources which made it hard for us to stay motivated while attending lectures online. The online mode of teaching has been challenging for the faculty too as, without the standard whiteboard technique, it was difficult for them initially to get the concept across in a detailed way. The collaborative environment of studying with peers in hostels and libraries which is an essential aspect of learning at IIITD was also missing. 

Apart from these, Mental health has also been one major challenge for all of us since a lot of students coped with stress about attending lectures, completing deadlines, and uncertainty about grading. Spending practically the whole day in front of a screen not only impacted our attention span but also hampered our ability to learn, leading to lower attendance and lack of class participation. The bandwidth issues also discouraged us from asking questions in live lectures since it makes communication inconvenient. 

However, these challenges could not dampen the spirit of the IIITD Community. The institute administration and faculty members took notes of the issues that we were facing and overtime put in a lot of effort to conduct the online semester as smoothly as possible. The senate has actively been communicating with us on a regular basis to ensure that all concerns are timely taken into consideration. A lot of efforts have been put into action since the beginning of the virtual model of teaching. Most courses adopted long assignments and deadlines in place of time-bound exams and quizzes to minimize stress due to connectivity issues. In case of certain exceptions, oral exams were conducted for those of us who were facing extreme connectivity issues.

Recently, the institute also started an initiative to reimburse funds for internet charges to students. Faculty and TAs were encouraged to be more considerate of our concerns and make changes in the teaching and evaluation process whenever required. For some of us facing severe issues, the institute lent out laptops too and also allowed for the extension of the semester fees deadline.

To improve the virtual learning environment, some faculty members have been recording live lectures and sharing them with us to view as and when convenient. Teaching is being done on whiteboards to replicate the whiteboard model as closely as possible. The lectures are being conducted at a slower pace and extra tutorial sessions and office hours are held to help us get more clarity and clarify their doubts regularly. 

While the online mode certainly comes with a huge set of challenges for us as well as the faculty, everyone involved has been actively working towards making the situation better and easier to adjust to. We, the students of IIITD commend the administration for making constant efforts and addressing our issues in the most effective way possible. Not just us, but also the faculty and the institute have been incredibly open to changes and have tried their best to adjust and adapt to this mode of teaching. We all hope to be back on campus again soon and restore the hustle and bustle of the IIITD campus.

Blog By: Chhavi Keswani, CSAM Undergraduate | Batch of 2021