Life will be easy if we know about the future. Hence, we have to be prepared for any kind of unprecedented change in life. Uncertainty and unpredictability make life more complex.

Since the virus first broke out in Wuhan, China, it has spread to almost every country, upending life and derailing the world economy. Now staying at home, keeping a distance, wearing a mask, working from home, online meetings and online learning have become the new normal.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has direct and indirect impacts on different aspects of life.

Here, as a lecturer at Khwopa College of Engineering, I would

like to share my experience on online teaching during this pandemic. The conventional classrooms have been supplanted by a virtual classroom, and the traditional teacher has become a virtual teacher.

Remote classes are not new, but for a country like ours, they are new and challenging for both students and teachers.

Although they help carry on with our academic calendar, the frequent power cut-offs, unstable internet, unavailability of multimedia to all the students, less interaction and a disturbing environment make remote classes less effective than physical classes.

There is also a generation gap between the teachers, with the younger ones being more technology-savvy than the senior faculty members. Proper training to the teachers instead of leaving them on their own would, thus, increase the effectiveness of online classes.

Online teaching was new for most of the teachers, including me. It is anxiety-inducing. "Like trees that fall in a forest with no one around to hear, my students were there but not there, absent but present". Personally, I have mixed feelings about online classes. I find them to be a one-way interaction. Most of the students stay silent even though they may have questions.

We have no idea if they understand what is being taught. When students' videos are off during class, we don't know if they are in the class.

Khwopa College uses MS Team along with ZOOM to conduct online classes. Lecture notes, instructional materials and exams are accessed by the students via MS Team. I feel like a facilitator more than a teacher.

We upload study material and assignments via MS Team, and set deadlines for submission.

Most of the students submit them on time, although some tend to delay.

Online classes remind us about the inequality among the students, although we study in the same college. Consistent and moderate internet speed, continuous power supply and availability of multimedia (mobile, laptop and smart board) would enhance the effectiveness of online classes.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 30 2021, of The Himalayan Times.