Virtual Studies: How Tech-Based Learning Can Help Students Deal with Exam Anxiety

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I remember the days leading up to that big test in school. An inexplicable and overwhelming sense of anxiety and terror used to take me over. Sweaty palms, fever, dry mouth, stomach pain, and headaches were some of the physical manifestations of this outright terror of examinations. Surprisingly, this feeling went away as soon as the test was over. Cut to 15-20 years later, when we’ve become parents ourselves. A lot may have changed from the time we were in school, but exam anxiety remains a constant. 

Around 80 percent of students in classes 9 to 12 suffer from anxiety due to exams and results, according to an NCERT survey. The NCRB revealed that 2,646 students committed suicide in 2015 due to “failure in examination”. The figures are petrifying, to say the least. 

What then can we parents, educators, and the government do to help students deal with exam anxiety?

As a technologist, I have an innate tendency to turn to technology, seeking answers to most real-world problems, and it rarely disappoints. I truly feel that tech-based learning can help students deal with exam anxiety to a great extent. 

I’m sure everyone reading this article will agree — we tend to remember for a longer duration and recall more easily what we experience, compared to what we’re told. In a study conducted by the University of Maryland, researchers found that participants remember information better if it is presented to them in a virtual environment vis-à-vis more traditional platforms like a two-dimensional desktop computer or hand-held tablet. 

Many of the participants said the immersive presence while using VR helped them focus better. About 40 percent of the participants scored at least 10 percent higher in recall ability using VR over a desktop display. 

But using emerging technologies like AR/VR requires some recalibration in what many of us think of as “studying”. I have enough friends who think the only time their kids are studying is when they have their heads buried in a book or are furiously writing/typing notes from memory. But learning is no longer linear or imparted through instruction. 

Institutions, classrooms, and teachers that consistently maintain superior learning outcomes are increasingly using technologies such as AR and VR to provide students with an immersive learning experience. Audio-visual aids are used during classes to enhance interaction. 

VR helps in recreating historical events and making geography and biology lessons accessible for all. Imagine being able to experience the Revolt of 1857, walk on the surface of the Moon, or explore the Amazon rainforests — all from the comfort of your home.

Customised and personalised experiences tend to stick with kids and they are able to learn faster. Moral of the story — don’t shy away from modern technological tools that can aid learning, both in school and while preparing for exams.

Technology has also enabled learning to go beyond the set school syllabus as well as descend physical boundaries, empowering students to learn. 

It allows 24×7 access to educational resources and teachers — enabling students to learn better. It is being used to create differentiated learning plans to meet the unique needs of every student. 

For instance, some kids learn by listening, some by watching, and some by reading. Technology has made multiple formats (audiobooks, podcasts, video books, regular books) accessible to all at affordable price points. 

Using them can help you prepare your child for exams by creating revision plans that use formats most easily understood by your child while identifying topics they are struggling with and offering additional assistance and support.

Imagine students in a classroom in a rural part of Rajasthan being able to follow a team of scientists on an expedition to Antarctica, view real-time images, videos, and ask questions through video conferencing and email. Not only this, these students can share their learnings with students in other classrooms in completely different parts of the world, discuss, debate, and collaborate on projects using tools such as Google Docs.

With technology as a facilitator, the walls of a classroom are no longer barriers to learning. And taking this idea a step further is the concept of Web 3.0. 

The adoption of technologies such as Web 3.0 will further help in democratising access to education. It will present itself as an open and collaborative platform where students and teachers can come together to share and create knowledge. 

Unhindered by factors such as proper infrastructure, trained teachers, and favourable government policies, children can truly experience the joy of learning and thrive, realising their true potential. Better equipped to face the examination, children are less likely to experience test anxiety. 
 
Technology also aids in hands-on learning, instead of simply mugging up the theory behind groundbreaking innovations. It allows students to practice theories and skills that they have learned. Needless to say, the more you practice, the better you can retain and recall the information.

Technology has also become a great enabler when it comes to education for children with special learning needs. It can provide them with assistive technologies, speech-recognition software, text-to-speech software, visual aids, audio aids, physical aids, and more. 

Think of the genius Stephen Hawking and his contribution to the field of theoretical physics, despite his condition. Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and could not move or speak on his own. 

He used a speech-generating technology in which the computer software translated what he typed on a keyboard (which he could do with simple gestures of two fingers or his cheeks) into a synthesised voice. 

Hawking is one of the best examples of how technology can help you overcome your limitations — physical or otherwise — and unleash your true potential.

In my opinion, what is ultimately needed to help kids get over the fear of examinations is an environment that supports them — both at home and in the classroom. Children should be able to confide in their parents and teachers must be always reminded that their grades are not reflective of their true knowledge and capabilities. 

The ultimate goal must be to mould them into honest and responsible human beings. 

(The author is the Chief Technology Officer at BrightCHAMPS, a skill-development platform that offers children an extra edge to succeed in their preferred field.)

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal. 

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