he way the teaching-learning happened has completely changed in the past 2 months and we were all introduced to new terms like online classes, webinars, tools like GoToMeeting, zoom, WebEx etc. This may be a real challenge for the school students ofcourse as they would have barely started learning anything online until the covid outbreak and all of a sudden, a dump load of materials were delivered to them through WhatsApp. However, the challenge is very different with respect to the higher education institutes wherein, the learners are comfortable using the online platforms for teaching learning process for a while thanks to portals like SWAYAM.
The real challenge in higher education scenario is the learner engagement where the Online learner has their choice of self-paced learning and prefer the recorded lectures rather than being in a live class session. This is primarily because the students prefer to learn in their own pace and time. However, the teacher feels that their task is incomplete unless they deliver their session and make sure that the learner has responded yes or no.
The satisfaction that the teacher sees on the happy faces of the students can never be replaced by any online platforms.
Also, using the technology for the time being has given us the chance to explore what best we could do through the online platforms which we have not done earlier highlighting the lack of time as a reason. Learning which was constrained only to college hours have extended now and students are able to realize the potential of the Mobile phone they have in hand atleast. Many times sincere students would have felt bad for not attending a session and not being convinced by the explanation of their peers on the missed classes. They always have dreamt of having the missed sessions in the form of videos. However, since such students are hardly a few, the institutes have not taken that seriously and used it as an opportunity to insist on attendance. With the Covid already causing and about to cause financial losses, travel restrictions, social distancing, health concerns, etc. in the near future, institutes must ensure that they somehow make sure that the Online platform is used in parallel with their traditional classroom sessions.
This would be beneficial for all the students who can’t attend the face to face sessions or willing to use the face to face sessions as a golden opportunity for learning Higher Order Skills like Problem Solving.
Solution: Flipped Classes! So what Exactly is Flipped Classroom and what gets Flipped?
Flipped classroom is simply defined as classwork for students and homework along with teachers instead of the vice-versa that happens in regular classrooms.
Here, the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator wherein the learner is at the comfort of teachers in solving something which is otherwise difficult for them to do on their own and forcing them to copy from his peers. For the teachers, it is a relief as they could focus on higher order stuff which they miss out due to the lack of time and can give personal attention to learners, ensuring that they attain the necessary learning outcome of the course. However, the teacher has to make sure that the Flipped class is primarily used for the aspects which otherwise could not be available for the learners through some other sources like YouTube.
It’s more like making the classroom as a discussion forum to have a real, qualitative experience for the learners. This greatly helps the teachers to know each and every learner in terms of their understanding and also paves the way for them to design the lectures according to the level of their learners. The Flipped Classroom requires dynamic participation of the teacher to ensure that the alterations to the course are made then and there to ensure that the active learning takes place with each and every learner. With the financial constraints created by the higher education aspiration on the parents and students, added up with the current covid driven financial constraint, students would prefer to join the courses that ensures a secure job opportunity for them. This would be possible only through flipped sessions only then the student would be prepared for the needs of the industry by giving more time on practice rather than just listening in the class. The Augmentation of Online learning along with the traditional classroom based learning would greatly benefit the teacher in collecting the data related to the learner, which would be analysed automatically through algorithms and presented to the teacher in a way they can interpret it for further action. Also, the teacher is given an opportunity to create an alternative learning path for the slow learners and enable them to catch up with the rest of the class through the augmented classes scheduled in the online platform. This would greatly help the slow learners to get back quickly from the place where they got stuck and be a part of the peer group for the collaborative activity.
Digital Pedagogy/Andragogy for the Online Sessions
The Digital content to be delivered to the students over the online sessions is to be properly made and curated to ensure that it caters the learning objective of the learners. This is quite a simple task in a traditional classroom session as the teacher is sharp enough to get within a single class whether their learners are able to followup or not. However, with the basic contents delivered online in a flipped session, even a small flaw in the appropriateness of content delivered to the learners would greatly affect the Flipped session as lacking the foundational knowledge would prevent the learner from actively engaging in the higher-level tasks based on that. Pedagogy is the way to make the children learn effectively and andragogy is doing the same for the adults. A learner who may understand a content in animation better than the same being explained through the text. So as a teacher it is their responsibility to ensure that the contents created for the topics convey the learning objective effectively for the learners. This could be done primarily through a short assessment on the content after it has been consumed by the learner. The assessment is an indicator of the level of understanding of the learner hence it must be set in a way that reflects the Outcome of the contents delivered. Non attainment of outcome should be bridged through recommendation of alternative content or in the next face to face interaction. However, such interactions have to be duly recorded and assessed to ensure the growth of the user to be tracked. Assessments play a vital role as it reflects the learning of the students and must be purely outcome based and the components of the marks should exactly tell what the learner is good at and what not.
Content is the king
Having understood the learning pattern of the learners through the traditional classroom sessions, it’s time to make the appropriate content that helps those types of learners off the classroom consumption also. This would greatly benefit the teachers to concentrate on the Higher Order Skills of the learners which otherwise would be impossible with the limited classroom interaction only. The students also have to realize that the learning has become ubiquitous and just going to college and coming back wouldn’t help them to get the kind of jobs that existed in the pre-covid era. Job losses would be there and certain organization models will vanish as the people slowly realize what’s important and what is not for them. Hence, the learners must be prepared for the kind of skill sets that can address the issues of the society that may arise due to atmanirbhar model and social distancing. The real purpose of education must be realized only by learning the skills needed for the domain of study. Here, the Content is the King as it caters the learning objective and is able to help the learner to attain the learning outcome. The Content preparation is a cumbersome task as it has to be tailored with the assessments that evaluate the attainment. Tailoring the tools required to assess different objectives is another important aspect to make the pedagogy similar to that of a classroom. For Ex. inorder for a student to have attained an outcome of creating a computer program, the online platform should support an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to create and test the program. With the support for Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), various tools can be integrated into online platforms by the teachers along the learning path of the learners. Teachers should put in their best efforts in the days to come to prepare quality content considering flipped classroom implementation and imparting Higher Order Skills in classrooms. They should be familiar with the digital tools and ways of creating interactive content before the next session begins. More of hands-on practice during the lockdown period would be great help for them to hone their skills.
Verdict: A self-Sustainable country dream can be achieved only if we understand what exactly we rely on from other countries. Engineers should play a vital role as an enabler of technology right from agriculture to defence. The faculty of Engineering should support that by being a facilitator, imparting Higher Order Skills to the students. Together we may achieve the dream.
About the Author:
Dr. V.R. Raghuveer is Principal of Indore Institute of Science and Technology, Indore. He holds a PhD degree in Learning Technologies Domain from VIT University, Vellore. He is academic advisor to leading North Indian Universities and Western University Colleges to implement skill training through LMS. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org