In conversation with Ashwani Awasthi, Managing Director RICS SBE.
Strategies to cope up with the impacts of COVID-19 on the teaching & learning process.
The COVID-19 outbreak has deprived education institutions of the on-campus physical presence of the students. While the world battles the pandemic, education institutions have given their best to ensure the continuity of the education without comprising on the quality to ensure that students get a similar experience. In order to achieve this, the education institutions had to overnight move from an on-campus face to face mode to an online virtual mode to ensure that the learning doesn’t stop.
It is well understood that the dynamics of a physical class are diametrically different from conducting virtual classes, but the faculty supported by the institutions have pitched in enthusiastically and innovatively to make the virtual classes more engaging and minimize the challenges posed by the pandemic. Furthermore, access to technology alongwith the commitment of the faculty is contributing to the success of this redefined classroom setting which ensures the continuity in the academic calendar without any interruptions. Industry experts are also engaged to interact virtually with the students to share the effects of the lockdown on businesses and how the industry is gearing up to face life post Covid 19.
As a part of the learning process for the students in these times, with a lesser activity to distract them, should utilize the time well and put this period to good use. Additionally, they should:
- Make all efforts to stay safe & healthy,
- Attend the online classes regularly,
- Finish any pending assignments,
- Read and research as much as possible in their areas of interest and life post COVID 19,
- Review their direction of travel.
What are the various initiatives being taken by the universities to build confidence among parents and students to join back classes?
The Standard Operating Procedure prepared by the University for the new normal include adherence to social distancing norms inside and outside the classroom by the students and the staff. This would mean that when the students return to the campus, there seating in the classroom is arranged in a manner that the social distancing norms are adhered to. Similarly, the students in the cafeteria, library, labs, auditoriums etc. are planned be seated in a social distancing way. Students in the hostel will also be required to observe the social distancing norms and will not be allowed to meet any outsiders post the classes. Regular sanitization of the building including common facilities would be carried out. Hand sanitizers would be placed at all common places to enable students and staff to regularly sanitize their hands. The universities will have controlled and limited entrances with complete sanitization and monitoring of temperature facility available at the entrance. All visitors will have separate entrance and will be attended in separate zones to ensure that they don’t come in contact with the students and other staff of the university.
All these guidelines will be shared in advance with the students and their parents to provide assurance on the health and safety of the students and build confidence to help students join back the classes.
Role of technology in training teachers to carry out online classrooms and how their experiences have been so far?
The pandemic had caused education institutions to discontinue on-campus face to face classes and given way to remote teaching through online classrooms, a very new concept to majority of the education institutions in India. However, it is commendable to note the complete shift in mindset in terms of adopting the technologies for the academic deliveries by the teachers across all the age groups. Technology has truly empowered the teachers and broadened their vision in terms of reach to their students as well as in delivering their classes online. There has been a complete shift in terms of moving away from traditional approach to the technology enabled solutions. Teachers have accepted this challenge with complete openness and have embraced the new normal to ensure that there is no disruption in the learning progress of the students.
This has not been easy to achieve as both, the teachers and the education institutions had to put in additional efforts to ensure engagement of students in classes, ensuring effectiveness of the delivery of the content through various online modes and seeking continuous feedback from the students and their parents to ensure a better student experience.
This has been achieved while majority of the teachers had to learn new methods of teaching by selecting the best of the available technology and resources for online academic delivery. Education institutions have helped teachers in enhancing their skillset in online delivery by providing various training opportunities. Simultaneously the teachers have worked beyond their normal working hours to ensure their participation in various webinars, workshops and other engagement activities with their online community to help upgrade their skills. Additionally, the software manufacturers have also supported the education institutions by providing various trainings at no or a very subsidized cost to ensure that they are prepared for the new normal and stay relevant to the new market needs.
Overall, this has been a great experience which has helped teachers to develop an additional skillset to enhance their employability, become more effective in an online environment and since online education will have a very large share in the future, it has also helped the nation in capacity building.