As COVID-19 closes schools and colleges, teachers and students brace for massive experiments in virtual classrooms
The Covid-19 outbreak has caused many countries to shut down educational institutions, India being among them. But in efforts to make sure that the students’ learning doesn’t suffer, teachers have started reaching out to students through virtual classrooms.
It appears to be a success, as teachers and students alike advocated for the virtual platforms they provide access to course content from anywhere with time flexibility, additional information sharing, and spontaneous feedback.
“Since the imposition of Section 144 in the state, we have taken a conscious decision to go online and reach out to our students virtually. We are trying to utilise this period of social distancing for productivity,” informs Dr Gulshan Gidwani, Principal of St Mira’s college in Pune.
Innovating out of necessity
Although virtual classroom training has been in practice for over a decade, not many educational institutions have embraced technological advancement. However, the ongoing crisis has pushed institutions to adapt to this preexisting advantage.
“Every crisis comes with stress and opportunity, and Coronavirus has come with an opportunity to think about different models. The same thing is happening with education. Virtual training has always been there but we don’t see newer ways till the time we are not pushed,” decodes management professor, Dr Bhavya Soni, further explaining that this is a win-win solution for all as teachers don’t want to waste time and miss out on syllabus.
“This is the best time that we use some innovative ideas and technology. This will help to push the educational standards further positively,” he opines.
Similarly, Dr Gidwani also agrees that the necessity of the time of Coronavirus has led the education institutions to use the online training well. “It is always the case that very few people experiment with something innovative unless the need is felt. This is the demand of the time: To push the boundaries and break the conventional ideas to complete the educational targets,” believes the principal.
Pushing the boundaries
While the idea of using a virtual classroom looks progressive, many teachers are not well equipped with technology and prefer conventional physical classroom training. However, the current situation has pushed many educators to learn the ropes.
“Teachers are not prepared, but this is the beauty of this time it has given them the opportunity to learn something new and come out of their comfort zones and upgrade themselves. They haven’t done this before, but they are making attempts to learn and reach out to students,” says Assistant Professor Sumedha Soni, who also happens to be the youngest person to provide virtual classroom training to her fellow senior teachers at her institution.
Across the country, many teachers at various institutions have started uploading video lectures, notes, and presentations online and they are taking live lectures for students on different online portals as well.
Fortunately, this has been a hit with students as well. Delhi based Akshay Badhal, a charted accounting student shares that virtual classes are keeping the students busy and informed not to miss out on any topic.
“The best thing I realise now is how it is helping me not to miss any class. We have no idea when things are going to be sorted, and for CA studies, you don’t want to miss any day. Virtual classes are keeping us busy although the fun of physical class is missing, for time being it is welcomed,” he shares.
Dealing with obstacles
As colleges across the country turn to online classes on very short notice, there are a host of challenges like Internet access, laptops, sounds, and troubleshooting of the applications. While it gives flexibility to both the parties, it breaks the classroom’s learning environment.
“It does help students to not to break the learning, but as a teacher, I am always in doubt if all my students are able to grab the knowledge. Students often complain that the voice is breaking and sometimes it gets difficult to join the meeting on the apps,” reveals digital marketing trainer Gaurav Khuteta and adds that virtual training is more challenging for teachers as they have to create more infographic content.
“Students easily get bored, so to keep them motivated and be the active participant, teachers need to make their content more interesting, engaging and creative,” explains the trainer in conclusion.