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Covid-19: Challenge & Response

EducationWorld June 2020 | Education Briefs

The silver lining of the Covid-19 crisis and the susbequent lockdown of all education institutions from KG to Ph D is that it has stimulated innovative ICT solutions to ensure continuity of teaching-learning. Here’s how several randomly selected education companies and institutional managements are responding to the Covid-19 Challenge & Response.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Shemford Futuristic School, Burdwan

Shemford Futuristic School (SFS), Burdwan (West Bengal) in collaboration with its strategy and communications partner Rite Angles, has confronted the Covid-19 pandemic challenge by introducing an innovative School at Home programme to sustain uninterrupted learning of students. The features of the School at Home online learning programme are:
Teacher training. Teachers are trained by ICT experts through interactive and informative training sessions to enhance online teaching on Zoom and other apps.
Structured learning. Live classes are conducted for every class through Zoom and WhatsApp platforms according to weekly time-tables. Students post their homework on WhatsApp groups for periodic assessment.
Online assessment. Google Forms is leveraged for online assessment of students. Teachers also provide regular assignments and worksheets as part of the school’s continuous learning system.
Student-teacher connect. Students interact with teachers in dedicated WhatsApp groups to clarify doubts and coordinate daily assignments and homework. Class teachers note absentees, their reasons of absence, and send study material to them.
Sports & co-curricular education. Given SFS’ strong focus on sports and co-curricular education, online health and fitness, yoga, music and dance classes are also being conducted online on a regular basis.
Management motivation. Teachers are provided with eBooks and all the requisite resources to provide high-quality online education.
“Witnessing the transformation of our teachers and students into digital savvy online learners is a very satisfying experience. Our path-breaking online teaching-learning initiative has transformed my attitude and outlook towards digital learning. I am looking forward to ideating more innovative ways to respond to changing times,” says A. Stephan Raj, principal, SFS.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: First in Math India Pvt. Ltd

Mumbai-based First in Math India Pvt. Ltd (FIMI, estb.2014), a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania (USA)-based Suntex International Inc (estb.1988), has launched its Global No Cost Programme to ensure students continue to learn maths during the prolonged lockdown of schools following outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since mid-March, 12.3 million worksheets have been uploaded online in 80 days and students around the world have solved over 25 million problems on the First in Math platform from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, 63,000 new classrooms in India have enrolled with FIMI.

The features of the Global No Cost programme are: interactive guided maths practice, embedded assessment and remediation learning cycles aligned to learning outcomes, and immersive maths learning and self-assessment in real-time.

“Ed-leaders have talked about moving away from lectures and standardised assessments, but the leap was too far to take. By default, Covid-19 pushed all schools and parents to adapt to flipped/blended learning. Each day, I see schools mounting the steepest learning curve that education has seen,” says Monica Patel, CEO, FIMI.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Educon International School, Baner, Pune

The Educon International School (EIS), Baner, prides itself for being among the first schools in Pune to respond to the national lockdown threat through timely implementation of on-campus containment measures and ensuring a smooth transition to online learning through its student-centric Virtual Learning Framework. The framework encapsulates Skype, MS Teams, flipped classroom, WhatsApp videos, Facebook, live platforms and educational tools Kahoot, Bricmath, Coderz and Flipgrid.
EIS’ comprehensive virtual learning strategy includes:
Video lessons. EIS’ flipped classroom pedagogy encourages students to study concepts at home and discuss them with teachers and peers in virtual classrooms.
Online summer camp. Co-curricular activities including daily art and crafts DIY, music, dance, cooking, coding and science experiments, are routinely being conducted using the Facebook live platform to keep students actively engaged.
Series on coronavirus. A five-episode Unesco series on the coronavirus crisis was broadcast on Facebook to educate EIS students on ways and means to cope with the pandemic while learning in the lockdown era. Students were invited to produce videos on how they are coping and share them. These videos are available on EIS’ social media pages and Unesco’s official website.
Teacher training. EIS teachers are encouraged to sign up for online courses to keep themselves updated about new pedagogical practices and emerging new technologies.
“This unexpected situation has taught us to diligently explore digital and virtual learning options, engage students to experiment, brainstorm and experience wonderful learning outcomes,” says Vinita Khaladkar, principal, Educon International School.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Vedant International Preschool, Ahmedabad

Since the lockdown announcement in late March, the management and staff of the Ahmedabad-based Vedant International Preschool (VIP) have drawn up a comprehensive contingency plan for a smooth transition to digital online learning. The plan framework:
Innovative virtual learning solutions. Supported by technical staff, VIP teachers are regularly uploading specially designed age-appropriate educational content for youngest children and sharing recorded videos for play-learning activities at home on a weekly basis.
Regular interaction with staff. School heads regularly interact with teachers to discuss problems they face while conducting virtual classes to enable them to provide children enjoyable online learning experiences.
“We were among the first preschools in the city to use the digital medium to ensure youngest children remain active and engaged at home. Home schooling has proved ideal in these testing times. Apart from learning, our online teacher-pupil interactions teach children discipline and time management,” says Priya Rajpal, headmistress/franchise coordinator, VIP.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Woodlem Park School, Ajman, UAE

A pioneer in digital learning, the Woodlem Park School (WPS), Ajman (UAE) has quickly switched to providing digital online learning to all students through its Learning Management System which is supported by a range of new technologies.

The school follows a multi-pronged teaching-learning strategy that includes continuous teacher training, regular tracking and resolution of technical issues, obtaining parents’ feedback and supporting parents with convenient tuition fees payment options. WPS has also prepared a carefully tailored interim online learning programme for special needs children.

“In WPS, we believe no matter what disruptions we may experience, continuity of learning of the next generation must be maintained. In these difficult days of the pandemic, our mettle as educators and students has been tested, tried and proven. The WPS community is committed to ensuring that the learning process continues to instill hope of a brighter future for all,” says Prema Muralidhar, education affairs director and principal, WPS.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Venkateshwar Global School, Delhi

Responding swiftly to the emergency national lockdown, the management of the CBSE-affiliated co-ed K-12 Venkateshwar Global School (VGS), New Delhi, has connected with all students by providing online learning through a blend of digital pedagogies and technologies.

The features of VGS’ virtual learning programme are:
Embedding digital citizenship in students. Teachers share a set of explicit expectations for online participation, communication and etiquette before classes commence. Moreover, teachers ensure their instructions are crisp and to the point.
Focus on ‘active and blended learning’. VGS’ online lessons offer a blend of discussion, collaboration, video and audio clips, and hands-on exercises to enable students to grasp academic concepts. Role play, debates, open question-answer forums, flipped learning and other pedagogies are employed to ensure continuous learning.
Using digital tools and applications. Live online classes are conducted on the MS Teams platform with teachers using digital applications such as MS Forms, Class Notebooks, Assignments, Sway etc, to optimise online teaching-learning.
Connecting conceptual knowledge to the real world. Students are encouraged to apply theory to real world events and reflect on their responses to hypothetical situations.
Regular assessment and feedback. Teachers conduct regular quizzes and share assignments through MS Forms, Class Notebooks etc to assess students’ comprehension and provide prompt feedback. Doubts clearing and one-on-one personalised interaction is also available to enable learning and exchange of ideas.
Active involvement of parents community. Teachers regularly interact with parents for suggestions and obtain feedback about the school’s online learning initiatives.

“Our teachers are investing great effort to ensure that online classes are engaging and interesting for students. Our prime objective is to offer personalised learning that allows students to flower without losing their enthusiasm as they transition from physical to online classrooms,” says Rajiv Solanki, chairman of VGS.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: The Green School Bangalore

A first mover in making a swift transition to online learning following imposition of the nationwide lockdown after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, The Green School, Bangalore (TGSB) has drawn up a comprehensive learning continuity plan.
Seamless virtual learning. The school has leveraged its Learning Management System platform to offer online education through a combination of flipped and blended learning pedagogies.
Teacher development. Continuous training of teachers is being provided using augmented reality and Microsoft tools to enable them to make online classes more engaging to improve students’ learning outcomes.
Community engagement. All stakeholders have been mobilised to ensure provision of proper meals and basic necessities for students and families experiencing financial downturn during the lockdown period. The school also conducts weekly webinars to share valuable insights with all stakeholders.

“When the entire country went into an abrupt lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, our first priority was to safeguard the health of the school community. By discerning opportunity in these lockdown challenges, we quickly adapted to new pedagogies to ensure continuous learning for our students and smooth sailing for all our stakeholders,” says Usha Iyer, principal, TGSB.

Covid-19 Challenge & Response: Griffins International School, Kharagpur

In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak and subsequent national lockdown, the management of Griffins International School (GIS) has ensured learning continuity for all students by designing innovative online teaching-learning solutions supported by proven digital learning platforms. GIS conducted its first live virtual class for class X students on March 26 and soon provided online learning to all, including primary school children.
Highlights of GIS’ virtual learning programme include:
Faculty training. GIS teachers are periodically provided ICT skills training to enable them to conduct high quality virtual classes and prepare learning resources and lectures. Webinars are also conducted for teachers to hone their skills and keep them abreast of the latest trends in online teaching-learning.
Physical and extra-curricular education. Videos on physical exercise for students to follow at home are also shared by teachers. Under their teachers’ guidance, students also celebrated Rabindra Jayanti and Mother’s Day online.

“Despite the challenges of moving to online pedagogies, it has been an excellent learning experience and we are overwhelmed with the positive feedback we are receiving from students and parents. Our teachers, too, are satisfied with their professional development and students’ learning outcomes. We also mandate sufficient breaks between virtual classes so students don’t suffer screen fatigue and eye strain. Moreover, we are in constant touch with the parents to address their issues and incorporate their feedback,” says Sarbari Brahma, principal, GIS.

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