It’s been almost a year that schools have had to shut down abruptly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even now, in most states, schools have only reopened partially and in a staggered manner. The shift from classroom teaching to the virtual mode has opened up a Pandora’s box for teachers, students and parents alike. During the webinar on The Two Sides of Online Teaching, presented by Godrej Interio and EducationWorld, the panelists explored what the transition from blackboard to online classes means to India’s 9 million teachers.
The webinar conducted on February 5 included panelists Vandana Lulla, Deirector, Podar Group of International Schools, Sarojini Rao, Principal, Indus International School, Bangalore, Dr Amrita Vohra, Director – Education, GEMS Education, Delhi, Bharat Malik, Chairman, Arya Gurukul Group of Schools, Mumbai and Sameer Joshi, AVP Marketing, Godrej Interio. It was moderated by Summiya Yasmeen, Managing Editor, EducationWorld and ParentsWorld.
As per a recent survey conducted by Godrej Interio, one of the country’s leading Furniture brands, they covered almost 300 teachers and found that online teaching does have it’s advantage like zero commute time, increased work flexibility and has made them tech-savvy. On the other hand, disadvantages include, longer working hours with no breaks, isolation as well as health problems because of prolonged gadget use. So how can virtual learning be made more interesting?
The advent of technology has made us realised that the purpose of education has to be understood, says Sarojini Rao. She adds that in the Indian context, education’s main purpose is to prepare for a career and therefore more focus was put on examinations and practicals but now it has shifted towards preparing students to be live entrepreneurs, which is more about skills, competency and mindset. Technology has made us realise that it is more important to connect with each child rather than just focus on teaching each subject.
As per the survey by Godrej Interio, only 39.3 percent of teachers have ever received any formal training on online teaching, 39.3 percent were self-taught and 21 percent have never received any training. Rural areas of India have suffered the most as there have not been any internet connectivity and the availability of devices was low, says Bharat Malik. Meanwhile, some NGOs have come forward to help teachers in training for online classes. Now we have remote learning and this is going to be the future, adds Malik.
The effect of the pandemic on the mental and emotional well-being of teachers has been quite drastic. The work-life balance for teachers working from home was very difficult to maintain, says Vandana Lulla. Teachers worked hard to make teaching -learning a fun process. Most of the teachers were not equipped with technology as well. But they learnt the entire process. They also had to be available 24×7 for the schools, students and parents as there were a lot of communications going one between all the stakeholders to give the best education for students, adds Lulla.
Amrita Vohra says “Teachers are dramatic presenters” and gives an interesting example – “Just think of a dramatic presenter in front of a live audience and the same thing taken to a video mode with a lot of backend support. Our teachers were thrown into the later version and they was just not the dramatic presenter but also the editor, script writer, designer, counselor as well as the manager. So suddenly, she is given something she was not prepared for.” But the teachers did learn new skills and have moved a level up and they too are learners now. Despite all these, teachers have brought innovation in the way they can make things happen in classrooms, adds Vohra.
Sameer Joshi says that the survey made a few things prominently clear like longer work hours and increased screen timing were an issue for teachers. 72 percent of the respondents reported some form of musculoskeletal pain including neck and back pain due to the lack of formal work settings, which also leads mental stress among teachers.
Check out the full video here: