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Online education: Expert committee submits final report to Karnataka government

July 7, 2020
Akhila Damodaran

The expert committee set up by the Karnataka government has submitted its ‘Guidelines during Covid-19 pandemic for technology enabled education and beyond’ to the education minister S Suresh Kumar on Tuesday. The committee, headed by Dr. M K Sridhar, an educationist and member of the committee which drafted the Draft National Education Policy 2019, observed that a distance learning mode is only feasible during the periods of high risk of infection.

Here are the guidelines for technology enabled distance learning recommended by the committee in its 51-page report:

  • Maximum screen time per session: 30 minutes (15 extra minutes if required for grades 6 onwards)
  • Maximum sessions per day: 1 to 4 (as per the age of the cohort)
  • Frequency per week: Alternative days of sessions for classes up to grade 2; up to a maximum of 5 days of sessions per week with at least 2 days of the week scheduled strictly to be non-screen time for Grade 3 and above
  • Parental presence is mandatory for children up to Grade 2 or an adult approved by the parent be allowed
  • Both synchronous (live sessions) and asynchronous (pre-recorded sessions) allowed. However, children and parents should not be troubled if they are unable to be present for live sessions
expert committee karnataka

Source: MK Sridhar Committee Report on Technology Enabled Education

However, the expert committee has stated that use of technology should not be the only option for distance learning in a school. It recommends that all feasible options be used and continuously revised keeping in mind its core objectives. A survey by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education indicated that the television ownership across the State is very high. The committee also recognised that researches world over have shown that technology enabled learning of any kind should be the last option and that children’s learning suffers when technology is used as the sole mode or the primary mode. The report states, “Given the above background, it is essential to acknowledge the serious limitations of a purely technology enabled education. However, given these unprecedented times, some use of technology may be required as the last option. The committee’s approach towards technology enabled education is based on certain foundational principles related to children in general and their education in particular.”

Key recommendations by the committee formed by Karnataka government:

  • Use of technology should not be the only option for distance learning in a school — All feasible options should be used and continuously revised keeping the core objectives as the basis.
  • When technology is used, no child must be deprived of access to education — if a child, for whatever reason, is unable to access through technology, the school should provide for ways in which the key learning objectives of that session/ module is accessible to the child.
  • Age appropriate approach — the duration and frequency of sessions suggested is based on what is suitable for different age groups and hence it has to be maintained at all times for any technology-based approach, when electronic or digital mode is used.
  • Curricular objectives have to be revised keeping the context in mind. The standard syllabus should not be transacted as is. Alternative academic syllabus, calendar and timetable has to be created by every school.
  • The focus has to be on developing active learning agents with skill sets such as ‘learning to learn’.
  • A blended approach should be followed with a mix of different modes. A singular type of approach, particularly a passive one-way mode in which children only listen to the teacher should be completely avoided for younger grades. The pedagogic approach has to be interactive — even asynchronous modules will have to provide for interactive activities that the children are encouraged to do; some passive sessions can be done for higher grades only.
  • Hybrid options should be adopted — collection of worksheets, activity sheets, hand-outs from the school to the parents should be planned so that children are provided with ample opportunities for hands-on activities. This mode should not be adopted where the infection risk level is high.
  • No child should be de-enrolled from schools for being unable to use any technology-based approach.
  • Special care should be taken to plan the access for children with special needs.
  • There should be no compromise in reaching out to the last child. Every child has to have an access to education.

D Shashikumar, one of the members of the expert committee and also general secretary, Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools, Karnataka, says, “The report highlights technology enabled education and beyond. We have also taken into consideration a larger section of society who do not have access to technology. It’s been issued in the best interest of a child and to ensure continuity in learning. The report is yet to be approved by the government.”

Read: Karnataka government permits online classes

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