The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown since March 25 has impacted lives across the board. While balancing work and home has not been easy, the lockdown has also been a time of immense new learnings for India’s educators.
Following the mass closure of educational institutions since March end and postponement/cancellation of school and college exams, teachers have been ensuring continuity of teaching-learning through virtual classes using the latest online digital technologies. They have been spending a good part of their days organising online content, conducting classes and ensuring distribution of coursework.
For Lina Ashar, founder, Kangaroo Kids Education Limited the lockdown meant work as usual with only change being in the location. “I made sure I used my time effectively during my work-from-home period. After some meditation in the mornings, I spent long hours at work coordinating with my curriculum team to review and approve worksheets, ideating on making learning fun for our kids, monitoring the online sessions and tracking the feedback from parents and students.”
From learning new skills and methodologies to curating engaging online content and empowering students to take ownership of their learning, teachers of the Mumbai-based St Stanislaus High School had a lot to catch up on says the school’s principal, Anna Correa.
“Following the state board curriculum, our school had already completed the current year’s academic syllabus when the lockdown was announced. However, the final examinations had to be cancelled abruptly. Since then, our teachers have continued to be busy prepping up to learn all aspects of online teaching,” adds Correa.
While educators agree virtual classes cannot replicate the classroom experience, the indispensability of online teaching-learning during the lockdown has unleashed their creativity.
“Irrespective of how tech-savvy a school is, the lockdown has forced educators to think out-of-the-box. While limiting screen time for children was the issue earlier, we now want to make all screen-time more effective. Educators have learnt about successfully engaging children online on a long-term basis. Parents too will play an important role in ensuring the success of virtual classrooms,” says Raghav Podar, chairman, Podar Education.
The lockdown has also tested the leadership capabilities of stakeholders in the education sector. Sanjay Gupta, global CEO of ed-tech company EnglishHelper that creates affordable technology-enabled literacy and education solutions, believes this leadership of conviction to do one’s best while recognising the needs of others will help to take education to those who have remained out of its ambit so far.
“Obtaining education is a fundamental right of all citizens. While the affluent have used technology to ensure uninterrupted learning during the current crisis, this opportunity has not as yet reached the poorest. If Facebook and Google can reach everybody why should virtual classes not reach students in a government school? This crisis presents a strong case for the democratisation of education leveraging technology,” he says.
While the lockdown brings its fair share of learning for educators, it has not been ‘all work and no play’. Making the best use of their time, educators have been honing old skills or learning new ones. Raghav Podar not only enjoys preparing culinary feasts for his family but also manages to find time to play music on the family piano – a luxury he missed due to hectic work schedule in the pre-lockdown days. Sanjay Gupta is attempting to play fifty party songs on his daughter’s guitar besides getting back to reading the many unread books on his bookshelves. Lina Ashar simply chooses to “reframe my mind and view this lockdown as an opportunity rather than a time where I am locked in the house.”National, News