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Dr. Jayashree Nair, Deputy Head- Academics, Futuristic Edu Initiatives, Hyderabad: Need to explore online teaching more

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Dr. Jayashree Nair

With the outburst of Coronavirus being declared a pandemic by the WHO, people all over the world are facing a major threat. An unexpected emergency that has significantly affected not just our lives, but it is also a test to our ability to adapt and be resilient.

Given this state of emergency we must retort with different ways of working, communicating, shopping and learning. Not that we are new to Online shopping or Social networking, nor is distance learning.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 revives the need to explore online teaching and learning opportunities.

The closure of educational institutions has brought much-needed relief in a depressing health emergency, but has left students, teachers and families in a unexplored turf. And the thought dawns as to what would be the adequate time to `flatten the curve` and level out the Virus impact. Obviously, once the novelty of being liberated from school is worn off, the pressure to patch the program with support for students was to start off.

So educators across the CBSE schools under the Futuristic Edu Intiatives umbrella were guided to switch to virtual learning methods via video-enhanced teaching programs. It was all in-accordance with our academic schedule and our new academic session planned from mid March till mid April for which the grade wise and subject wise syllabus was planned to complete.

In response to the quarantine, our students attended e lectures at home ,and took home assignments. While maintaining Social distancing , reading links ,physical exercises and other creative activities were shared with them to value family bonding using communication tools like Google Hangout Meet and Zoom.

The global COVID-19 pandemic was more like the insight of the wildest dream of a vendor of technology-driven “disruptive innovation.” ELETS itself acted as a platform and several thoughts on Digital Education by educationists across the country were shared. Infact I have also many times got the opportunity to share views and practices on many contemprerory topics for making schools future ready including Online Education .But we were always using and talking about Blended learning –in class cum e-learning and not Online Learning.

To simply swap a traditional textbook content for digital material cannot be called as Online Learning. It is far more complex and the transitioning would take time , can`t happen overnight and requires more evaluation on the suitability in School Education.

Nonetheless, online teaching requires careful thinking about how learners and teachers are equipped for the shift and serious consideration about whether the teaching style is still effective when taken from the classroom and transposed to technological devices.

Moreover, inequalities intensify when it comes to access of technology and to digital devices. Many learners suffer a form of digital inequality whereby they lack the connections and devices to learn remotely.

In fact, this outbreak widens the gap between those able to access digital learning opportunities and those who are shut out.

Although, the immediate focus is now on technology and tools, the most compelling quality is still human compassion. Yet it does not necessarily have to mean suspending all teacher-guided instruction and learning.

Similarly, concept revision happened via Zoom Classes in our Cambridge Schools and our students have taken the home based Open Book Assessments A new learning for all educators ,a new beginning for students as technology becomes the only preferred option following a draining experience of Lockdown for not just a nation but a threat of virus for the universe.

Hence the education sector is responding to quarantine with a sudden shift to online learning which also came with the challenges of availability and connectivity. While students and families will also soon be looking for more precise plans to ensure the continuity of learning , we at Futuristic Edu Initiatives are equipping ourselves with digital LMS and better communication tools to train our educators for their professional development via Online Classes while they are all on a early summer break.

A great nation like India with a populous of 130 crores is today much safe because of the preventive action initiated by the government. Highly commendable and laudable are the steps initiated in saving the lives.

So we stand with the nation by quarantining ourselves yet not quarantining the learning process using technology as an opportunity, else technology was mostly used in the ERP processes and making classrooms smart.

Every beginning marks with an ending and so will the Virus.

Each ending paves way for a new beginning and so will Online Learning.

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