Covid Impact: Online teaching is the only solution

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Dr Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal

With a few exceptions where the faculty or the students do not have adequate internet access the theory part of all the courses have been covered to our maximum satisfaction says Dr Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal, Vice Chancellor, Eternal University, Himachal Pradesh in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Most of the faculty, staff and students of the Eternal University from 19 states of India had gone home during mid-semester Holi vacations for a week from March 8-15, 2020 and could not return and join the University due to closure of all the educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh from March 16-31, 2020. We had extended our Even semester of the Academic Session for fifteen days till 30th June, 2020 by reducing the summer vacation accordingly. All the postgraduate and Ph. D. students staying behind at our residential campus were allowed to stay in the hostels as per the notification of the Himachal Pradesh Government. As you are aware that the educational institutions have still not been opened in the country due to series of lockdowns from March 22 onwards till to date and are still likely to remain closed for longer time. Keeping in view the last and crucial semester of our nearly one-third students, like any other HEI in the country, we directed all our faculty and IT staff to find the ways and means of teaching the students online all the courses of all the colleges as per the academic calendar of the university with effect from April 1, 2020 and were asked to submit their weekly progress reports.

With a few exceptions where the faculty or the students do not have adequate internet access the theory part of all the courses have been covered to our maximum satisfaction. In fact the COVID-19 has proved as a blessing in disguise as the faculty and students highly reluctant to online learning and teaching of MOOCs, SWAYAM, NPTEL portals resorted to the use of Zoom, WhatsApp, Learnea, EULearning portal and email etc. from home. It has, however, been not possible to teach the practical parts or laboratory courses online due to the lack of expertise, practical videos and virtual laboratories but the same will be dealt with as soon as the universities open and the faculty and students come to the campus before the declaration of the results. We have also conducted the mid-term examination of all the theory courses online using a very safe and secure software for the same developed by our own staff.

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Also read: Home schooling in Covid-19 times: Dr. Sangeeta Srivastava

Being a residential campus Baru Sahib, a single entry with thermal monitor has been maintained since the lockdowns with very strict quarantine facility in the 200 beds Akal Charitable Hospital. Some very crucial field and laboratory works by faculty and research scholars at the campus have been taken by strictly following the safety guidelines and social distancing. All the faculty and students have been advised to use Aarogya Setu apps for monitoring and avoiding their contact with any potential Coronavirus affected person. Wish the lockdowns should have been planned well and launched very carefully with advanced notices without affecting the teaching and examination work in the nation. It will be better to open the educational institutions at the earliest without any loss or delay of the academic year and admission for the next session. Nearly one-third of the final year students of all the HEIs in the country must get their degrees by July end by completing all the requirements which can never be done online and hence the HEIs must open within June. I am very happy to share the good news that due to the commitment and efforts of all the stakeholders not a single case of COVID-19 has occurred among the families of our faculty, staff and students.

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