By Ashish Kumar
Online ‘Teams’ are ‘Zoom’ing past academic challenges.
“We live through hopes because we are optimistic if we can’t make through one door, we will go through another door.” -Rabindra Nath Tagore Gunjan Bhasin, Headmistress at a Ranchi school, often motivates her school students and teachers nowadays using this quote. Along with hundreds of other educators, she has found this new door of online teaching as a ray of hope for students across the country, battling with their academics and exams’ uncertainty. The ongoing Corona lockdown scenario has left schools and students with no option but to continue classes through various digital platforms like Zoom, Teams, Skype, and Whatsapp Video calls.
Ruchi Saboo, Administrator of a school in Ranchi, thinks that academic fraternity nationwide is adapting to this new normal of TECH-ing it up all. “The online classes is something which is holding the strings together and keeping the flow and continuation of the studies,” says Ruchi. There’s a big push for online teaching from the Indian government to ensure that education doesn’t suffer during the lockdown. The govt recently announced a comprehensive initiative called PM-eVIDYA to unify all digital/online education efforts for providing multi-mode access to education. Online schooling is not based on the homeschooling model, but it is different. “This lockdown has pushed us towards a shift from syllabus based classes to knowledge-based interactive online sessions. MCQ pattern followed for the online exams,” says Priyanka Panwar, who teaches Sanskrit online using various online tools.
Meena Negi, a Social Science teacher with a Vasundhara School, believes that online schooling is not just about teaching and learning but also about diverting students’ attention and trying to distress them. Not only studies but classes for various other extra-curricular activities like dancing, yoga and physical education, music lessons, art, and craft, are being conducted online. Ajay Rawat, a Physical Education teacher with a leading private school in Central Delhi, who is nowadays making his students exercise online, has observed that his students have more time left to pursue their hobbies. For a few parents, the online classes are a blessing in disguise as it keeps their children occupied.
“Though online classes can’t replace schools, our children stay connected with their teachers and academics. It’s making both teachers and students tech-savvy also,” says Meerut-based Prakriti Chaudhary, mother of Class-4 student Sanskar. But not everyone is happy about online classes. Class-10 student, Atika Ahmed, often complains about her Maths online classes as she is unable to concentrate when complex Maths problems are not solved step-by-step, in the absence of a regular classroom blackboard.
English teacher, Hina Mukherjee, shares similar concerns, “Not all students can concentrate during an online class, a child should also have the capacity to attend classes at a stretch.” Parents of the students studying in Class 10th and 12th are also not happy with online classes, but their wards think otherwise. Radhika Kapoor, a Class-12 Science student, who often reminds her of her board exams, feels that even during the lockdown, online classes help students like her cope with the syllabus and stay focused due to regular interaction with teachers. Another cause of concern is how schools will prepare their students for the 10th and 12th board exams through online classes. Academicians are confident that online preparation is very much possible if students work hard along with teachers, but practicals may be the only hitch. S.P. Singh, Former CBSE Chief Examiner and Delhi Directorate of Education veteran, conveys Prittle Prattle News through a Press Release, “I suggest once a week visits by students for doing practicals in their school labs while exercising measures.”
Schools are planning that remaining academic calendars for the board classes will be utilized only for studies, and other inter-school activities/competitions may take a back seat. The latest news reports suggest that from July 15, 2020, proper classroom studies might resume in schools, though whether it will only be for higher classes needs to be confirmed. One can imagine a new school scenario post lockdown with teachers, students, and school staff wearing masks, and some covered in protective gear. Post lockdown, teachers have no qualms about revising a few already taught chapters for their students. Remember, this lockdown won’t last forever. What is needed is to bring down students’ anxiety levels first to feel confident about online studies till the time their schools re-open. Parents and teachers should continuously remind students that we do not give up whatever be the circumstances, and we are all in this together.