Lockdown effect on education: Schools go online
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”
This saying holds true for many schools in India today. Till yesterday, they operated from their buildings, with both teachers and students being physically present. But given the lockdown and the uncertainty that surrounds the return of normalcy in our lives anytime soon, schools have decided to go online.
“We were not very sure how long the schools will remain closed. So, we started sending assignments along with short video clips to students so that they learn while having fun. But when lockdown happened and everything was shut, we decided to go online,” explains Guneet Ohri, Principal, Suncity School, Sec 37D, Gurugram
Most of the schools went online post lockdown; many because of demands from parents. But some institutions like Amity Schools ventured into the online domain in March itself. “We were beginning to feel things going to get difficult,” said Dr Anshu Arora, Principal, Amity International School, Gurugram, adding, “Initially, we thought of reserving 6-7 rooms as dedicated online teaching rooms equipped with high quality infrastructure required for online teaching. But things happened in such a haze that we could not even do that. The plan could not be implemented. Then teaching just happened with teachers sitting at home, working with their laptop or phones.” (READ ALSO: Six reasons why schools went online)
Schools have planned their time-table in such a manner that students do not feel overburdened by studies. There’re yoga, meditation, arts, music and even dance classes available online.
Is it easier to go online and teach?
Schools are investing a huge amount of money in training teachers for online classes. “Just like we are teaching students, we have conducted teacher training programmes online,” said Dr Arora.
Zoom, Microsoft teams or Google Hangouts are some of the online platforms being used by schools to communicate their lessons with their students.
“It is just like any other school day. Our classes begin from 8.30 in the morning and go on till 1 pm for senior students. For juniors, we have 1-2 hours of classes only,” explains Anju Gupta, Headmistress, Ahlcon International School, Delhi. The day begins with prayers, followed by exercises to warm up students and then the regular classes. Almost all schools have planned their time-table in such a manner that students do not feel overburdened by studies. There’re yoga, meditation, arts, music and even dance classes available online. Schools are going extra mile in ensuring that assignments are easy and interesting and students do not need parental help to complete them. And then there are also offs on declared holidays like Mahavir Jayanti, etc.
That’s not all!
Since the lockdown happened much before the new academic session had begun, students don’t have books. Thus, schools are providing the study material in the form of pdf.
From live classes to recorded ones, WhatsApp recorded messages to songs and storytelling sessions, teachers are trying every method to ensure that no child is left out. “We have to be flexible. What to do,” said Ohri.
“It’s not easy for teachers. They also have to do household work, have young children to look after, and have no maids to help them out.”
What kind of challenges are schools facing?
“It’s not easy for teachers. They also have to do household work, have young children to look after and have no maids to help them out. The current crisis is shocking for us too,” said Dr Priti Ojha, Principal, Delhi International School, Sector 23, Dwarka. (READ ALSO: Seven challenges that schools faced while going online)
Besides the technical challenges, teachers also find it difficult to explain to their family their new job requirements. While the usual day at school used to end by 2.30 pm for teachers, online classes last almost the whole day as they are followed by review meetings, report preparation, lesson planning, strategizing/preparation for the next day.
And then there are teachers who are not comfortable being on camera. “Initially, teachers felt like they were speaking to a wall. Over time, all of them have found their strength. We all are learning,” said Dr Ojha.
Advantages of Online Teaching
Upasana Kinra, Counsellor, DPS International School, Saket, feels that online schools are a boon to mankind in the present times, “It is a good way to save the environment. I would suggest that schools should continue taking online classes, once or twice a week, even when things become normal. This way, we will be able to contribute in reducing pollution in future.”
She adds, “Teachers who were earlier afraid of technology, are now embracing it. And in the process, discovering rich resources which are available online.”
The online classes seem to be a win-win for all – parents are happy that their wards are studying and not wasting time; students are getting back into school routine; and schools and teachers are getting ready for the future.