A school day from home
When the government shut schools and colleges across the country to prevent the highly contagious coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from spreading, many children had expected this preventive step would mean they will have less school work to do. Till their classroom moved online.Updated: Mar 23, 2020 16:10 IST
When the government shut schools and colleges across the country to prevent the highly contagious coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from spreading, many children had expected this preventive step would mean they will have less school work to do. Then, their classrooms moved online.
A large number of private schools have turned to platforms such as Skype and Zoom to resume teaching in classic whiteboard style, with homework assignments being given through portals such as Google Classroom.
Some schools, such as the one I go to, also require students to be in their uniform before they log into the virtual classroom.
These online classes are a new endeavour for teachers and students alike. There is a new excitement to learn, and teach.
This unique solution has been rather effective. Not surprisingly, there will always be challenges in adopting fresh and fascinating tools for learning.
Ms Anshul Fanda, a teacher of Class 11 and 12, says: “Online teaching tools have provided a platform to continue teaching and learning even in the current circumstances. Effective time management and the elimination of technological issues are key for a successful learning experience.”
A day of online classes can look vastly different than a day in school, such as for students of grade eleven, working towards overcoming a challenging high school syllabus.
Peering into my first class of the day, Spanish, I log in with 13 other students. We begin by taking attendance, which, in the case of online classes, has evolved past simply looking into the room and checking which students are present. Problems with the video and audio almost always plague at least one student in the group.
It is a learning curve for the teachers as well, as they start becoming comfortable taking online classes. It does take some getting used to; teaching students who you cannot see in person. However, as the days progress, these impediments do reduce steadily.
After taking attendance and ensuring everything runs smoothly, about an hour and half of class remains. Now the fun begins!
We complete the reading of a text with translations and a related worksheet and have to upload pictures of our work to a Dropbox. Once the classwork is submitted, the teacher discusses the work done and clarifies doubts that the students may have. Since a larger part of the work is done in a shorter period than usual, the students end up with far less homework for students. I count this as a great indicator of the effectiveness of online classes.
There is a break after the first class. The teachers encourage us to do some physical activity to maintain our health and fitness. Usually, students make a video call to their friends during this time, trying to get in the social interaction they miss by not being able to see each other in person. Schools offer more than just conventional education, offering us space to build our personalities and grow into responsible world citizens. The students evidently miss the interactions which foster these qualities in them. Online schools may provide a matched alternative for classroom teaching, however, it will never be able to nurture the minds outside the classroom and in the real world.
The second class of the day is Economics, where my teacher is discussing an internal assignment. The marks scored in this will have a 30% weightage in a student’s final grades. Ever curious, the students have a plethora of questions but everyone seems to be speaking at the same time. That does lead to some disruption, more because it is difficult to determine in what sequence the students should speak. Remember, they cannot raise their hands to indicate they have a question.
Even when using the chat box to type questions, it takes a while for the teacher to be able to get to each one of them. It can be a little more time consuming than what everyone is used to at the brick-and-mortar school. At times, the rambunctious nature of some students can make this process even longer. On the brighter side, this does often lend some levity to the class, as the amusing interactions between students bring a smile to everyone’s face.
In the session after lunch, the college counsellors often set up one-to-one sessions with students to speak about the impact of Covid-19 on the student’s college preparation, concerning standardized tests, college lists, applications and so on. College applications are a great concern for students and teachers during these times as colleges are in just as much disarray as schools.
It is true that during these times we are only able to hold two classes a day, albeit for a longer duration, as compared to the five classes we have at school. Nevertheless, as the entire learning community acclimatizes themselves to employing digital platforms, schools are transforming schedules to become increasingly productive.
In this digital age, it is clear that online lectures will prevail over Covid-19 and continue to provide students with an education, even if remotely. However, students and teachers will miss the social interaction and their school, the home away from home. Practising social distancing and taking precautionary measures will hopefully minimise the reach of this pandemic and allow us to get back to school as fast as possible.
(Author Aditi Someshwar is a student of Pathways School Gurgaon. Views expressed here are personal.)