Virtual learning is a good substitute but it can never replace the classroom
Opines Daljeet Singh Rana, Principal, CT Public School, Jalandhar
The ongoing pandemic has shifted the traditional classrooms to rectangular screens. All of us are digitally connected wherein the classroom protocols can easily be averted. What is the better platform according to you, the digital one or the traditional one we have had for so many years?
Virtual learning is being adopted these days due to the shutdown of schools and institutions. It is beneficial to an extent because it does not require waking up early, there is no fear of getting scolded and one can study in a comfortable manner. Virtual learning offers a good substitute to classroom learning in the time of emergency but it cannot replace the classroom. Classroom learning still remains the best option and is a better mode of imparting education and knowledge. Also discipline is better ingrained in a classroom setup.
Socialisation and building manners and ethics are few vital steps that students learn in school. Can a virtual platform teach them the same ethics and social etiquettes?
There are four basic learning needs that form the basis of all major educational theories ranging from behaviourism to social cognitivism to constructivism. These are Arousal, Competence, Self-determination and Relatedness.
Through gamification and technology, a teacher can successfully meet most of these needs in an online class. Technology is a huge enabler, as it can be used to customise learning to learners’ level, interest, academic and social needs. Rich texts, images, videos, audios, and games bring fun, excitement, collaboration, and challenge to learning. They can be taught social etiquette and the ethics through them.
Our educators are under huge stress since the beginning of the pandemic; from coping with internet connections and erratic power supply to more structural issues like curriculum designing and teaching techniques. What is the feedback of CT Public School’s teachers? Did you arrange any special training for them?
Switching over to the online mode of teaching was a huge challenge for our teachers. Nevertheless, they have managed to imbibe a number of hard and soft skills to be able to do it successfully to date. Moreover, regular observation of their classes and constructive and timely feedback have also helped them improve their skills.
The teachers have devoted their undivided attention to creatively design the online learning programs and delivered their best.
Besides this, amidst the rush of hosting online classes, the best teaching practices such as video lectures, experiential learning styles and webinars have been provided to the learners.
In this new kind of one-way teaching how are they managing and monitoring student’s active involvement?
Digital classes are managed through App management systems. Regular feedback from parents’ plays a major role. A collective effort of teachers, students and parents is important to ensure that students’ education is not affected by the pandemic. Positive and meaningful feedback also gives the students an extra motivation and encouragement boost that can change their perception from negative to positive. It helps the students to get better and reach a new high.
Many Edutech companies are mushrooming in the education sector. All of them are claiming better learning outcomes. Are you using any such platforms? If yes, why do you think they are better than others?
A teacher can host their asynchronous assignments on collaborative platforms such as Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, MS Teams, Slide Share, Minecraft, Kahoot, Mural, Voice Thread, Edmodo, Skype etc. for learners to collaborate, discuss, listen to others, reflect, assess peers and make it an immersive learning experience.
What is the future you want for your school?
Knowledge, skills and expertise are the key enablers for maintaining our economic growth momentum. The challenge is quality training of teachers by supporting them with modern teaching aids, tools and methodologies — like smart classrooms and digital course content. Extra-curricular activities are also a key component in sustaining a youngster’s interest at school. School should have requisite sporting facilities and avenues for cultural events, all of which together contribute to building a student’s life skills and personality.
What are the key challenges that you go through as a leader and how do you overcome it?
When you compare online teaching with classroom teaching, you realize the major challenges are— lack of human connect, absence of collaborative learning, teacher supervision and the most glaring being, lack of hands-on learning in complex subjects such as science and mathematics. However, using the correct pedagogy and innovative digital tools like a virtual classroom, it is possible to overcome these challenges to a large extent.
Education system has reformed a lot. Do you agree with it?
Yes, I truly agree to the statement. Education reform means that lesson be taught from a completely different perspective. Progressive educational practices focus more on the individual student’s needs rather than assuming all students at the same level of understanding. The modern way of teaching is more activity based, using questioning, explaining, demonstration and collaboration techniques. The traditional techniques used repetition and memorisation of information to educate students. It meant not developing their critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills. Modern learning encourages students to collaborate and, therefore, be more productive. Having said that, traditional and modern teaching methods are both effective and useful in their own way.
Any message that you would like to share with the publishers or independent App providers?
The App or the content that the Edutech companies develop must function flawlessly. They should be easily navigable, simple to operate and not over congested with information. They should present factually correct information. Students and teachers should be able to easily find any information they are looking for.
For publishers, I would like to add that books should not be content heavy and materials should be ideal for flip learning process. Content should ideally cover what is prescribed in the syllabus. It is the teachers duty to cover more, if required, to the more devoted ones.