Anjali Kotnala – Digital learning is far more interactive than voluminous textbooks or one-sided lectures

Digital learning is far more interactive than voluminous textbooks or one-sided lectures

opines Mrs. Anjali Kotnala, Principal, Rukmini Devi Public School, (Pitampura) Delhi

What is the biggest professional challenge that you face in your role as a principal?

Considering the current scenario, I believe that all Principals are facing challenges each day for improving students’ achievement and enrichment of their skills with the integration of technology. The way the education system has transitioned from traditional to digitalized approach of teaching & learning, I advocate the requirement of discipline; and find it challenging to maintain the class decorum during the online classes keeping in mind the significance and implementation of Cyber Laws for Cyber safety for the students and teachers. Moreover, I aim at creating future-ready classrooms for the students so that they can embrace the new changes and challenges of the learning process.

As you already know, National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been approved and is expected to be implemented shortly. Your comments?

With the advent of New Education Policy 2020, I strongly believe that it will boost multidisciplinary education which is more aligned with the global education system, and the process will continue even in higher education with all institutes set to become multidisciplinary. It is promising to witness the inclusion of a play-based multi-faceted curriculum and focus given to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as it brings to light the importance of early learning. In my opinion, highlighting primary education in mother tongue and the introduction of Sanskrit within the three-language formula, will turn out to be a great bonus to the people of the country especially in the rural areas. The restructured 5+3+3+4 will epitomize as a turning point for enriching the skills of each child during schooling which will consequently increase the stature of skill-based education and increase employability of the youth. Moreover, the revised grading system is the need of the hour to ensure fair and accurate analysis of students’ potential which to some extent signals the end of rote learning. The assessments based on application of core concepts & skills from grade 6 onwards will, by default, enable every child to have at least one skill at the end of school education.

The ‘unlock’ has happened in the entire country. It is only a matter of time when schools would also open in the near future officially. But it would be a real challenge for the schools to generate trust and faith amongst the parents to send their wards to school. How do you plan to handle this?

To aid the students get back into the rhythm of learning, I personally believe that along with keeping the safety of the students in mind, all the schools shall also plan for well thought-out activities and interactions with children, ideally in small groups, to let them express their pent up emotions and feelings. The infrastructure will require a minute sanitization for obvious reasons and the same shall be apprised to the parents too so that they receive a sigh of relief. However, the teaching staff shall also be sensitized and equipped to primarily focus at healing the emotional imbalance that might have been faced by the students personally. They may have experienced the illness or death of a family member and the lurking fear of the pandemic must have had a significant impact. It is important to address the crisis and children’s experiences directly through conversations and presentations, but even more importantly, indirectly through artistic and creative expression which is known to be very effective in addressing deeper anxieties. The display of students’ paintings, posters, stories, and other artwork will serve as a source of motivation and appreciation for the students who will be engaged in making the school environment more child-friendly. Once the healing process gathers momentum, the teachers will be guided to organize accelerated learning classes to aid the students adapt to the grade-specific curriculum.

The ongoing pandemic has shifted the traditional classrooms to rectangular screens. All of us are digitally connected now, wherein the classroom protocols can easily be averted. What is the better medium according to you, the digital one or the traditional one we have had for so many years?

Undoubtedly, online learning has caught up and even outshined traditional learning on many metrics but with so many factors to consider, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Taking living situation, learning style, and career goals into consideration, we can reach a conclusion of being able to declare one of the teaching methodologies as the best one. However, with reference to the fixed schedules in the traditional way of teaching, the benefitting favour consequently is reflected by the Online learning which breaks the rigidity of the traditional classrooms. I personally believe that digital learning is far more interactive than voluminous textbooks or one-sided lectures, provides better context, a greater sense of perspective, and more engaging activities than traditional education methods. This allows students to better connect with the learning material.Thoughonline learning is inherently flexible, it lacks the medium of interaction amongst the learners which is provided in the traditional way of teaching-learning process. To conclude, I would like to mention that both online and traditional way of learning should be amalgamated to give the access of the relevant sources of knowledge and conceptual learning to the students and enrich their skills conscientiously.

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. How are your teachers overcoming such challenges? Did you arrange for some special training for them?

Considering the peak of challenges faced by the teaching faculty of my school, I ensured that they were well-resourced with all the required and relevant sources of information which will not only cater to the educational needs of the students but also provide a technical support to my teaching staff abundantly. In-house workshops, webinars and discussions were regularly conducted to apprise and guide the teaching faculty regarding the technological change in the education system. Moreover, during online classes, the teachers were also provided all the technical support to resolve any technical glitches being faced by them. This actually aided in conducting the online classes fruitfully without any unpredictable halt.

What role does education play in a country like ours?

Developed countries always maintain a suitable track of education in today’s global age. India, as a matter of fact, has been rapidly changing and advocating the inclusive, high-quality education for its future prosperity. Being mindful about the education and its implementation, India has always focused on improving the literacy rate and promote Primary and Higher Education via many relevant and useful educational policies. Though there have been several elements breathing in the Indian society which occasionally bring a halt to the entire development process and thereby harm and affect the Indian society. Considering the fact that Education plays a monumental role in the social as well as economical development of any country, emphasis is now given to the pragmatic and professional approach, which will epitomize as a backbone to the nation and also aid in eradicating many social evils like, child labour, unemployment, poverty etc.

What would be your advice to students on the formula for success in studies and in most aspects of life?

I truly advocate that believing in ourselves is the key to success as it not only propagates confidence to face the challenges valiantly but also aids in achieving triumph.  As a learner, one should always channelize the approach of being organized and punctual to ascend towards the peak of excellence. In my opinion, an organized time-table, self-made notes, relevant and informative collection of references and resources, regular pattern of self-study and concentration are the key elements for academic success.

Tell us about your leisure activities and how you spend time with family and friends?

I have been in this industry since many years. I’m lucky to have a supportive family, whose encouragement helped me to face challenges. After work it’s time for family. Together we spend quality time, chat, discuss about our good and bad moments of the day which charges us for the next day. As friends we stay connected and meet once in a month over lunch, high tea, and are there for each other in good and bad times.