“Blended mode of teaching and learning is going to stay”

Says Dr. Sanjay Kumar Mallick, educationist, in conversation with Varsha Verma of All About Book Publishing.

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During the first week of March 2020, in the National Capital of India- New Delhi, schools were closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the possibility of the spread of COVID-19 amongst school children. Its more than a year, COVID-19 the pandemic has impacted the lives of people around the world. Transportation, traveling, ways of doing business and, new rules on public gatherings have changed the daily routines of millions across the globe.

Here, Dr. Sanjay Kumar Mallick, shares more about the best practices followed in schools during this time.

AABP: What are the best practices adopted by schools worldwide?

Dr. Sanjay: The schools worldwide and in India, including ours, who sensed that lockdown is going to be long before we open our school for normal and formal teaching in the traditional classroom setup, need to do something different. Every progressive school worldwide switched over to the online mode of teaching. The schools used the online platform which provided the possibilities of interacting with the students in a better way particularly, till the high schools. There was a major change in the teaching-learning approach. It has become important to keep the young minds engaged and learning must become a joy rather than a rigorous academic knowledge transfer. The contents are being changed to digital content, multimedia content so that students find it interesting. The assessment principles are changed to know the understanding of the subject matters rather than the rote learning of the textbooks. Assessments were conducted using tools like google forms, videos assessments, etc.

AABP: How are Indian schools faring vis-a-vis international standards?

Dr. Sanjay: Schools across cities and towns fared well in conducting online classes and that is matchable with international standards. But we have struggled in rural areas due to a lack of digital infrastructures. Schools in rural areas have internet connectivity issues and, every student and teacher are not having smartphones, computer systems, or laptops. They are using different broadcasting systems to transfer knowledge like a cable TV network, dedicated educational TV channels, and a radio system. Schools can reach out to the students but the assessment of learning remains a challenge during the pandemic.

AABP: What best practices have you adopted in your school?

Dr. Sanjay: In the first week of April 2020, we at our school strongly felt that children cannot be left at home without guidance and significant learning during this lockdown. Discontinuity in education and learning can deeply impact students’ life. The very thought of this made us think to look for alternate ways and means, knowing that remote learning cannot create the same effect as in the school environment. But now it is becoming a necessity for the best interest of schools, teachers, students, and parents. In this time, itself we did-

  • Created the WhatsApp group class-wise.
  • Provided continuous training and supports to the teachers about how to use the zoom platform for teaching.
  • Conducted classes, PTMs, organized events through the zoom platform.
  • Arranged financial supports from school management, loan from the bank for the purchase of devices for teachers.
  • Conducted periodic tests, half yearly and annual exams using google form.
  • Parents were groomed for the support to conduct examinations. Parents responded to our appeal whole heartedly and we were very successful in carrying out assessments.

AABP: What are the areas of improvement?

Dr. Sanjay: There are many areas where we can bring lots of improvement. The contents of the course can be modified, teaching patterns can be changed to attract students to online classes. We should remember that online teaching is different from conventional teaching in classrooms. The mindset of the teacher has to be different while teaching online. We cannot expect our students to behave the same way as in a classroom setup. We need to take care of student’s emotional issues more than ever in these situations. Teachers need more support from management and leaders to deliver the best to the students and training for teachers as per the need should be a top priority.

AABP: What were the challenges during pandemic?

Dr. Sanjay: Although initially, everyone faced challenges, quickly teachers and students adapted to the new normal. Teachers worked hard to meet the challenges at their time. Every student and parent is eagerly waiting for schools to open so that they can feel the normalcy and true education can happen in the real setup of schools and colleges.

AABP: How will things change after the pandemic?

Dr. Sanjay: Definitely, the pandemic has given the opportunities for the teaching fraternity to learn the new technologies which can be used effectively in imparting knowledge and skills to the students. Now the blended mode of teaching and learning is going to stay in our society. This is going to help to reduce the cost of education, time-saving and continuation of education even during political bandhs, and other disturbance which forces school to close on a particular day. Teachers are now more competent for the future’s tech lead teaching and learning. During the pandemic, one more thing that flourished is the teacher’s training through webinars. It brought people closer to share their expertise and knowledge.

AABP: What lessons have we learnt from the pandemic?

Dr. Sanjay: We have learned a great lesson – “We don’t grow when things are easy and we are in a comfortable state, we grow when we face challenges.”

The second lesson we learned that – “Parental supports are a must for smooth teaching-learning processes.”

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