Getting better at online teaching & learning: Transforming education in a pandemic

July 14, 2021 3:25 PM

In 2021, the education sector has learned from the experience of the previous year and is applying the lessons to optimize online learning outcomes.

Online education was the chosen recourse but students and parents had a lot of apprehensions about it.

By Dr Jitendra Kumar Mishra,

Necessity, it is rightly said, is the mother of invention. To this, one might add that it is also the progenitor of innovation. The necessity of online education caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has now inspired educators to innovate, streamline, improvise and refine the online teaching and learning experience as we move ahead into the new academic year.

At the outset, it has to be admitted that the sudden and unexpected closure of educational institutions in 2020 as a result of the lockdown took everyone by surprise. No one was prepared for this once-in-a-century pandemic. Understandably, there was panic and the pressure of continuing the teaching-learning process to complete the academic session.

Online education was the chosen recourse but students and parents had a lot of apprehensions about it. Some even resisted it. Teachers, being used to delivering instruction in classrooms, had to switch to online teaching and maintain the pedagogical standards at the same time. The issues of the digital divide, technological glitches and learning gaps cropped up. Even the regulators were left exploring the ways of conducting exams with due diligence so that results could be declared on time.

But there is a universal fact about all good teachers – they are good learners as well.

In 2021, the education sector has learned from the experience of the previous year and is applying the lessons to optimize online learning outcomes. This transformation of education in the pandemic is taking place on multiple fronts.

Better IT Infrastructure

Over time, institutions have created the necessary IT infrastructure to facilitate smooth and seamless teaching and learning online. Both teachers and students have become so adept in using digital platforms and tools that apart from lessons, even other complementary activities such as quizzes, debates, contests and exams are being conducted online.

Addressing the Learning Gaps

One drawback of online education was the possibility of learning gaps among students who are not digitally well connected or tech savvy. These learning gaps are now being addressed by teachers through customized, student-centric asynchronous lessons.

Making Online Education Interactive and Interesting

To ensure continuous student engagement, teachers are making online learning more interactive and interesting through synchronous lessons that involve the simultaneous participation of the whole class. Students get to interact not just with teachers but among themselves as well to share their ideas and opinions.

Uptick in Teacher Training

There has been a substantial uptick in teacher training over the last one year. Faculty and staff have undergone the necessary training for greater teaching competency in the online mode.

Conducting Online Exams and Assessments

Educational institutions are better equipped to conduct exams online as are students better prepared to take the online tests. Digital tools and software are now used to assess students’ academic progress and find out the academic areas where students lag behind.

Social-Emotional Learning

Institutions are going out of their way to ensure that social-emotional learning of students is not hampered due to online learning. Annual events, festivals, webinars, conferences, and pre-orientation programmes are being conducted online to enrich the e-learning experience.

Above all, there is growing evidence that online learning is a good substitute – though not a replacement – for in-person classroom teaching. The institutions have now addressed the apprehensions of students and parents. Even the process of online examination and result declaration has been thoroughly tested. As a result, in 2021, the education sector is much better placed to rise to the challenge of delivering online education so that learning can continue to ignite and enlighten young minds.

(The author is Director, Jaipuria School of Business, Ghaziabad. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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