The entire world is trying to take baby steps back to normalcy, after what seemed to be a period of unprecedented lockdown. However, the comeback will be in a phased manner, starting with the essential services, putting the public and private sector back into service with a limited workforce, and so on. We will slowly reclaim the busy and outgoing side of our lives. The education sector, in particular, will take more time to regain its previous normalcy. Or perhaps, this is the time we adapt to a new normal!
In March, when the entire world came to a standstill, uncertainty loomed over every walk of life. Most of the IT firms started drifting towards ‘Work from home’ culture, and educational institutions got shut down. K-12 industry educators, university lecturers, coaching institutes and private tutors, all of them, had one task. We had to undertake a sudden shift from physical classes (the traditional lecture method) to virtual classrooms.
The education sector has to go on, at least for the sake of the future of the students who are appearing for Grade 10 & 12th exams. Moreover, there are university exams, and competitive exams as well as continuing the primary or secondary level education. Else, there could be an entire academic year backlog. This paradigm shift to digital medium became a challenge to the teaching community as well as to the administrations of the institutions. Things have to be put into the right perspective to continue the learning process without any hiccup. Because utilising online platform is the only option since social distancing was supposed to be the keyword of the time.
Online methods and techniques have always been a part of the education at the global level but shifting the entire process to the virtual medium was still a challenge. To get the students at one place first, we needed accessible and easy-to-use online platforms. There are hundreds of video conferencing apps and websites available in the market currently.
Different institutions began looking for feasible options, from the available options that include Skype, Zoom, Microsoft, Google, and more. That was not the end to the hunt. The major challenge was to ensure that each student and teacher has access to equipment and technical know-how. Also, when teachers work from home and plan to take online classes, we have to ensure that we have sufficient backups of electricity, internet connection and such infrastructural resources.
From gaining confidence in technology to training ourselves to conduct online classes successfully, everything is a new experience. Most of the teachers during the period of lockdown, have been involved in organising or attending webinars, workshops and training sessions to ensure that they have all the tools that help the teaching-learning process. Well, putting things together, the world has concluded that the crisis is staying for a while. But the wheel of education must not stop. While many people have questioned the effectiveness of the virtual classes for the students and worrying about the screen time for everyone, believe me as a professional, I feel this could be the future. When everything else can work through technology in this world, why not academics?