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We are not an alternative school.
We are the alternative to schooling.

Online learning: Surfing the wave of possibilities

SG

Shishir Ghosh

May 19, 2020

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The coronavirus has drastically altered circumstances for young students and educators everywhere and has forced them to adapt instantly to the new way of learning. Experts anticipate that the effects of this pandemic will extend farther into the future than expected, urging schools to find alternatives to traditional classroom learning to ensure the safety of students. The most successful and obvious choice thus far, has been online learning. As we have seen, internet penetration has been one of the greatest success stories of our times, with over 4.3 billion users worldwide under its spell. While it is no stranger to our industry, we have never experienced online learning as the sole medium, but rather as a supplement to its traditional counterpart. However, it is only now we can truly realize its true potential as an intermediary between teacher and student in the commercial educational system.

On this edition of Out of the Box with Beyond 8, we sat down with Mr. Easwaran K.V., an experienced facilitator at Headstart Learning Centre to get his perspective on how the new wave of online learning will bode for the education industry and how best we can make it work.

Active cooperation

Learners unknowingly exhibit various cues, through body language and inflections in their speaking voices, that allow the teachers to adapt and shift gears in their teaching methods. When there is a significant lack of direct, face-to-face interaction with students, as in a conventional classroom setting, it becomes a challenge to gauge the effectiveness of the online lesson, says Mr. Easwaran. This means that the overall success of online learning depends on students and teachers sharing the responsibility of staying alert, participating in discussions, and keeping up with schedules. Most video-calling applications include a ‘live’ feature, that will effectively allow learners to clarify doubts, ask questions or summarize the concepts being taught. While this may sound difficult, Mr. Easwaran suggests that it can be pulled off when we take care of the nuts and bolts of participating in an online classroom. He suggests learners choose a convenient spot that will:

  • Receive a reasonable magnitude of internet bandwidth so video lectures may proceed without impedance.
  • Be free of momentary distractions that may include, but are not limited to, the presence of unwanted sounds from the television or siblings playing.

In a nutshell, learners’ active participation will go a long way in making the online lecture fruitful for themselves.

Building connections through the web

One thing is clear: online learning can never have the same impact of traditional schooling when it comes to socializing and thriving on human relationships. However, since the pandemic has thrown us a curveball, it is evident that online learning will be a major part of a school education in the future, and we will have to live with it. Mr. Easwaran believes that online learning need not be as dry as it is typically described to be, if the facilitator finds a balance of friendly and firm, as he does when teaching online. This will foster a sense of familiarity, as students embrace a light-hearted atmosphere that is conducive to social, vocational, and intellectual growth. He never begins his lecture immediately after coming online, but rather takes time to get to know how the students are holding up during quarantine. This will act as a virtual icebreaker, and will help students settle in for the academic session.

Creativity while teaching

When it comes to sustaining online learning over the long term, creativity will be the name of the game. Mr. Easwaran advises facilitators to be on their toes and keep developing new and innovative methods of online teaching that would stimulate learners and inspire them to engage fully, each time. Even a simple whiteboard can be beneficial, as he believes that the learner’s mind is intuitively selective with its learning strategies, and that transcription trumps verbal communication when it comes to listening and accumulating concepts. He uses Powerpoint presentations, audio visuals, and cites textbook sources on the web to instil a sense of purpose in the students, so they are automatically encouraged to browse the web, research topics, and even sometimes prepare material ahead of class.

It is a fact that not all learners in India have the advantage of owning the IT infrastructure needed to be part of a live online classroom. The digital divide between us is glaring, more so during the pandemic. Like Mr. Easwaran suggests, online learning can work for them if they are recorded in high quality and sent as files via their phones. As conscious social citizens, it is important to not let our fellow learners fall on the wayside, but to take them along with us on this journey. Please watch the entire video here:

Join us on Friday, May 22nd, 2020 for the next episode of Out of the Box with Beyond 8 where we will be in conversation with Akanksha Thakore on how to keep your Ikigai alive during the pandemic on our Facebook page .



About Out of the Box with Beyond 8

Be it the way we learn or teach, there are always better ways to do it and often they lie out of the box, on the paths less taken. Out of the Box with Beyond 8 is an initiative that encourages the education fraternity to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.

We are not an alternative school.
We are the alternative to schooling.

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