Skill development professionals see the need to go online to connect with clients

Illustration: Sreejith Ravikumar  

As an outcome of efforts to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, various independent professionals are cut off from their clients. In some fields, this chasm between the professional and the client can be bridged, but efforts to do so bring forth varying results.

It is particularly true in the area of skill training. When it comes to holding a live classroom teaching, there isn’t usually much of a challenge to be met.

Every afternoon, Neha Sharma’s home in Bengaluru turns into a classroom. While Neha logs on to a virtual and widely distributed classroom to teach economics to a small crop of students, her nine-year-old daughter joins Zoom for English and Mathematics classes arranged by her school to complete the syllabus, the measure necessitated due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Neha is a visiting faculty of economics with a B-School who also takes online classes. Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak, she has received requests from a few other students to teach them, and Neha should not find it a challenge to meet these fresh requests.

“Recently, I had a request from a few students who wanted five modules of economics to be completed in one week's time,” says Neha. She says that tutors online just have to focus on having good content, and ensuring interactivity with their students — interactivity can be achieved with a reasonable degree of success on most platforms.

While most professionals in the field of skill training can shift their work online, those engaged in creative arts have to ford certain inherent challenges. For a dance instructor, for example, there has to be greater “visuality” to the instructions that are being given, and in many cases, “online dance halls” can’t accommodate this need.

Sisters Abhinaya Shree and Aanandhavalli R.S. started offering live online Bharatanatyam classes for the first time last week, in part to connect with existing students, and in part to capitalise on the growing demand for online classes. Similarly, yoga instructor Shraddha Iyer shifted her classes online. From three classes a day, she now does only one, which gives her sufficient time to fine-tune the methods she has adopted to teach Yoga to a virtual classroom.

Both the Bharatanatyam duo and the yoga instructor are however less than happy about how they can present their craft through these online classrooms.

Though this medium has helped them continue their work without a break, they miss the vibrancy of in-person classes. While teaching something like dance, the exercise is made meaningful by the interaction between teacher and student.

Online classes come with its challenges, one of which is ironically from technology — low bandwidth on the trainee’s side, and this can be an irritant when someone is trying to teach a skill that comes with a lot dynamism attached to it.

“I cannot see the person from head to toe, so it becomes difficult to correct their posture,” says Abhinaya.

Shraddha agrees. “Unlike in a studio set-up, I teach slowly when I teach online. Keeping it interactive is a challenge,” says Shraddha, a trainer with Sarva/Diva Yoga.

Andrea Jacob, a movement therapist, says that virtual instruction rooms are at best a compromise, where the trainer-trainee dynamics don’t unfold in their entirety.

Andrea explains: “Sometime ago, I did a webcast for pregnant women. Through 40 minutes, which was pretty much the time the webcast lasted, I could only present what I had to offer them, and only after that could I take answers from them. In contrast, a similar training in a face-to-face setting would have been response-driven from the beginning as my demonstration and instruction would have been shaped continually by instant responses from the participants.”

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:40:21 AM |

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