Andhra Pradesh

Class in the room

Schools, colleges and universities are shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic spurring instructors to move their classes online.

After realising that the virus will run its course longer than anybody could think of, the Education Department wasted no time in roping in digital partners to teach children in online mode and also to train teachers and other faculty in the nuances of operating in the cyberspace.

The SSC exam being the biggest challenge faced by the department, a quick survey conducted to see if the online mode suits all the pupils revealed that a large number of students (60-70%) do not have access to a smart phone in the government-run schools. The AP Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (APSWREIS), in an understanding with the public broadcaster Doordarshan’s Saptagiri TV channel, started telecasting videos of teachers explaining the lessons, for two hours daily from April 8 for SSC students.

Col. Ramulu, the secretary of the society, says the move was to leverage the wide access and high presence of television even in rural households.

Soon, students of the 10th class in all government schools joined in and separate slots for the telecast of lessons from classes 6th to 9th were also created, under a State-sponsored programme called Vidyamrutham.

Every first day of the week, there is an exclusive live session to enable students to get their doubts clarified by teachers. The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) supports the initiative in terms of planning key topics and by ensuring quality content management.

Training for teachers

The SCERT has also been imparting online training to teachers through webinars and assessments in self-learning app Abhyasa. The council roped in resource persons from Anna University, RIE Bangalore, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi and EFL University, Hyderabad.

The training comprises a Comprehensive Learning Enhancement Programme (CLEP-1and II), webinar-based training and spoken English series. Under CLEP-1, teachers were given reading material and a webinar link and they were assessed through Abhyasa. "As many as 56,000 teachers across the State attended this programme," says B. Pratap Reddy, SCERT Director. The webinar-based training, attended by 75000 teachers, was all about live interactions on topics like search engines, creative commons, exploring Youtube, image repositories, photoshopping and simple video-making.

After completion of the course, reading material and DVDs of webinar were given to teachers who couldn’t attend the sessions due to technical problems. The spoken English series focussed on classroom conversation.

"The students are slowly adapting to their new virtual classroom and the same could be said about the faculty," says A.V. Ratna Prasad, principal of V.R. Siddhatha Engineering College.

Challenges

Absenteeism of students can be a challenge in the online teaching mode. "The mindset of students and teachers who are experiencing a paradigm shift in learning-teaching mode is the key. It is all about self-discipline and motivation because there is no way to directly monitor them," says Col. Ramulu.

Mr. Ratna Prasad says the college is trying to push students to install a camera in their computers for effective monitoring.

Col. Ramulu, however, is happy with the feedback on the response. Doordarshan has uploaded the videos on Youtube channels which now have crossed 1.15 lakh views. "I may not be accurate but nearly 5 lakh students are said to be attending classes under Vidyamrutham," he says, adding, "It is not a fool-proof system but we are trying to put some system in place."

Monitoring mechanism

Class teachers in the social welfare schools have been asked to call and interact with their students after every class and fill a feedback form. "We cannot completely rely on the data but it does give a rough idea about how the programme is going about," says Col. Ramulu.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 1:15:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/class-in-the-room/article31883596.ece

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