The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on Wednesday. Many schools, colleges and universities are closing down their premises to reduce the spread of infections. And many of these educational institutions are increasingly switching to online instruction.
Harvard University asked its students to not return after the spring break ending on March 23. It has asked students residing on campus to vacate in five days and to not return until the end of the semester. During this period, the Ivy League university plans conduct virtual classes.
Stanford University said in a statement that it will begin its spring quarter on time, but will use virtual learning instead of in-person classes. The reaction to COVID-19 is same across many campuses in the U.S. and several other countries.
Thirty-nine countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, north America and South America have announced or enforced school and university closures as on March 11, according to UNESCO. Twenty-two countries have closed schools nationwide, impacting about 37.23 lakh children and youth.
As a growing number of countries are resorting to school and university closures, there are some online tools that educators and students can use to teach and learn virtually.
Classdojo is a free educational app that enables teachers, students and parents to interact online. It allows teachers to create a virtual classroom in which they can share videos and pictures. An account on the app can be created only by the teacher. The student can access the virtual classroom with an access code sent by the teacher.
EkStep is an on-demand platform that allows educators to create, share and distribute free community-sourced educational content for K-12 class students. The app is loaded with several educational videos that students can access any time and learn in a self-paced way.
Khan Academy provides complete course material from K-12 that can be accessed by students at their own pace. The app also tracks student’s progress in each lesson.
LabXchange is a free online platform that brings together top quality content from diverse sources, including videos, assessments and simulations. The platform was built in associations with Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Science
Lark is a collaboration package that offers service to schools free of charge. The package provides 200 GB free storage space, video-conferencing, messaging service, online interactive and collaborative document processing for projects, calendar to sync up the syllabus and workplace to integrate third-party applications.
Dingtalk is a free communication and collaboration platform that offers video-conferencing, calendar and attendance management and instant messaging. The app was recently in the news as students, in Wuhan, who did not want to attend remote classes, tried to boot Dingtalk out of the Play store by leaving one-star reviews.