In recent weeks, technology has been playing a crucial role in bringing people and communities together, during a time when children and adults alike are homebound and relatively isolated. When used right, technology can play a pivotal role in overcoming this sense of isolation and loneliness, especially among young kids who need their peers, mentors, and teachers in order to grow and develop properly.
Students of many private as well as public schools in the major cities of India are nowadays attending their classes via Zoom, a video conferencing app that has been modified and appropriated for the purpose of facilitating digital learning. With schools, colleges, and other educational institutions shutting their doors, these technologies and apps have proved to be a saving grace for students, teachers, and parents alike.
Many students, particularly in the larger cities and towns, are attending daily classes via Zoom, Skype, and other similar online platforms. Every day, schools electronically deliver their schedules and the teachers and students log in early in the morning. Many schools are settling in, experimenting with different digital learning formats and styles. Typically, such online classes involve 40-minute long lessons interspersed by 20-minute breaks.
The Role of Teachers
Teachers and educators have had to make several compromises in order to make remote learning possible for their students in such a short period of time. Not many teachers in India have the training or the technological know-how to easily conduct online classes using video-conferencing technology. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent lockdown, they’ve had to learn exactly that, and quickly.
Younger, more tech-savvy teachers have had an edge in this regard, as they usually know how to use such apps or similar digital learning software. However, not all teachers are equally capable of making the best use of such software through messaging, white-boards, etc. This can make it hard for the students to follow the class and understand subjects that rely heavily on practical demonstration and clear communication, such as physics, chemistry, accountancy, or literature.
Some of the more enterprising students have even been trying to use such online platforms to their advantage. While following a lesson, they often send each other direct messages, which many have likened to the age-old practice of passing notes in class. Many schools have barred this feature of the Zoom app after realizing what was going on amongst the students.
The Effects of Connectivity and Privilege
The connectivity problems in many parts of the country prevent students from making use of the video feature, in which case they have to make do with audio, listening to what the teacher is saying without being able to follow the visual cues. For some students, this inconvenience has become a handy excuse to attend virtual school in their pajamas or nighties, without bothering to change for a video lesson since the teacher wouldn’t be able to see them anyway.
Most city establishments, despite recent forays into the realm of virtual classes and digital learning, are struggling to complete the syllabus in a timely manner. Partly, the desire to keep children engaged despite the lockdown comes from a belief that schools need to justify the school-fee they are charging parents. Despite grappling with the nuances of the technology they’re using, teachers are trying their best to mimic the usual classroom setting and create a sense of normalcy. Apart from Zoom, Microsoft Teams and BYJU’s are some of the apps largely used by schools to keep students on track with their studies.
Some of the more tech-savvy establishments, such as the schools in the most affluent neighborhoods of large cities, are having an easier time making the transition to the digital space due to the fact that they were already on Apple’s K-12 Education and the G Suite Google Classrooms before the coronavirus pandemic kicked off. Affluence and privilege have allowed them to hit the ground running in a landscape where many are still learning to stand.
Bringing Communities Together During a Crisis
Many modern schools have a culture that revolves largely around technology, with apps and digital platforms being used frequently and embedded heavily within the system. Platforms like Apple Education can provide students with an opportunity to achieve both educational and digital growth, with many educators around the world believing that this is the ultimate future of learning, an inevitability that has just been rushed in sooner than expected by the pandemic.
Taking the opportunity presented by the pandemic to create a healthy digital ecosystem can enable schools to make it easier for students to learn from home during future problems, be they personal or societal. Such connectivity will enable kids to retain their collaborative ethos even when they’re homebound, either due to this pandemic or for any other reason that might crop up in the future.
The current lockdown can prove to be a great opportunity for students, teachers, educational institutions, and companies operating in the nascent tech-education industry. If used correctly, such innovative technology can help bring children and communities together while at the same time making education more accessible than ever before, to kids and adults in every part of the world!
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