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Bengal schools elicit mixed reactions in embracing digital education

Written by The Optimist

COVID19 has changed the normal course of our lives and altered the façade industries over the past couple of months. “Change” is the very word which COVID19 taught us. Change in almost every sphere of life. Adapting to a new normal with work from home, attending online classes or embracing technology hasn’t been an easy journey for many.

Virtual education is currently the new normal for students

Just like every other sector, education, which received a massive blow since the early phase of the virus outbreak, too had to reinvent itself and adopt new rules. The very meaning and purpose of school education got changed overnight. With social distancing being one of the key components of protection from the disease, educational institutes had to be shut down and resort to virtual platforms to carry on with their curriculum. Schools, colleges and other educational institutes are still adapting to this change and are redefining their curricula and way of teaching, to ensure maximum learning impact. But it’s easier said than done.  

COVID19 slowly bid goodbye to the traditional methods of teaching and welcomed the trend of online classes

Research says, for around 1.25 billion school children in 184 countries, the teaching pattern has changed as technology became the core of everything. Most of the teachers and students are habituated with physical classrooms, socializing with each other and learning new skills physically at school. But now, the prevailing situation gave birth to online classes which transformed the way of studying.

The challenging situation prevailing across the globe has given Ranbir Purkayastha, Principal of Wood Ridge International School, an opportunity to shift focus from ‘Schooling only at School ‘ to ‘School Home collaboration for Learning’. Purkayasthasays, “Schools are undertaking different types of activities by making the best use of technology. Schools are preparing and in fact redefining learning outcomes to the curriculum designed by them in view of this pandemic situation. Different student enrichment activities (which include various co-scholastic modules) are designed to make the online classes joyful. Assessment tools are developed to design online formative assessments and even self assessment activities for the students to keep track of their learning.

Ranbir Purkayastha, Principal of Wood Ridge International School

Numerous creative assignments, projects and worksheets are designed by teachers to complete the tasks easily at home either by students or under guidance of parents. Parents-teacher interactive sessions are also devised and parents are made aware of their child’s progress and ways to improve the learning atmosphere at home.”

Speaking about the challenges that COVID19 has posed before school authorities, he adds, “This alternative medium of teaching learning process has opened up stark realities of the hegemony of elite schools over the education system, and somewhere down the line resulting in digital distinction between schools of urban and rural areas. Private unaided schools are facing a terrible financial crunch as the pandemic has resulted in non- payment of fees by many parents. Fees collection has become an added challenge to these private unaided schools where funds are getting dried up due to low fee collection. Parents are unable to pay the fees on time and some who can pay are not keen to pay for online classes.”

“Besides, adapting to the technology took time for most of the traditional teachers. Secondly, learning to use the digital apps and tools like Google Meet and other software, to conduct online classes took some more time. Lastly, unnecessary interference of parents during class time became another impediment. Even, maintaining discipline during classes becomes a tough job for instructors. I feel that the blended approach of learning will take some time to run on its normal course,” rues Purkayastha.

However, Dhrubajyoti Adhikary, Principal of Sarada Vidya Mandir (CBSE), Raiganj has a different opinion when it comes to online learning. According to him, in spite of having no special training in gadgets and gears, the teaching fraternity and students of his school, have responded well to the emerging scenario. “There was unprecedented support from guardians in welcoming and embracing this shift to technology and digital platforms. Teachers accepted the challenge and made the online mode an interesting exercise. They formed a WhatsApp group, held video meetings, shared notes and documents, opened YouTube channels, encouraged students through different awareness videos and deftly replaced classroom teaching into a new digital system of schooling,” shares Adhikary.

Dhrubajyoti Adhikary, Principal of Sarada Vidya Mandir (CBSE), Raiganj

As the time progresses, it is being established that though challenging, virtual education has also opened up newer avenues, with a promise of possibilities for all. The current situation has established technology is going to be the new normal and digital transformation of school education will be the way forward.

“let’s sail towards an interesting journey ahead where books will be replaced by digital devices and the new system of education will be embraced by all children and teachers,” concludes  Adhikary.

Image Courtesy : Google Images

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