There are changes and then there are changes. It’s like we’re on a roller coaster ride with no stop button. For now, the universe has pushed us to a corner where we need to keep up with the pace of change with newer coping mechanisms. The unprecedented uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic test our inner strength, determination, flexibility and adaptability.
Accepting and adapting to change can be a Herculean task if it doesn’t come from the heart. When children’s learning is no longer negotiable and needs to be continued, it becomes easier for teachers to take up this challenge and adapt accordingly.
After almost 30 sessions for the online Mindspark live class (https://www.mindspark.in) As an educator, I asked myself certain questions: Do I practice what I preach? Am I ready to make the change that will allow me to see the current situation as a great opportunity? Do I push my boundaries to learn, adopt and adapt?
Connecting in a virtual classroom using a cloud-based video conferencing platform can be very daunting for both students and teachers. From buying digital devices to getting high-speed internet and digital education software to submitting assignments online, both teachers and students need to be on the ball to learn and apply newer skills.
The job of an educator has always been challenging as we prepare children to enter real life in fifteen to twenty years’ time in a world we may not have imagined. To quote from the National Education Policy 2020: “The world is changing rapidly in the knowledge landscape. With various dramatic advances in science and technology, such as the rise of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, many unskilled jobs around the world can be taken over by machines, while the need for skilled labor, particularly in math, computer science, and data science, is compounded with multidisciplinary skills in the sciences, social sciences and humanities are increasingly in demand. “
Hence, the question arises as to whether teachers are willing to adapt to the current online education scenario. Before deciding on an adjustment decision, it is important to understand the parameters of the change.
The following graphic shows the ‘Gradual release of the responsibility model, which “… emphasizes the teaching that leads the students to become capable thinkers and learners when they do the tasks with which they have not yet developed specialist knowledge.” (Buehl, 2005)
The ideal scenario is that education should create responsible self-learners, promote metacognitive skills, and encourage creativity. To achieve this, an intelligent combination of guided instruction and focused instruction can be worked out. The mere imparting of knowledge has given way to supporting students with skills such as analysis and synthesis. There is a lot of scope for teaching these skills in online courses.
It is easier to have smaller groups and interventions that allow the teacher to alternate between “teacher-led learning” and “independent learning”. Online classes have great potential to be creative and enable a new kind of learning atmosphere.
Let’s look at the benefits of taking online courses. To ensure a high level of engagement for the students, an online platform can help in a number of ways. Conducting courses on a meeting platform like Zoom, Google Classroom, Cisco Webex, etc. has certain advantages and disadvantages. In the past two months, the following points have been highlighted for this learning medium:
- Students are at home and in a comfort zone. The whole house is at their disposal to convert into a math laboratory. For example, in one of the sessions where we worked on symmetry and rotational symmetry, they had a variety of objects around them that they could use for learning. These were then used to provide a deeper understanding of the concept.
- In contrast to a lesson situation, it is easier on an online platform to use the virtual means to lead the children to the necessary understanding. In a session where students are shown videos of three-dimensional shapes, using the mesh to open up the surfaces and sides of the shapes helps students visualize and understand concepts such as surface and volume.
- In a session the teacher has to observe, listen, visualize and think logically the students. Using multiple interventions such as videos, simulations, problem solving and games becomes easier on one online platform.
- The possibility of a differentiated education becomes better with online courses. Students can be included in smaller groups with a moderator and a co-moderator and given tasks according to their learning needs.
- Mindspark’s correction details again help the moderator to ensure the correct intervention to remove misunderstandings and bridge learning gaps.
- The interactive modules on Introduction, Remedies, Enrichments, and application-based games provide a fantastic intervention in the sessions that students will love, along with much-needed learning outcomes according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (picture attached below for reference).
The current situation of lockdown and inability to be physically present in a school affects students in many ways – not all in ways that are good for their growth. A certain amount of empathy is the need of the hour. If the students feel comfortable and positively engaged, they can deal with this extraordinary situation. The first few minutes of each session are spent discussing the current scenario and the children have expressed frustration at not being able to go to school. I realized that they just want someone to patiently hear them. I also find it easier to get an idea of which students are having problems and give them crucial attention to aid them in their struggle.
Nevertheless, I would like to point out that there are certain restrictions in online lessons compared to real classrooms. What matters here is that you cannot build on what is missing and I want to tell my fellow educators that we need to build a system with the resources, ideas and media that we have. An enlarged learning gap can lead to irreversible setbacks in the learning level of our students.
It is a quantum change with a quantum scope for the Mindspark Live class, which also offers enormous potential in the future, combined with scalability. Let us continue to adapt to this new virtual world of education and let us help students face this new reality by being their guides. Let us continue to reach out to students to create a world in which they learn with understanding.
22 years of teaching experience and work as a Senior Education Specialist with the Mindspark Development Team. I love music, read books and watch films. I practice Transcendental Mediation and
Reiki for spiritual growth.
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