Pune: As schools quickly switched to the online mode of teaching due to the coronavirus lockdown, online trainers were pressed into service to upskill their teachers and start online learning-teaching process sans glitches.
Founder and director of Pune-based Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning, Charu Mathur stated that it has reached out to about 900 teachers who are undertaking training program 'transiting from physical to virtual classrooms' during this lockdown period.
"We had started with a batch of 50 teachers from two Pune schools on April 2. Now about 25 schools from three cities-- Pune, Chennai and Konnur have enrolled for the training," said Mathur.
Mathur along with her two colleagues, domain expert Vrushali Patankar from Pune and technology expert Shephali Bose from Mumbai, has been training the teachers to develop online content for their students. The first part of the training is about designing the content-- how to create online content and make it interesting or activity-based, and the second part is learning the technology. Daily about four-five batches of 50 teachers take the training starting from 11 am to 6 pm.
The NGO has been working in this field for the past six years. Mathur stated that previously they would conduct training for around 500-600 teachers in a year, "Now in just one month the number of schools and teachers have gone up," she said.
One of the reasons, Mathur noted, is that schools and teachers have realised the importance of online education and the need for upskilling to online teaching-learning methods.
"Earlier, it was difficult to convince schools to be upscale to online teaching-learning method. A few schools would enthusiastically call us for workshops, apart from this some teachers would attend our training sessions in an individual capacity. However, it never created the culture of online education as it wasn't compulsory, even though several entities promoted digital learning," said Mathur.
"Now, because of the lockdown, we are left with no other option but conduct online classes; hence there has been a sudden rise and such a big turnover," she added.
TEACHING A TEACHER
Teachers too have been finding it challenging to shift from conventional to unconventional methods of teaching, but have accepted the change positively.
"There are a few teachers who have openly accepted that they aren't tech-savvy but are patiently learning it. The schools have been supporting these teachers. Interestingly, we also see some teachers sit with their children or husband to seek help and understand the technical aspects during the sessions," said Mathur.
She also stated the teachers of the Council for Indian School Certificate Education (CISCE) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) board schools adapted the activity-based teaching process quicker than teachers of state board schools.
"There was some reluctance from the state-board teachers. It was initially difficult to convince them. Hence, we started including school authorities and stakeholders in our sessions because the change of attitude for the online education system will happen only when the entire school adapts it," said Mathur.
"Online teaching isn't about constant lecturing as it is done in the classroom, but to engage students in activities. Even to save screen time for both teachers and students, it is suggested that teachers should develop content that involves more activities that can be completed offline by the students. So teachers can explain for half an hour or so and give tasks to students to do it for the week," she added.
The workshop also focuses on training teachers for creating virtual classrooms, prepare lesson plans and create lesson based activities for students, which they can do at home. They can set up virtual libraries, upload learning material, assignments and evaluate their students.
The learning process for a student in tech-driven virtual classrooms isn't confined either to the timing of the school or being physically present. There are a rich variety of content available online which educators can use to design their study materials for students. The blended learning system also enables students to self-learn since the learning process is independent of the time and place, stated Mathur.