"Reformation is another name of transformation. It is a sign of development." So is the case of the education system. It is endlessly evolving and growing.
Every time it comes with new innovative learning techniques, strategies and processes beyond expectations, it makes teaching significantly easier and challenging at the same time.
From mandatory schooling for children to the distance learning revolution, the education system has seen many changes in the way kids learn over the years! From course designing ways to sharing information in classrooms, everything has changed drastically.
The unprecedented shift towards distance education due to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the recent sweeping changes in education. But the pandemic did not disrupt education for many because online learning came to the rescue. However, people outside the education bubble can hardly comprehend these improvements, challenges, and the overall learning process.
The recent webinar, Classrooms 2.0: Tech-enabled teaching, answers some of the major concerns in education through a detailed journey from blackboards to online dashboards and what this transition entails for the future. Toppr School OS hosted the webinar in partnership with EdTechReview. It was moderated by Utkarsh Lokesh (CEO & Editor, EdTechReview) and joined by experts Sudhir Kukreja, Co-Founder & CEO at Credence Edutech, Entrepreneur, Rajshekar Ratrey, Vice President of Product Management, Toppr, and Dr Amrita Vohra, Director, GEMS Education, India.
The speakers primarily discussed the challenges of student engagement and the pressure to complete the "planned" syllabus.
How has classroom engagement changed over the years, and how has the wall between in-class learning and after-class been blurred?
Dr Amrita Vohra, Director, GEMS school, highlighting the challenges of students' engagement, says it has been difficult for teachers who believe it should be a replica of traditional classrooms. She also says that tactile reference is missing in online classes.
Sharing her schools lesson planning strategies for K12 learners, she says that online learning requires various digital tools and resources for smoother eLearning since the internet is a different world. Educators need many resources to deliver more customized knowledge. Dramatizing learning while making genuine inquiry in education makes learning enjoyable, and since the future belongs to curious people, it is necessary to ignite curiosity among learners
What are your success stories, and how do you work on student engagement?
Sudhir Kukreja says that since his school has most students under the age group 3-4 years, students' engagement is critical. His first brainstorming session was on "how to keep these young kids on-screen to study for a few hours?" And that's where technology became the rescuer.
"We used platforms like Google meet and Zoom to conduct online classes; our teachers took responsibility and involved parents in their kids' learning. All this helped create a cohesive eLearning environment."
He further emphasizes not being confined to textbooks and encourages the usage of digital tools and resources. He concludes that the entire scenario has allowed them to explore new dimensions and use technology for the best levels.
How can teachers increase in-class engagement during this pandemic?
Rajshekhar Ratrey, Toppr Academy, sharing his experience, explained that kids learn better with friends, so playing live quizzes can lead to more engagement. Another aspect could be dividing learners into smaller groups for more collaborations and learning.
In addition, he recommends creating lectures and lessons in a way that promotes student participation.
Dr Vohra, GEMS school, responds that having management play a role is a 'happy disruption' essential to give a trigger.
"When we opt for an online course, at first, we need to address what we need to do? What works and what doesn't? Flipped learning must be used differently in online classes; management must support and understand that 'one size fits all' is certainly not the answer. Every year group has different requirements and requires different pedagogy."
She precisely elaborates that everybody is part of this innovation, everybody is a leader, there's no top-down approach, and everybody participates in this equity process.
Sudhir Kukreja, Credence, further adds that the management team shoulders the responsibilities of nurturing the thought process and the school's philosophies. Their role should be to give the teachers the proper support and invest in technologies as much as possible. He gives the example of using the classroom-based eLearning website his school created a couple of years ago to assess learning outcomes.
Rajshekhar Ratreya, Toppr, states that teachers cannot watch their students after online classes, which is a bigger problem.
"We need to bring in a solution to help teachers track students, know how they spend time, and adapt to it and plan lessons and projects accordingly. Also, this would help establish teacher-parent communications."
What steps can schools take for 100% syllabus completion?
Sudhir Kukreja, Credence, says he encourages his teachers to focus on "what and how we are covering" rather than "how much we complete". As he believes, ultimately, everything is about "what we have learned so far" and not about "how many chapters we have finished".
Dr Amrita agrees that learning to "learn" is important than just completing the portion, ensuring no learning loss.
Rajshekhar, Toppr, also suggests creating an easy, quick, and simple learning format. Sharing Toppr Academy's lesson planning strategy that can be read in 2-3 mins makes it easier for students to quickly read a day before and attend class the next day. They learn things quickly, and complex topics can be addressed in the class with teachers. By doing so, they can learn more in less time.
Later in the webinar, a took place during which the speakers responded to the following questions:
- If you're not cognizant of portion completion, how can you handle the loss of information at any grade level and learning gap later on?
- Which apps can grab young learners' attention, especially of the not so tech-savvy learners?
- How to make children of primary grade independent during online teaching?
- How do you take learning without a textbook?