Virtual Teaching: A New Normal

e learning

With the outbreak of COVID-19, educational institutions had to change their mode of teaching. Though virtual teaching is not something new, but doing it on a daily basis has made it a new normal.  Educational institutions started an online mode of teaching to recommence the studies. Now when teachers and students get ready in the morning, it is to gear themselves up for the class on the computer screen from the comforts of their home. But one cannot ignore the fact that the experience of a classroom can never be replaced by virtual teaching because it becomes all the more difficult to ensure student engagement, interaction, and connectivity when teaching virtually. This is the big challenge that teachers are facing since virtual teaching has become the new norm. Pandemic has forced everyone to shift from their status quo and accept the new change which is inevitable.

Teachers have to become tech-savvy and will have to devise varied innovative methods to make e-learning more interesting. Developing interest among students is a priority and teachers are putting in their best efforts to become tech smart. Some teachers are a novice to this new mode of teaching and are on a learning spree along with being educators. It requires grit and dedication. This is a transitional phase for teachers just like everyone else affected by COVID-19 and the best we can do is appreciate the efforts made by them. Teaching online becomes challenging because of Internet issues, background disturbance during live classes, lack of facilities in rural areas, students engaged on smart phones, and lack of responses from them. It becomes difficult to track the students attentiveness during the online class or if they are able to grasp the lessons or not. The excessive screen time has made our eyes more vulnerable which is not good for health. Checking the subjective answers on screen becomes strenuous and a time taking task. Challenge lies before the teachers to use diversified narrative techniques while delivering lessons online. They have to prepare study materials in the form of power point presentations, audio and visual lectures, quizzes, to liven up the class for the students. Students are also adapting this huge change and are getting accustomed to it slowly and gradually. Studying continuously for long hours online is damaging their health. Concentration midst background noises, lack of suitable environment and losing internet connectivity presents a major problem for them. Continuous classes and the heap of assignments afterward in every subject to be submitted online tires them because of which they lose interest. Therefore looking for ways to capture student’s attention and to make e-learning relevant and fun is demanding for teachers.

Innovation in teaching and student engagement can be brought through many applications that are available online. To hold live interactive classes, applications like Zoom, Google Meet, Team Link, Microsoft Teams can be used., Google Classroom can be used to upload assignments and lesson plans. Clapboard-StoryXpress Recorder and LOOM are the software that can be downloaded on Google chrome and used for recording video lessons links that can be shared with students. Students can go through them at their own place and pace and in the next class, the topics can be discussed. Ed Puzzle and Kahoot are great tools that will attract the student’s attention. They help in creating game-based learning quizzes which can be conducted to judge how much students are grasping the topic. Besides these tools there are lot many others like instructables app for teaching,,, Purdue writing lab, OWL Edu, Edutopia that can be explored to suit the teaching needs. These interactive learning methods motivate students to be attentive in online classes.

Students can get learning material online easily. To stand out, teachers need to be a cut above the rest by incorporating uniqueness, ingenuity and by avoiding monotonous teaching. They need to manifest pedagogical tactful behavior, embrace continuity in learning, explore possible distractions during virtual classes and try to work on them. Smile and eye contact during live sessions exudes confidence and helps in building a good rapport with students. Instead of having regular classes in all the subjects, classes can be divided into shifts which will also help in reducing the screen time. This will create less pressure on students and teachers too. Teachers and students together will have to build an affinity to create a positive learning environment.

Shraddha Agarwal is an Assistant Professor in Jagran College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Kanpur. She is also running an NGO, Bhavna Welfare Foundation with her friends for the betterment of underprivileged children and creating a society which recognizes the right of all to live with honour.



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