"A good teacher is one who is still learning by himself/herself"---. By Rabindranath Tagore.
The lockdown should not stop our students from learning. In the 21st Century, we must utilize the information and communications technology (ICT) to break the barriers. Lockdown E-Pathshala, a YouTube channel, has now been tailored for live teacher-led audio-visual classes.
Ramgarh, carved out from Hazaribagh district, is situated around 46 km away from state's capital, Ranchi. Lying at the heart of the State, the district is known for mining, and is an industrial and cultural hub with the existence of the famous Maa Chhinnamasta Temple.
In Ramgarh, 971 schools, including private ones, are spread across six blocks. A total of 2,06,113 students are studying in government schools and 2,898 teachers are engaged in government schools.
The biggest threat was that school remained closed and education became inaccessible to many.
Using Technology To Take Classrooms To Homes
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted academic plans across the globe. It has bought unprecedented challenges for teachers, students and parents not only in the cities but also in the remote pockets of the district.
Taking advantage of the mobile coverage in the district and learning from the online education models adopted by universities and schools across the globe, the district planned to reach out to students through virtual classes. A few challenges emerged in the initial stage:
- There are many initiatives by the Govt. for online repository of learning materials. However, the use of the learning materials have remained a challenge. Also the easiness for accessing those tutorials is difficult for a simple mobile literate.
- As this is completely new, can students accept the new way of learning?
- With the existing IT Skill of teachers, can the class room transactions be done virtually?
- Can the teachers create quality learning materials? And so on..
The Deputy Commissioner, Sandeep Singh, and District Education Officer, Sushil Kumar, had strong faith on the teachers and their capability to deliver this. Keeping these challenges in mind, District Administration Ramgarh and District Education Department with support from the Aspirational District Programme Cell (TADP cell) prepared a comprehensive plan. It was believed that YouTube channel will have a wider outreach compared to any other media, as most people are mobile literate.
To make the class room transactions familiar, the audio-visual content are to be developed by our own teachers. With this baby step, the 'Lockdown E-Pathshala', official YouTube channel to promote the online platform of teaching-learning for students of Std. VI to XII was formally launched in April, 2020. With support from 40 active and dedicated teachers, around 290 Learning contents are uploaded on the channel.
Using Social Media To Strengthen Parent Teacher Association:
As the initiative is central to self learning, parents involvement is critical in ensuring children do practice the lessons at home. The teachers are encouraged to create WhatsApp group with parents (class wise). The Audio-visual learning content is shared with parents over WhatsApp. Parents are encouraged to participate in this process and help the students learn.
Administrative Will, Technology Adaptation By Parents, Teachers, Students Changing Education Landscape
With the lockdown and no physical gatherings becoming the new normal, there is a need for strong administrative will to make virtual class rooms a reality for restoring education among students. The Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Singh's confidence on teachers and the administrative will has made it happen.
"Students learning should not be interrupted due to lockdown. We must adopt technology and innovative ways to keep the system functioning. Lockdown E-Pathshala is one small effort to restore learning. Together the teachers and the Govt will make it happen. The objective of this platform and technology is not to replace regular schooling and teaching practices but to supplement classroom teaching so that education can reach to all children in Ramgarh district through an alternative learning platform. Your constructive suggestions are always welcome. My request to every parent to subscribe the channel and ensure children make use of the learning materials. I believe, students will be benefitted immensely from this," says Deputy Commissioner, Ramgarh.
#लॉक डाउन के दौरान बच्चों को शिक्षा उपलब्ध कराने के उद्देश्य से Lock down E- Pathshala, DC Ramgarh यूट्यूब चैनल की शुरुआत की गई है। चैनल पर जाने के लिए क्लिक करें- https://t.co/8Y7PzWqFAl@JharkhandCMO pic.twitter.com/IiDlfvlx6e— DC Ramgarh (@DC_Ramgarh) June 16, 2020
"E -Pathashala YouTube channel is a platform with wide ranges of useful lessons available for classes VI-XII. The Govt school teachers are working very hard in making these learning content. I am deeply obliged to the teachers for creating such wonderful contents and to Deputy Commissioner for all support in making this endeavor a savior for students," says District Education Officer, Ramgarh.
A Step Towards Professional Development; Teacher Community Becoming More Digital Literate
Digital readiness of government school teachers has always been criticised. The E-Pathsala platform has made the teachers develop their skills and adopt a new method of class room transaction.
Its new for most of the teachers to record the class room teaching and observe the delivery of content. It has helped them realise how the class room transaction can be improvised. More over, the use of mobile to record video contents and upload them in the –Pathsala channel itself is a new experience.
Teachers use whiteboard to record the class room delivery and few use Power Point and slides to elaborate the topic. It's a new experience for them. The YouTube channel was meant for students but teachers accepted the channel as a teacher-centred participatory support system for their own in-service professional development.
Teachers have expressed that it's an effective tool to improve teaching process. Because teachers are conscious that their video will not only be seen by their students but also evaluated by their colleagues and parents. Thus, teachers are preparing each video with detailed lesson plan and giving their best.
Teachers take support from their peers for digital learning and made conversation around video delivery/demonstration and pedagogy. This builds strong bonding among teachers and shown the collegiality among teachers. Volunteers of Local Revolutionary youth club & 'Dream a Dream' organisation extended their support in enriching the quality of the content.
"At present content for Math, English, Social-science, Hindi is available for Upper primary classes and Biology, Chemistry, Physics & Math for Higher Secondary. Teachers are connected through WhatsApp group where peer review of the content is done and based on the suggestions, the content is improvised. This platform is acting as a medium for our own professional development. We are becoming tech savvy!. This is motivating for us," says teacher Anjay Agrawal.
The new expectations related to teacher effectiveness generating new paradigms and implications for teachers in-service. The district is now planning to use this as a tool to build capacity of teachers. Contents on "teachers reflective dairy and live career counseling sessions" would be a major attraction.
The administration is committed for development of more quality contents and efforts around increasing outreach of these contents to more and more students. This distant-home-based-education delivery has helped lakhs of students and more to benefit in the near future.