Learning amidst COVID-19: Adapting to the New Norms

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March 2020 marked the greatest turning point in the education system throughout the globe. Due to the growing pandemic situation all over, schools have to cease and revise their daily academic routine. But as the final results of the academic year were still not released teachers had to adapt to the new norms. Teachers started rushing with printed modules to cater to the needs of the students and also started using Online Learning system and technology as their antidote. Crisis is a part of our everyday life. Teachers and students had to adjust to the different modes of Online Learning using different platforms. Things all got virtual including the daily classes, assessments and few of the schools even held virtual graduation ceremonies.

Now, the schools are all puzzled about how they are going to open the School Year 2020-2021? All passing through mixed emotions and confusion, being puzzled and scared and worried about their kids’ health and future. Students are the building blocks of a nation and are future architects and thus education plays an important role and the education must continue ….

“It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all” (Henri Poincare).

Schools are now adapting to the New Norms and new options of Homeschooling, Remote Learning i.e., Online – Synchronous and Asynchronous, Blended Learning, Printed Modules, Performance based activities, and different infra-structures.

We all need to be resilient, advancing despite adversity, adapting to the new skills and technology during the crisis management. We need to be pro-active and do not wait for adversity.

The real challenge is getting the teachers and the students ready and equipped for the New Normal in education- Strengthening the virtual connection between the school and the students in terms of internet connection and different learning platforms, choosing the most reliable Learning Management System and gadgets for both the students and the teachers. Schools require maximizing the use of G-Suite: Google drive, Google Forms, Google doc, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Google Slides and Google Classrooms a part from the different Learning Management Systems. Schools have come up with various communication tools to set up at different platforms. Different tools for effective communication include Zoom, Google Meet, Messenger, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Firefly, Screencastify, Flashback express, Kahoot, Padlet, Newsela, Facebook, Viber, Email, Phone calls, etc. Different Tools for Assessment adapted include Google Forms, Modules, Firefly, Modules, Quizizz, Quizlet, Performance –based assessment via Zoom, Tigtag, Videos, YouTube, etc.

The educational institutes need to concentrate on five major concerns during the present Crisis Management, which includes Communication, Adaptability, Self-Control, Relationship Management and Creativity.

To adapt to the New Norms, we need to concentrate both the well-being of the students, teachers and parents too. They need to be an Occupational Balance between Happiness, Productivity, Purpose and Meaning. The Learning Delivery needs to have Orientation, Motivation, Learners’ Needs, Instructions and Support. The Pre-Requisites to materials development includes Curriculum, Course development teams, Instructional designs, Course guides, Vision and Mission, Resources and Student support services.

The Modules must include the 5Cs – Communication, Creativity, Critical thinking, Collaboration and Character.

The teachers need to structure in balanced student workload including physical development, Cognitive development, Communication and language development, Emotional and Social Development.

Make the Online Teaching Effective by making it a Group effort – Effective Team-Work, ‘Chunk’ the lessons with Animations and Pictures, be mentally present and Parse your time.

The educational institutes need to adapt to the New Teaching Methodologies including flexible teaching options, and Technology- Enhanced learning modes for the New Normal. They also need to learn about the Psycho-social interventions in schools to cope with the normal stress of life, to work productively.

The teachers must also learn about Psychological First- Aid (PFA) to provide basic, human support, delivering practical information showing empathy, concern, respect and confidence in the abilities of the students. They need to impart education based on emotional well-being, social well-being, skills and knowledge.

The present scenario requires a revised flexible curriculum prioritizing the physical and emotional well-being of the students, teachers, parents and the complete well-being of the society.

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