K-12 schools are adopting the digital learning route in the face of the Covid-19 crisis

Apr 3, 2020 | Digital Classrooms

A Quick Summary:
As lockdowns are being mandated across the country, the onus falls on academicians to find effective ways of educating students from the confines of home. Students in K-12 schools are still in the phase of growing up and learning responsibility. They needed classmates, guidance from teachers, and a sense of community.

As schools quickly shift base from physical classrooms to online classrooms, there are a few factors that need to be kept in mind:

  1. Content needs to be well planned for online classes, just as it has been for traditional physical classrooms. Notes and lectures being rolled out online should be easily accessible for students. Schools should keep in mind that laptops are often shared between people in the family, and design the curriculum that allows students and parents to access school work in a staggered manner.
  2. Students need to be self-disciplined about online classes and ensure their days are scheduled. Schools should ensure a mix of subjects each day helps keep students engaged.
  3. The involvement of parents in this scenario is important and essential. However since parents are monitoring their child’s online classes along with their own work, schools should ensure that content is rolled out to parents in an easily accessible manner.

Online classrooms are a ray of light in these tough times. As we work our way through this time, teachers are an essential and important resource for children.

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In the face of the Covid-19 crisis and the nationwide lockdown, K-12 schools are facing unique challenges, just like every other sector. Most schools had responsibly shut down very early on as a preventive measure to control the spread of Covid-19 among the vulnerable population of children. Students returning from holidays might have been carriers and a classroom would provide an ideal environment for spread of the virus. Given the uncertainty around classroom learning opportunity at the beginning of the new academic year, there is an urgent need to seek alternatives to ensure that there is continuity in learning for the students. Many teachers and academicians even deem it to be one of the essential services to be continued in the face of a lockdown. One of the ways in which schools have met this challenge is through the adoption of Digital Classrooms’.

In the recent years, many universities and skilling programs have moved to distance learning or online lessons. This gives an incredible advantage to up skill oneself while being employed or learn from a distant location. As university students are adults there is a reasonable expectation for them to be able to access and navigate technology. The big reason this has not been adopted by K-12 schools at the same scale is because at this age children are still learning to be responsible adults and will need the guidance of a teacher and the support of a classroom community. The COVID crisis has led to major innovation and behavior changes in this regard with schools having little to no choice but to move and move quickly to digital classrooms. Teachers are thus looking to innovate and create content that can be tailored to a digital platform.

Here are key factors that are considered when moving to digital classrooms for K-12 students:

  • Well planned content: Just like any traditional classroom it is important that lessons are well planned with clear learning objectives in mind. The platform used must also be able to give feedback to the teacher on how students are performing and allow them to resolve queries and difficulties. Schools must also ensure that content be presented in a manner that is easy to access and can also be displayed on various devices. There have been recent stories from families in lockdown where there is only one laptop available and there is a tussle between the working parents and the student for device time. Its best that content be built so that it can be accessed on smartphones so that there is enough devices at home for the student to participate.
  • Self-discipline and engagement: Students must learn self-discipline and scheduling a lot earlier as the onus of responsibility for the same will be with them. It is also important to ensure there is the right mix of subjects and activities through the day so that the student remains engaged in the lessons. A number of physical activity breaks through the day will ensure the learner is fresh and some schools have been community building by singing songs together on video call.
  • Effective parental involvement: Unfortunately a lot of the brunt of responsibility falls on parents in the digital classroom. From monitoring to printing and preparing resources that have been sent by the school, Parents need to get adequately involved in the digital learning process if they would want it to benefit their children. Further, with the lockdown, managing children and engaging with them through activities becomes a 24×7 job, unlike the school hours when parents get a break. Schools thus must keep this in mind when preparing lesson plans and ensure that content is given in the easiest possible format to print or open so that parents are not wasting time and struggling.

All in all there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 crisis. There has been a general lethargy for traditional classrooms to move into the 21st century but with the pandemic and the resulting crisis, has made digital classroom concept a lucrative solution and also the need of the hour. School communities seem to have adapted well to this and going by the current efficacy, digital classrooms might be a format that is here to stay, long after the re-opening of the classrooms and return to normalcy. For now though, as the governments and the economy continue to struggle to contain the pandemic, teachers and academicians continue the silent work of building the next generation of citizens, with next generation tools!

(This article is written by Rohan Parikh, Managing Director of The Green Acres Academy for India Today here.)

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