With schools still shut due to the pandemic and classes being conducted in full swing on the digital medium, teachers, professors, tutors, have had to equip themselves with new skills in the realm of technology; an unchartered area of teaching that initially was exceptionally challenging for most of the senior staff. In the lockdown months, they have evolved from having a working knowledge about using Zoom, WhatsApp video and other online apps and tools to deliver lessons over the Internet to students in the comfort of their homes.
On Teacher’s Day, The Morning Standard spoke to a few elderly teachers about their experience. Deepa Kapoor, 48, admits she still has problems creating and sharing Excel sheets online.
Kapoor says in pre-COVID times, the school would organise a training session for any new requirement expected from teachers, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this kind of training didn’t happen.
“I know how to attend a meeting on Zoom by using the link. But if someone asks me to create the link and add the students, that is something I am not comfortable with, and I would have to take the help of my children. However, I have grown fairly comfortable with the various tools we use on WhatsApp like sharing files, making group video calls or a broadcast group.”
Asha Hans, Principal of South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Girls School, Madhipur, says the faculty was not mentally- prepared for this change as the pandemic and resultant lockdown was so sudden.
“According to official orders, we had to shift our model to online teaching instantly. I feel, private schools students had it easier than students in government schools. Many of our teachers faced humungous difficulties; they were not fully aware about all the WhatsApp features. Before we learnt to operate video calls, we only knew how to share worksheets downloaded from Facebook.” Getting parents on board with technology was an additional challenge.
“Even now, at a recent parentteacher meeting only a few parents managed to attend, and we had to download the Hindi keyboard for the ease of language for students.” However, overall, Hans found the experience of learning new things enriching. With the new knowledge she feels much more equipped to bring a range of creativity to children’s lives. But Chandni Gupta*, 54, grappled with the new information.
With additional responsibilities at home, the requirement to learn online tools at a quick pace proved irksome. “I didn’t have an option. Either I had to quit or learn this very quickly to keep up with the times. I just hoped if we had a bit more time to learn or training sessions were conducted for a seamless transition, this experience would have be far easier for me. After all, most of us enjoy gaining new perspectives.” To ensure this seamless training in new online tools, Dr Dilip Kumar, Professor & HOD, Journalism and Mass Communication, MERI College, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, has planned short term online courses that impart knowledge of online tools for both elder teachers and youngsters.
“The idea is to impart knowledge with a lot of fun activities within the course suited for both elderly and youngsters alike.” Empathising with senior staff is Gaurav Tyagi, 52, Founder of Career Xpert focusing on providing career guidance to NEET students, who offers a few solutions. “Some teachers still hesitate to use the available technology, mostly due to lack of time, resources, and confidence in themselves.
I suggest that those who need assistance with tech devices can rely on their younger colleagues and family members. Other than this, having a support team at school that is flexible and available when in need is crucial for any tech rollout. Creating a school-wide culture of tech integration and an openness to take risks is very important. Some lessons will not go as planned and that’s fine. Teachers should reflect and lear n from these challenges.”
Gaurav Tyagi, 52, Founder of Career Xpert, feels. “Those who need assistance with tech devices can rely on their younger colleagues and family members. Other than this, having a support team at school that is flexible and available when in need is crucial for any tech rollout. Some lessons will not go as planned and that’s fine. Teachers should reflect and learn from these challenges .”