Virtual Learning – The New Magic for Students
Covid-19 has created a tormenting atmosphere all over the world. The education sector is one of the most affected sectors these days. The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers four high-quality and challenging educational programs for a worldwide community of schools, aiming to create a better, more peaceful world. Considering the current scenario, the IB has come up with some specific guidelines on how to tackle this situation.
It is believed that to overcome some problems, we must know the problems first. Hence IB has put forth ideas as to how to overcome the complexities of virtual learning. It is obvious that nobody would be able to recreate the face-to-face classrooms. So, the main motive of the virtual learning should not be to recreate a traditional classroom. Teachers should focus mainly on how to make the students learn both in synchronous (collaboratively with a group of students and teachers via video conferencing and screen sharing) and asynchronous (offline assignments, worksheets, recorded audio files and creative engagements) ways. During this lockdown, the children should not feel isolated. They should be more engaged into learning and the parents or guardians should also spend some time discussing the assignments, rather the topics for the same.
IB believes in the ability to question. Every information nowadays is available on various online platforms. The motive is not only to acquire data or information. Education is a part of learning. The ultimate goal is to learn and in order to do so, one needs to find the answers oneself. IB promotes this value of education. IB has also rolled out a guideline structure for the same which is available on their website (www.ibo.org). They are helping their schools to combat this epidemic with the strength of learning, further being open for the schools to reach out.
Screen-time has been a major concern for the parents due to virtual learning. American Academy of Pediatrics has set out a guideline for meaningful screen-time and conferencing for every age group. Shanghai American School, affiliated to IB, has suggested to have a balanced synchronous and asynchronous learning. IB’s continuity of learning plan for emergency learning has put forth the teaching guidelines keeping in mind the transitions of students from one type of learning (traditional, physical classroom environment) to another (digitized, virtual environment) as their learning context rapidly changes.
E-learning has been a buzzword for around 4-5 years now. But the Corona Virus pandemic has forced the industry to take really serious steps. Education cannot be left as a black box that serves one kind and rejects others. The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) calls the lockdown ‘a golden opportunity for education’ with 22,778 CBSE affiliated schools in India. However, a digital exclusion definitely prevails. There is quite an uncertainty as to how long online learning will replace the ‘real’ classroom teaching. It is also difficult to convince parents at times since it is true that no technology or audio or video features, the tech tools are offering, can ever replace the classroom setting and the human-to-human contact in real. Most CBSE schools have raised questions since it is not easy to hold the attention of the students online due to the lack of physical monitoring. Sometimes students log out of sessions if they do not know the answers. Further, they choose only the classes; they want to be a part of. Due to this first-time experience for all, most CBSE school teachers are not ready to take the risk of online teaching. Therefore, they are recording videos and sending to the students wherein the sessions are being refrained from getting interactive. The students are reaching out to the teachers only after watching the recorded videos. Some students might not even watch and choose the subjects only which they want. The parents administer the short learning tests that are conducted. Hence, it may lack the worthiness. These schools are also tying up with educational platforms like Byju’s, Oliveboard, Vidyakul, Vedantu and so on. CBSE affiliated schools are mainly focusing on the higher classes for the board examinations. The NCERT books are made available online for the students and online teaching.
Here, everyone needs to understand one thing that learning is not only for earning money or to build a polished exterior. Learning is to become a good human being, a giant of a Woman or a Man, to help remove the sufferings and make this world a better place to live for everyone.
This experience of online education, focused more on learning to build the character first, can be a gift to the students of some schools like Victorious Kidss Educares (VKE), an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Kharadi, Pune. The school’s motto is ‘Learning to Love to Learn’ with the Western sciences coupled with Vedanta. It believes that acquiring information is beneficial only when learning is done in the correct manner. Vedanta’s central idea of learning portrays the culture of knowledge which does not have any barrier for any language or religion. Virtual learning offered by the school even during this pandemic, has been a boon specially for working parents who are now working from home, further helping them to engage the children in such a learning. With this virtual learning, a routine is also maintained. VKE ensures the proper teacher-student ratio even during online classes just like the physical classrooms in school. Each coordinator of every class ensures proper monitoring of the session. All the faculty members of the school have worked very hard so that the students are not deprived of education and ensure that they do not feel isolated during this hardship of life everywhere. VKE believes that the ability for the human brain to develop and gain information is enormous. IB’s vision of learning with the essence of Vedanta deeply incorporates the truth (‘Satya Meva Jayate’) in building the character of a child which polishes not only the exterior but also builds the inner self of a child from its roots. Vedanta, as it says that ‘Shraddha’ (respect) has to be there, be it for a teacher or a book. If ‘Shraddha’ is there, the children can learn to love ‘learning’ in all means; not only to be presentable to the employer but can become an actual achiever in all sectors. Perfection has no limit.
Traditional learning expects the children to sit still while learning but IB has put forth certain structures referring to the gradual brain development of a child. VKE with those guidelines have determined the different learning styles of a child. Parents also need to be trained on that. By the time the kids reach at an age of 6 or 7 years, they become self-discoverers. The Principal of VKE, Mrs. Saarada Ghosh holds meetings regularly with the coordinators and the teachers to take daily updates of the progress. IB curriculum meetings are also held with their extended support. The sessions are very interactive, and students are given breaks just like school.
IB’s 4C framework for mobile learning that includes Content, Compute, Capture and Communicate, is helping both the children and the educators to ensure that nobody is left out from the circle of learning. Learning hence becomes an ocean that does not meet any end or barrier. Since over the past 24 years, VKE has been following the theory of early child and brain development where the brain neurons of a baby, from the mother’s womb is multiplying at the rate of 250,000 (quarter million) per minute. It is believed that we need to place that much of nutrition of data to the brains and if not, the brain neurons would be lost and dull by the age of six years.
n addition, VKE regularly updates the parents and the guardians via email. The IT cell’s contact is provided so that both the students and the teachers can reach out for any technical difficulty. The homeroom teacher’s number is also provided for assistance if any student cannot attend any session.
The third-party applications are gradually becoming infamous for students worldwide. So VKE uses simple apps which are connected easily irrespective of the platform a smartphone or a computer uses. Apps like Google Classrooms, Managebac and ERP are really helping the VKE family including the students to stay connected through live streaming, pre-recorded videos of flipped and physical classrooms and many more. VKE curriculum along with IB remains aligned with the Indian National Curriculum and extended internationally. Unlike CBSE, VKE does not depend on only traditional textbooks. The teachers at VKE have designed their online learning sessions with the objective of engaging students constructively in their learning process. The lessons are planned and scheduled keeping in mind every age group’s attention span. Creative worksheets on respective units, interactive sessions on visual prompts, brainstorming sessions and appreciating a literary piece, are all effective with VKE’s virtual learning. While some schools have complained about how children are being disrespectful towards their teachers, VKE has ensured to make the sessions engaging, fun filled and actual learning platforms for students. Since online learning is the new normal, inspiring ‘Learning to Love to Learn’, VKE continues to discover more ways to ensure that learning goes on in an increasingly progressive way and provide the best possible learning experiences for students. However, the parents were in a dilemma initially as to whether the virtual learning would benefit at all. Nevertheless, gradually they are also getting accustomed and being patient with this new normal. After a few sessions, now they are also convinced that the kids of VKE belong to another world of teaching and learning of IB philosophy, coupled with Vedanta. Mother-toddler live streaming sessions are also conducted by early years’ specialists.
Some students might miss their peers but at the same time, they feel that they are eventually completing more during this time. The kids at VKE feel that during this uncertainty where they are witnessing a global state of utter confusion, something as habitual as seeing their teachers explaining the theory of evolution and esterification gives them an invaluable sense of security and comfort.
VKE believes that intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. The students have taken it upon themselves to make the most of the pandemic, culminating an obstacle into an opportunity. Learning must continue with VKE’s champions with a calm state of mind who would further face all the challenges, yet with a smile. Thus, VKE has taken advantage of the technological advancements ensuring the learning does not suffer even during this alarming global standstill. Every student from kindergarten to senior year, looks forward to learning something new every day with the online classes. These kids are on the path of becoming the actual flag bearers of tomorrow overcoming the hurdles in life and reflecting all the positivity in future.