The education sector has been critically affected by COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, educational institutions are mostly closed. Because of the lack of proper infrastructure, a lot of these institutes are unable to divert to online education resulting in a pause in the system.
All educational institutions have forgone classroom learning since March in Bangladesh, but with timely solutions, some of the schools and universities are offering online classes.
As the students are habituated to face-to-face learning, online classes are challenging. Making distance-learning interactive and engaging is not an easy task to achieve overnight. There is a clear emphasis on IT education in recent years. However, as most students do not own a personal computer, we are still lagging behind. We have issues such as the availability of fast internet or even electricity in some remote locality.
The schools which have initiated online classes are trying hard to engage students as much as they can to keep the education process running. However, without fast adaptability, it will be hard to keep pace with the “new normal”. Students need to be motivated to learn in these challenging times. They need to be focused and able to adapt to the present circumstances. Thus, only taking online classes is not enough. Motivating them on their assignments, giving positive feedback on their creative way of thinking, or inspiring them with success stories are equally important.
Creating global leaders through IB (International Baccalaureate) education, International School Dhaka has taken various initiatives to make their students driven in this challenging time. From a teacher’s perspective, online teaching is not about recreating your existing classroom environment but creating a whole new environment for learning. Since the IB curriculum is inquiry-based learning, it really bodes well for the online platform. Online class engagement occurs through the incorporation of technology in lessons, something the young generations are already comfortable using. It can be difficult to engage students in an online platform, especially when they do not feel involved in the learning environment. Communication apps like Jamboard and Padlet allow students to share their ideas and contribute to the class more effectively and positively. Incorporating off-line activities as part of students’ learning is just as important as online classes. Off-line activities would not only limit their screentime, but it would also add a deeper understanding that in turn drives the next lesson.
When it comes to teaching students, teachers are known to be resilient and innovative problem solvers. Since the onset of online learning, teachers have adapted ways to make the learning process effective for their students. These include tweaking their lessons to fit distance-learning.
No matter how hard one should try, without sound mental health, it is impossible to study and cope during these times. Young minds are creative with boundless dreams. COVID-19 has put a shackle on their feet and their thought process. It is critical to help them with timely solutions, and educators can play a huge role in this case. Schools should also prepare the parents on how to take care of their children during this pandemic so that the mental health of our students is in the best shape even at such an unusual time.
The writer is the Department Head, Science, International School Dhaka.
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