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The coronavirus lessons in schooling: In line with online

Technology is here to stay; it should be gainfully embraced and fear of it replacing the teacher has to be shunned. We must understand that education cannot work without human touch.

Dr Priyanka Mehta

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‘God please reboot 2020…it has a virus!’

The line went viral while we wondered how we would be seen rebooted. As we all make an enormous effort to survive the Covid-19 days, we have to admit that a lot of things shall never be the same. Amongst these, schools in particular shall witness a huge transformation, both structurally and intellectually. Change is not the word here; it’s an evolution of learning that we shall be experiencing. We are definitely looking at “disruptive education models of learning”, so to say, but this disruption is welcome for various reasons.

We used to continuously envision a future with more and more advanced technology and pedagogy. However, we now realise we are already in the future and all of what we do today to realise it shall transform what we face in years to come.

Before the Covid-19 epidemic, everything seemed just about perfect. It took a virus to stop us from being complacent on issues that should have been concerns. Today we realise, especially in the arena of education, that what we were doing, thinking it was right, was rather anchored in the past centuries and failed to successfully address the digital age whose pervasiveness was fully realised only now. Therefore, we needed to break free from a few established models and redesign our teaching and learning. This sudden change has redefined our classrooms and lessons. In addition, it has made us tech-confident. We are all customising education to adapt it to the needs of the child and the times. It speaks volumes about how teachers have adopted and adapted to technology which was formerly presumed to be a huge threat. This comes with both pros and cons that have challenged educators to now focus on the micro-details.

The first set of challenges starts with our failure to demarcate the use of technology to teach versus innovative tech-based teaching. A common mistake here is to imitate the physical infrastructure and design of the school and classroom during online classes. The online classroom is neither a normal classroom nor similar to home-schooling, and teachers and parents do not have to compare the situations. The content creation for the online teaching-learning process has to be different from our normal lesson plans. We shall fail miserably in delivery of content and engagement unless we add innovation and creativity to it. A lot of educators tend to be omitting this detail and of course then, the results are not encouraging.

Once we have handled the content, assessment presents the next hurdle. For once in ages, it brings me pleasure that we will be redesigning assessment. This was long due and has set the course for innovation, creativity and digitisation. We also know that school is not just about books and assessments. But the importance of acting upon such knowledge has become crucial for educators now, since rather than the routine enrichment classes and activities in the child’s day that often made an impact only on the timetables, lovely modules are being planned and delivered to suit the customisations of a digital learning space that keeps the child engaged and involved. We need to align ourselves with the idea that online is the best option as of now, so let’s create some magic there.

Another concern that we are all struggling with is the increasing screen time. Well, we will have to manage that. We have to differentiate between the essential screen time and the nonessential one. Parents will have to accept the responsibility of being facilitators at home and step in to moderate the child’s daily routine. Just like the way we manage the diet plans. The schools must plan synchronous and asynchronous modules to maintain a balance.

 A big challenge staring right at us is how the schools will be like when they reopen requiring huge deliberation and pre-emptive planning. This pandemic has thrown open new areas of concern which test the strength and sincerity of management, staff and every other person involved in running a school. We need to think about how to transport kids to schools, levels of sanitisation, classroom seating, assemblies, activities, etc, while observing physical distancing all this time. Schools have to gear up for huge investments, both in terms of training and infrastructure. We are human-loaded organisations, a place where sharing and caring have been propagated for ages. What is the new normal going to be? A tough, impending question.

One mistake that schools must not commit is go back to the old ways of teaching and learning. We must consider this as training for the future and making up for past inefficiencies. This will be the new benchmark and we will have to consciously create it. Technology is here to stay and must be gainfully embraced and fear of it replacing the teacher has to be shunned — education cannot work without human touch. The position of the teacher cannot be undermined, for technology cannot bridge the gaps and build relationships like a teacher can. Let us also not forget that schools have been working while everything else closed down. A one-hour class needs hours of preparation, resources, sacrifice of precious family time and a lot of courage besides shuffling tasks at home. It is not easy. Teaching is serious business and education is essential to life. There are no options here. Parents will have to understand this stage of metamorphosis and be careful about jumping to conclusions and judgements. Gaps will be there but hopefully not for long.

Experiential learning will continue to be inevitable. In days to come, we shall welcome back a group of children with high anxiety levels, technology prone, dependent and possibly lazy — the levels varying tremendously. This in itself will be a task to handle. With the social and emotional quotients visibly low, the balancing will have to be brought in slowly but consciously. This will require sensory-based immersive teaching processes. We will have to work on the 4Rs in learning — Restructure, Redesign, Reimagine and Reinvent. Standardisation shall not work.

We are looking at a whole new school culture here. The teacher will have to lead this change and the parent has to scaffold it.

The writer is director principal, Sarvottam International School, Greater Noida West

Educationally Speaking

HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE

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Hiring activity in India rose by 24% in September 2020 as compared to August 2020, as seen in the Naukri JobSpeak Index. At 1755, the job index marked a great improvement of 24% in September as against 1413 in August after the sharp drop in April 2020 due to Covid-19. “The last quarter has seen significant uptick in the hiring activity, growing at 14% compared to 8% decline in AMJ’ 20. While the hiring is yet to touch last year levels and is down by 23% in Sept’20 versus Sept’19 but this is also a marked recovery from a 35%-60% decline that we have witnessed in the last few months,” Pawan Goyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com The 24% M-O-M growth is being propelled by industries like Pharma (+44%), FMCG (+43%), Education/Teaching (+41%) and IT (+32%). Further opening up of the economy with unlock measures and increased mobility has led to an improvement in hiring activities in industries like Real Estate (+44%), Auto/Ancillary (+29%) and Hospitality/Travel (+48%) versus August’20.

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Educationally Speaking

‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’

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The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow schools in different states to reopen from 15 October depending on the state government’s decision, but as per a study by SP Robotics Works from last month named ‘Kids under Covid’, 78% parents are ready to skip a school year, but not ready to send their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sudden transition to online learning and prolonged screen time with no outdoor play and limited social interaction, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown on children’s mental and physical health remains dubious. To arrive at the insights of this survey, SP Robotic Works conducted a survey over the month of July and August among 3600 parents and an equal number of children in the age group of 7-17 years

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ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW

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Indian Army has invited applications for SSC Officer posts. Candidates who are interested can apply at joinindianarmy.nic.in. The number of positions vacant positions is 191 posts. Candidates can apply till November 12, 2020. Unmarried male and unmarried female engineering graduates, final-year engineering students can apply. The course will start in April 2021 at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Opening date of application is 14 October, 202, while closing date of application is 12 November 2020. Candidates will be put through two-stage selection procedure. Those who clear Stage-1 will go to Stage-2. Those who fail in Stage-1 will be returned on the same day.

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Educationally Speaking

JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED

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Jamia Hamdard has extended the last date to fill and submit the online admission form to 25 October. Earlier, the last date of application form 2020 submission was 20 September. Candidates who wish to take admissions to UG and PG courses offered by the university can fill the Jamia Hamdard application form 2020 till the new extended deadline. Candidates must note that they also have to upload their qualifying examination mark sheet while filling the application form. Students who have passed class 12th exam can apply for its UG courses while those having a bachelor’s degree can apply for its PG courses. Aspirants can apply for admission to the university online at jamiahamdard.edu. This year, the admission process has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The admission form submission deadline was extended as there were many students who were seeking admissions in engineering and diploma courses but were not able to fill out the forms timely

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Educationally Speaking

EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the newly built Golden Jubilee Building of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, on Tuesday through a virtual platform. Speaking at the occasion he said that NIT Rourkela is a premier institution of our country and has been producing the best brains for the country. The newly constructed NIT Rourkela building is a symbol of the varsity’s prestige. Pokhriyal said that institutions like NIT Rourkela have a very important role to play in the implementation of the New Educational Policies (NEP). The minister also added the building amplifies the glory of Rourkela city as it is one of the tallest buildings around. The magnificent structure is indeed metaphorically and geographically, ‘the heart of NIT Rourkela’, added Pokhriyal. The minister also highlighted that the vision of having this building will fulfill one of the essential mottos of the Institute to enhance efficiency in the administrative functioning and amalgamate technology with this process to make it more people-friendly.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

Narendra Shyamsukha

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The Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organisations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As most people still stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted, there has been a shift to a space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organisations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organisations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive as compared to those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship are adjusting the “new normal”:

THE AGE OF WEBINARS

As live conferences and face to face engagement activities take a backset, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

INCREASED USAGE OF DATA ANALYTICS

In a digital age, data analytics has always been a valuable proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organisations now need to create valuable databases, analyse them and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking pattern of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analysing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be totally promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

The writer is founder & chairman, ICA Edu Skills.

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