In times of COVID-19, teachers find creative ways to engage students online

Abha Goradia
BMC schools, bmc schools online study, coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, coronavirus lockdown, coronavirus india lockdown, indian express news

Since then, a slew of ideas have been implemented by some teachers, and the department has upped its use of existing digital platforms. (Representational Photo)

With schools shut due to the COVID-19, teachers of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Schools are exploring creative ways to keep students engaged in academic activities online. The activities are being designed in a way that they are easily accessible over android phones, which parents of most children have, as well as through commonly used apps. Last week, on Saturday, BMC education officer Mahesh Palkar used Zoom, a platform for video and audio conferencing to tell teachers to use technology to ensure regular communication with students and encourage learning, even though final exams for Class I to VIII have been cancelled.

Since then, a slew of ideas have been implemented by some teachers, and the department has upped its use of existing digital platforms.

“In the meeting, we discussed a range of platforms that can be used to connect with students,” said professor and technical assistant Madhukar Bhosle. “The department has been training teachers in the use of technology for some time now, and at this point, it has come to the rescue. Many teachers have learnt to create videos. Even if each of them create a few, we can prepare a repository of such resources.”

The department has been using Telegram, a chat platform where circulars, directions, suggestions and links to various educational resources are shared with the teachers. Vrushali Khadye, a class V teacher in BMC's Pachpaoli School, Powai, got her students to make a video on coronavirus by giving them verified information, which was then uploaded to a YouTube channel. Khadye also assigns daily homework on the WhatsApp group, which is then photographed by students and shared. “Through photo editing tools, I then mark the answers and give them feedback,” she said. Out of total 34 students in her class, she has managed to get responses of over 12 students to the tests prepared by her on Google forms, and everyday more students join. “50 per cent students have the facility to use WhatsApp, and I connect with the rest through calls, or by connecting through neighbours. Parents send me videos of them studying, and doing the assigned activities,” she said.

A class VI teacher at a corporation school in Govandi, Mohammad Zeeshan runs two YouTube channels for his students, and his blog, My Digital Classroom, features material like flashcards on different objects, posts on topics such as how to make PowerPoint presentations, obtaining medical cards, using Digilockers, among other things.

“Kaun Banega Gyanpati” is a series of question papers that Zeeshan has uploaded on his blog as well.

“The multiple choice question paper gives four options for each question. After they submit all answers, it gives them the right ones so they can see how much they have scored. It also has the option to re-appear for the test. So far, the tests have been attempted 85 times. Studying through links to informative E-balbharti lessons are encouraged by many teachers.

Pooja Sankhe, a teacher in BMC’s Bandra East school, who got a Best Teacher award last year, ensures her students continue speaking to Amazon Alexa. Sankhe had received acclaim for her project in which she installed the entertainment gadget inside a mannequin, along with speakers to make a robot.

Students continue to call her in order to speak to Alexa, and when they do, they are assigned individual based art activities. “I share with them designs that can be made into colourful drawings and music for meditation purposes. Since most of the children live in tiny shanties in slums, they are habituated to venture outside homes. But we need to identify how they can be kept occupied at home,” she said, adding that many students have responded positively to her activity called Tell Your Mom, where students are encouraged to describe how their day was in English.

Nearly 32 students out of 41 in class IV of BMC's Dahisar East school have taken online tests for all subjects. General knowledge tests on Google forms have also been created, apart from assigning learning based activities, said teacher Madhavi Parulkar.

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