Attributed to Ms.  Preethaa Ganesh, Vice President Vels Group of Institutions, ONLINE EDUCATION Chennai

With more courses being offered online, online learning is shaping into the new normal in the education space. The strengths and limitations of the new virtual learning should be clearly understood by the students and the parents to make the best use of the model. It requires a lot of self-regulated learning skills. The Gen Z kids are by and large ‘tech-savvy’ and they seem to have taken birth with an innate knowledge of gadgets and we cannot bring that as a requisite for online learning. Whereas, for teachers, basic understanding of learning the software and constantly updating themselves about the new learning tools launched in the market will certainly help in making the optimum use of technology and the learning process.

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Technology is the basis on which online education is making its way through the education sector. In the age of ‘democratization of knowledge’, knowledge is available free of cost and this includes the online tools developed and offered free of cost to learning community. With a simple gadget like a tablet or Android mobile, PC and an internet connection online learning can be initiated. The Covid-19 situation has compelled the whole world to move towards online platforms for ‘teaching-learning’ and made it the norm of the day.

An array of online platforms such as Google classrooms, Edmodo, etc., help students and teachers to provide a basic structure to organize the material based on its nature. Speaking of physical environment, it is very similar to the brick mortar model classrooms where even in virtual classrooms, the study area should be properly ventilated, well-lit to avoid straining the eye and possibly a quiet place with minimum or no distractions from outside. The seating arrangements should support long hours of engagement with a little table space to keep the device, a notepad and a pen. From a teacher’s perspective, a properly charged laptop or a smart phone with a power backup to support long hours of teaching and the seating arrangement close to the power points will ensure in uninterrupted engagement with the online lessons.

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Agreeably, there are ups and downs when it comes to the new normal for studying, however a certain approach to the academic delivery does make online classes a fruitful one.  Listed below are some of the methods that students can adopt in order to maximise online education –

  • A reliable tracker: If the classes are taking place on a live platform, there are chances for the students to turn off their feeds and choose not be attentive. Hence, a platform that tracks the real time presence of the student during the lecture will be a great tool for teachers to monitor their student’s attentiveness.
  • Let go of the traditional lesson plan: Lesson plans that are best fit for traditional academic delivery is close to obsolete now. Revise your delivery plan to take full advantage of the online medium. Create or partner to provide students with quality content during the lectures to keep their attention on the subject. Interviews, animations, explainer videos, info graphs and interactive learning platforms must find more space in the lesson plan than regular lectures.
  • Divide and Conquer: Break every topic or concept into smaller parts while teaching as the attention span of every child varies. Not every student can find the most comfortable designated study space during online programmes to keep them focused only on the lesson. If there are 10 distractions for a student in a classroom learning, there will be 20 during home based learning. Keep a continuous tab on them through engagement activities. It could be as simple as a subject quiz in between lessons for students to compete throughout the 10 sessions. Competitiveness always outweighs procrastination at school. If planted right, it works wonders for home-based learning.
  • Time Management: It stands out to be the most important requirement to make best use of the online learning model. As adults, we know for how many MOOC courses we enrol and how many we complete. Students should be good in ‘self-management’ and must be available for the lessons at least 2 or 3 min early. Must go through the ‘prior learning’ material shared to them by the teachers (as in many case, the online learning is used as flipped classrooms). The biggest strength of online learning is ‘self-paced’ learning, so the students should revisit the learning material (both static and dynamic contents) till they understand the concepts thoroughly.

If the students don’t understand any concept, they can immediately share their queries with their tutors without even making it known to other fellow students, this ‘sense of anonymity‘ is normally not available in a traditional classroom setup. Parents should not complete the tasks for their wards as this will be counter-productive and defeats the main objective of the tool.

Note-taking, using graphic organizers, reflection journals, etc. should be used by students irrespective of the learning modes that they use. These time tested and research based frameworks will increase the engagement level of the students and keep them self-motivated to engage in the learning process effectively as the element of ‘inquiry’ and ‘reflection’ will help the students cultivate a sense of ownership for their learning and will understand that online tools, online learning material and the tutors are only ‘facilitating’ this process.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some best study practices that are worth mentioning are:

  • Reflect after each study session
    • What are my key takeaways?
    • What do I need to review or learn next time?
  • Get A Good Night’s Sleep
    • Students of all ages should get at least eight hours of sleep every school night. It may be tempting to stay up late during this lockdown binge-watching Netflix, but good sleep comes a long way in improving memory and leading to better results.
  • Study At The Right Time
    • Every student has his own preference – some are more productive in the morning whereas some prefer studying in the night.

As children adapt to this novel way of learning, parents should take an active role in their child’s learning and ensure a smooth journey with the online classes. Finally, it is absolutely necessary that parents constantly encourage children and enable them to stay positive while their children are still adjusting to the new format of education and life as a whole.

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