The Demented E-Learning on WhatsApp during Lockdown and it’s Solutions
In their defense they can say that they were not ready for this. To be fair, no one could have anticipated a catastrophe of this level. The Covid-19 pandemic has not only shaken up the global economy but it has also altered people’s lives for good. The entire urban population of India has been confined within the boundaries of their homes and the use of internet has increased exponentially, in the last couple of months.
The social media is pitted with hashtags like “work from home”, “stay at home”, and “school from home” etc. However, how much learning is actually happening is a different matter altogether. 97% of the Indian schools are not equipped with proper Learning Management System to support a holistic online teaching and that fact is taking its toll on the teachers and also on the learners. Being unable to combat the drastic nature of the crisis many schools have resorted to WhatsApp to deliver their digital learning materials. Whilst WhatsApp is a superb app for digital communication it essentially fails to meet the pedagogical expectations and the learning goals of the Indian teachers and students.
What not to Expect from WhatsApp Schools:
The reality of online teaching in India is being brutally exposed during this global pandemic. The schools, with no other suitable alternative available to them, are resorting to opening separate WhatsApp groups catering to each subject taught in each of the classes. So for example, for a particular school we have separate Physics WhatsApp Group for Class IX and a separate Geography WhatsApp Group for the same class and so on for each subject for each of the classes in the entire school.
That essentially means that a student has to register in 9 to 10 different WhatsApp Groups in order to carry on with his/her online classes. If that doesn’t sound hassling enough then consider the amount of notification that the student will receive on a daily basis. The teachers are making Power Point Presentation Videos on each lecture and sending them in the respective WhatsApp Group. However, with the lack of proper discussion board all the students are being forced to carry on with the conversations, queries, and answers in the same WhatsApp group. Now imagine the peril the student is in of missing out on important lecturers and discussions made by the teacher. Each time, he/she needs to scroll up and down the entire conversation to find out what is going on.
The risk on the part of the teacher is even more. He/she cannot actually be certain whether all of the learners or in fact any of them have actually gone through the presentation through its entirety. There is no statistics available to the teacher to ascertain whether the students have read the Power Point Presentations or even if they have for how long have they read it. They are not sure whether the students completed the lecture or properly comprehended the same. As a result the online teaching practice of India is in total disarray.
So, what is the solution?
In order to conduct a proper e-learning curriculum all the schools need to host their lecturers on a sound Learning Management System. An advanced Learning Management System will enable the teachers to obtain accurate statistics pertaining to the online lecturers and the courses and the extent of student engagement. They will get to know whether or not each and every student of the class has completed the course and also how long each of the students had watched the lecture presentation. As a result, they will also get to know which of the students are getting more engaged and which ones need proper attention. Due to the lack of the physical interactions many teachers are now not being able to segregate the less attentive students from the rest. However, that can also be achieved through technologies like Learning Management System. With the help of the engagement statistics the teachers now can narrow down on the progress of each and every student based on the learner engagement figures. The teacher will get regular update about information about all the individual students and accordingly they can act.
The communication is also much structured in a Learning Management System. There is a separate discussion board adhered to each lecture wherein the teachers and the students can post their comments, queries, and answers. This discussion board becomes a digital knowledge bank for the students to refer to, later on during the time of the exams. Unlike in a WhastApp group a student does not have to hunt for the communication but rather it will be accessible to him/her whenever he/she needs.
Apart from that, the teachers can also take quizzes and assignments with each and every lecture and accordingly can grade the students on the basis of that. This offers a complete comprehensive learning environment supported by technology. The teachers can not only take quizzes and assessments at the end of each lecture but they can also take a final assessment at the end of each course. So, in that way the Learning Management System will effectively replicate all the offline learning activities into an online platform. Consequently students will not have to scroll down and hunt for the previous lecturers and will get enough time and opportunity to complete each of the assessments.
A Learning Management System can also send common notifications to the email ids of each of the parents and the teachers do not have to rely on Google Classrooms to do that. So, instead of fiddling with multiple platforms and technologies an Indian school now can trust on a single platform from where they can achieve all the learning goals.
The best part is that the schools do not have to do anything on their part. They do not need to spend additional time on hosting or designing the online version of their academies. Once they purchase a Learning Management System everything else falls in place. The teachers just need to carry on uploading the same Power Point Presentation Videos, like they are doing now, in the form of lecturers under each Chapter of a Course. And they can continue doing so until and unless that Chapter ends because there is no limit to the number of lecturers that can be added by each teacher.
Where can they get a Learning Management System?
The signs are still pretty ominous and it is unlikely that schools will get to reopen 5 days a week any time soon, like they used to operate before. However, instead of depending on make-shift adjustments in the form of WhatsApp the Indian schools must seriously consider a Learning Management System as their alternative.
Normally a Learning Management System is very expensive and quite rightly so. The average yearly price of a Learning Management System is more than INR 100,000
However, CreateOnlineAcademy.com is an India-made international level Software as a Service for a Learning Management System and they are making a unique offer just for the Indian schools to avail the same service for just INR 20,000 per year. In this package, an Indian school can add up to 100 teachers and register up to 5000 learners. In an attempt to make India self-dependent CreateOnlineAcademy.com has taken an oath to help the Indian education system to realize the next level of digital education. Even after this pandemic is over an online presence will become mandatory for all the Indian schools. India has entered the digital age and it is about time the schools also do the same because they are the ones who create the foundation for the next generation.