COVID-19 Lockdown: Schools Innovate To Remain Connected

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The entire world is staring down the coronavirus pandemic with uncertainty. The lockdown is on. Very rightly, there is extreme caution in the air. We will be very lucky if the situation normalizes by April 14. The lockdown may go on for weeks and months.
Because of the lockdown, it is very difficult to predict how long the 2020 summer holidays will continue for schools and higher education

institutions. The young minds are precious; it is important their energies are harnessed well during these trying times. They are impressionable and it is very easy for them to indulge in negativity and inertia. The need of the hour is to nudge them into something meaningful and productive and make the best out of the unexpected break. That will be smart choice for them.

Some of the smart and progressive private schools all over the country have started online home schooling. Many others are working towards the same. Even some frontline schools in Odisha have embarked on the same, or are seriously considering to get started. Top schools like Doon School, Dehradun, and Mayo College, Ajmer, are involved in multiple technology-driven initiatives to continue the routine of students without disruption. However, everyone is experimenting and evolving at the same time.

Doon School has over the years, constantly innovated and demonstrated technology leadership. Headmaster in-charge of Doon School Kamal Ahuja summarizes the approach aptly, “We have begun online interaction with our students as part of distance learning at this stage. Our teachers are interacting through Google Classroom and other GSuite apps. The system we are putting in place for learning and teaching will evolve and change over the next few weeks and will be different for each
class as well as subject.”

Many schools can take a leaf out of such initiatives and adapt to this unprecedented situation. Many edtech companies in the country are also enabling online video classes.

There are another set of schools, which continue to engage with students by emailing them projects, assignments and homework to maintain the tempo, especially for classes that are meant to appear in board exams (Class X and XII) next year. These schools focus on keeping the students academically involved and will focus on completing the courses when the schools reopen. If the schools get locked down for months, there is a good chance that these schools will also move to other, more connected online tools.

At the other end of the spectrum are schools (which includes a majority of government schools) where neither the teachers nor students may have an opportunity to engage gainfully during this break. In such situations, it is very critical that parents make efforts to channelize the boundless energy of kids into a positive direction. Such students and parents can take advantage of a large repository of online homeschooling/ self-learning tools (both free and paid). An illustrative list of some of such tools are:

Online resources:

–       BrainPop

–       Curiosity Stream

–       Tynker

–       Outschool

–       Udemy

–       iReady

–       Beast Academy (Math)

–       Khan Academy

–       Creative Bug

–       Discovery Education

·      YouTube Channels:

–       Crash Course Kids

–       Science Channel

–       SciShow Kids

–       National Geographic Kids

–       Free School

–       Geography Focus

–       TheBrainScoop

–       SciShow

–       Kids Learning Tube

–       Geeek Gurl Diaries

–       Mike Likes Science

–       Science Max

–       SoulPancake

These include, lots of board games, library books (and Kindle), tinkering with household junk, etc.

 

(The author is a Bhubaneswar-based edtech entrepreneur and start-up mentor)

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