12 Oct 2020 21:33 IST

Teachers need to make mentorship a priority in virtual classrooms

Educators play a pivotal role in improving student’s emotional well-being and retaining learning interest

The Covid-19 pandemic will always be remembered for the major developments it caused in the education sector. Who knew that regular schooling, college lectures, management classes, and internships would shift online overnight, paving the way for blended learning in the traditional educational institutions. This has marked a major change in the academic structure for good.

While some educational institutes instantly adapted to change and stayed relevant, the others became irrelevant with time. Since the lockdown was first imposed until now, most educational institutes have started periodic training of teaching faculty, scouting for technology partners or consultants, and implementing technology in phases for better online learning.

Online learning is now the new world order for academia around the world. The temporary closure of traditional classrooms was not easy, as educational institutes had to rethink different modes of delivering the syllabus, and assessment for their students within a stipulated time. A key challenge that most teaching faculty faced was the dire need of technological efficiency during this transition.

To provide quality education while maintaining relevance and momentum, many educational institutes adapted simple user interface technology to sustain the active participation of students during online classes. Most teachers started learning from their experience of using online tools and platforms. At an individual level, teachers made a come back with a fresh approach to make classes interesting, engaging and meaningful while also helping students with their queries. Teachers solved internet connectivity glitches and ensured regular learning.

Making the crisis an opportunity, B-Schools groomed their students through online international industry guest sessions, virtual internships, and live case study workshops/competitions.

Today we have the new touchpoints for teachers and learners, which have the potential to evolve with time, thus making education holistic and learning — a joy, in today’s new normal.

Stepping up the digital infrastructure

The first step for seamless online classes is re-purposing digital infrastructure or re-inventing existing platforms. It is equally important to provide the teaching faculty with the right digital infrastructure for delivering lectures online.

Training resources for seamless adoption

Learning and development of teaching faculty in view of new online teaching methods is only possible with training workshops from time to time. The educational institutions can conduct virtual training sessions to help teachers get acquainted with the new platforms.

Priming teacher-student communication

Creating interesting role plays and interactions between the teaching professor and students could make for a lively virtual classroom learning.

Professors have to prioritise learning goals in sync with the course structure; adopt a more robust approach to connect with students by creating relateable narratives with current scenarios.

Learning is not linear; every student goes through a different process of learning. By making teachers adept with audio-visual communications, it could help illustrate theory with practical examples and improve the overall learning experience.

Mentoring young minds

These are unprecedented times for every individual with a stressful impact on students and their well-being. To overcome this challenge, teachers may have to mentor students to help regain their interest in learning even in digital classrooms. To initiate this process, teachers will have to conduct surveys and feedback sessions to identify areas that learners might be facing difficulty in.

While students are still gripping the changes in the education system, teachers are also following up and keeping pace with the evolving digital platforms. It is important that we focus on training our teachers too. By doing so, we are taking definite measures to recover from obstacles that may hinder the learning process.

The new normal is making learning practical and more interesting. The blended learning will synchronise technology with education and add more learning programmes to study, equipping students with the knowledge required to tackle the challenges of the newly emerging world.

(The author is Group Director, Welingkar Institute of Management.)

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