Just like I’m writing this article from home, there are a huge number of students who have to study from home. Studying and teaching even inside a school infrastructure can be challenging. Previously, we have written about how the logistics of teaching and learning can be overcome with an education portal. But now the challenges we face are even more challenging.
Schools used to rely on class participation, infrastructural facilities like lab, projectors, library, etc. There used to be a structure to a typical school or college day that would go about. COVID-19 has pronounced school as public places, therefore shutting them down and sending kids home.
The greatest thing about learning at a school is that everyone gets equal facilities. The computers are all the same, the lunch hours are the same, the library is accessible by all, and there is internet access. Moving this entire system home is of course difficult.
The first challenge will come in the form of internet access, and the second in the form of a computer. Even if we assume and these are available, we have to assume they might not be consistent. So what are the changes you can make as an educational institution to make it possible for your students to keep learning and your faculty to keep teaching?
Get a portal.
If you have a portal, modify it to do more than what it is doing right now. It is no longer limited to marking attendance and getting homework assignments. This will mean getting the best of the best.
Let’s do a deep dive into what the portal can do for your institution during this pandemic:
Classes have to be online. But not all classes can take place at a single time for everyone because your students may be in different time zones. So professors also have to have an interface where they can easily record classes, live or otherwise, which can then be stored. The class interface should also have a chat option where students can ask questions and teachers can answer them. This will bring everyone’s experience a little closer to what they used to have in the classrooms.
All assignments are now online. That means it will require an interface that makes it easy for students and professors to interact with or collaborate on assignments. Simply uploading a bunch of questions on a document and getting answers to those is not going to be enough.
So this interface needs to be more interactive. It should allow more formats, like multiple choice questions, longer essays, pop quizzes that are only available for certain hours to ensure participation, etc.
A number of professors have dedicated office hours. This is where they have one on one interaction with students. Here they discuss their assignments, clear doubts that the students have, and guide them in all their academics.
So the education portal needs to have an interface specially designed for this. The professor can feed in their office hours, and the students can see those hours, and request an appointment. The meeting can then be over a video call or a phone call, which can be logged in to the portal.
Since in person exams cannot be held, there needs to be a digital interface for it. This includes pop quizzes, open book exams, and more. Certain measures can be put into it like time limits for each question, only one attempt, etc. can help ensure a smoother anti cheating exam while maintaining the workflow of the school at the same time.
The education portal’s strengths while in use on campus are different than in remote use. While on campus, if there was a flaw, it would be less disadvantageous than if it happened while everyone is accessing it remotely.
As far as the administration of the school is concerned, the portal handles all the things remotely like it did on campus, minus things like classroom allocation, etc.
Professors and admin staff should also have a special interface built in that allows them to have meetings, to keep things running smoothly.
Apart from that, this education portal needs to be lightweight since everyone will not have the kind of internet access that a school does.
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