Educating At Home: #OnlineLearning

While workplaces were quick to switch to the #WorkFromHome model, the same needs to be replicated for education.

The emergence and subsequent outbreak of COVID-19 has globally compelled all of us to take a pause; thereby pushing us to change our lifestyle and the way we work and learn. Schools, colleges and universities have witnessed closures. Most governments around the world and in India have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a result, learning reached a halt.  

According to UNESCO (as of 8th April 2020), there are more than 1.5 billion affected learners in 188 country-wide closures. In India, according to available data, these nationwide closures are impacting over 91.3 per cent of the total enrolled learners. While workplaces were quick to switch to the #WorkFromHome model, the same needs to be replicated for education, we need to find creative ways to pivot and not pause. 

Educational institutions, most of which have an EdTech integration in their learning modules these days are ahead of the curve and already adapted to a completely online teaching mode (#remotelearning, #homelearning, #remoteteaching) to resume steady learning at home for the interim, with support from parents and guardians. For example, educator Alexander Johnson (@alexrajohnson) from American School of Bombay (@ASBIndia) defines it “Home Learning is teacher-guided and parent supported”. 

Amid these unprecedented times, the borderless nature of Twitter has proven to be an extraordinary opportunity; empowering teachers, school heads, students above the age of 13, and parents to interact and engage among each other. From Announcing postponement of examinations, to discussing new assessment methodologies, updating on availability of online resources and tools, surveys, launching online tutorials and courses, and more — it has become an indispensable resource. Schools, teachers and parents are leveraging Twitter to ensure the learning experience goes on, without or without a physical campus.  

Here is how remote learning is made easy with Twitter  

Learning beyond the classroom 

Tweet chats (using hashtags) are a great way to exchange experiences, thoughts, ideas, challenges within the community, especially because Twitter has a good mix of schools that are early adopters of EdTech, some who are getting there and a few who can be termed as EdTech amateurs. This healthy representation across the spectrum enables peer learning on the service, as they can now jointly resolve a lot of queries to strengthen their transition to online teaching and learning.  

In fact, @SLNIndia along with @TwitterIndia conducted several #EdTweet conversations for parents and teachers on topics such as juggling between work, children and family, home learning amid the lockdown, what’s working and what isn’t, and reinventing a new education ecosystem once the situation gets better. 

Embracing new frontiers of learning 

We have been witnessing various educators taking to Twitter to share their best practices in the ongoing circumstances. This open and democratic access to information delivered directly from the source helps fellow educators as they are all treading a new pathway. This is enabled further as there is no other social media platform which allows them this range and scale of global collaboration and connection. Many schools/NGOs have also leveraged the service to share their own-developed resources with other schools such as American School of Bombay (@ASBIndia), Education Above All Foundation (@EAA_Foundation), and Wide Open School (@WideOpenSchool). 

Enabling open and real-time access among stakeholders 

Twitter allows educators to share their thoughts and reviews on various EdTech tools available currently for online teaching, which in turn, benefits the learning community worldwide. They are also able to connect to EdTech companies and have their queries responded directly and transparently. This is a strong web of collaboration which finally benefits all. 

Seeking best advice, from all parts of the world 

Educators globally had begun the journey of online teaching at varied time periods. Hence, their experiences on the learning techniques, schedules, tools to use, online classroom management strategies all have evolved from context to context. Educators have taken on the role of online tutors and Twitter as a learning tool has enabled them to reach to online professionals globally. Educators have access to such learnings from various parts of the words and have gained a lot of value from them. Parents have also been able to share the experiences of their children’s online learning led by the schools and the community through Twitter. DMs are proving to be an effective way of clarifying doubts.  

Building a sense of community 

Educators, schools and their stakeholders have started developing strong bonding among themselves and feel a sense of community and belonging through Twitter. They are learning together and reflecting in the Twitterverse. Some examples are Indirapuram Group of Institutions (@IprmGrp), ShishuVihar School (@ShishuViharIND), Indian High School, Dubai (@IndianHigh_DXB), and Heritage Xperiential (@heritage_ggn). 

Evolving with online courses 

Since educators are currently at home, they are venturing into delivering online courses for students and parents. In this respect, Twitter is proving to be a dynamic professional development platform. For example, Swaroop Rawal (@yoswaroop), a teacher, social worker and artist have started 21 days online course on Life skills enhancement during the #CovidLockdown. (#21dayslifeskillchallenge). Post-Lockdown 2.0 was announced till 3rd May 2020, Swaroop (@yoswaroop) extended her #LifeSkillsChallenge involving family games, demonstrating it with her own family members @adityarawal1, @SirPareshRawal and Anirudha. She prefers going live on Twitter as it’s more user-friendly, direct & easier; rather than sharing a link of a video uploaded in another platform. 

Pro Tip: To go Live on Twitter, anyone can follow these simple steps. 

Empowering with access and transparency 

The uniquely open and real-time nature of Twitter enables policymakers and education boards to officially and yet transparently communicate with the learning audiences, seek the opinion of educators & parents and share credible and useful information. Education Boards/Depts. such as Cambridge Assessment International Education (@CambridgeInt), Central Board of Secondary Education (@cbseindia29), and International Baccalaureate (@iborganization) actively use Twitter to engage and share the learnings. The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of india (@HRDMinistry) also uses a hashtag #BharatPadheOnline on Twitter to generate responses/suggestions for online learning.  

Some important announcements tweeted by Policymakers/education boards include the postponement of CBSE (@cbseindia29), Varsha Gaikwad (@VarshaEGaikwad) Minister Of Education Department, Maharashtra announcing the decision regarding the demand of school fees from students and parents for schools, International Baccalaureate (@iborganization) sharing their new guidance on internal assessment for online education continuity, etc.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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