The worst impacted in the pandemic and the resulting lockdown are the marginalised communities. Living in extremely small houses in densely populated areas with no concept of social distancing their very survival is at stake. Further with the continued lock down the communities stare at starvation as they are not able to earn their livelihood. Given the scenario, even though the parents of Aseema’s children are aware of the importance of education, continued learning of the children has taken a back seat.
Realising the seriousness of the situation Aseema had taken on the task of ensuring that the education of the children and their resultant future is not compromised. Since April 2020, the teachers began conducting pilot online lessons for Standard IX students.
In order to ensure that the learning curve of our students is uninterrupted, we restructured our curriculum and adopted remote learning classes for all students at Aseema. However, the pandemic also saw us staring at the glaring digital divide in education. The shift from physical classes to the online classes intensified the challenges our students face in terms of access to quality education.
From 15th June onwards we began online lessons for all the children from Pre-Primary to Standard X across our schools. Realising the lim and Google Classroom in the morning and children have the flexibility to work through them at any time during the day.
In order to ensure that our students are able to access their online classes over the past six months we worked on bridging this gap and have distributed smartphones in a phased manner with priority given to the secondary section students. However, we yet have to reach out to many more students.
Going forward we plan to shift in a phased manner from asynchronous to a synchronous teaching model via Google Meet and Google Classroom for classes starting from Standard X and moving down to Standard V. Synchronous teaching requires students to be online at a fixed time which many who are currently using their parent’s phones will be unable to do. Hence the need for the phones has increased further.
While many of our staff members did not have access to laptops, they have continued reaching out to our students using their smartphones. This has been extremely challenging and we bow to their commitment and dedication in these incredibly difficult times. Hence equipping our staff with laptops is a pressing need. This will not only make our remote learning programme much more effective but will also drastically reduce the challenges they face. The laptops will also play a vital role in making synchronous teaching more interactive and engaging.
As we move ahead, we realise that the pandemic has reimagined learning and we foresee the shift in education towards a blended learning model. Blended learning (also known as hybrid learning) is a method of teaching that integrates technology and digital media with traditional instructor-led classroom activities, giving students more flexibility to customize their learning experiences. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the ways in which instructional technologies can be blended into a teacher’s pedagogical approach. Aseema’s education approach has always laid emphasis on critical thinking and on giving children opportunities to think, question and explore. The blended learning model would lend itself beautifully and will make learning more enriching.
The flipped classroom, for example, is one type of blended learning model in which students view lecture material prior to class, then spend class time engaging in exercises under the supervision of the teacher. We are committed to empowering our teachers and students with the tools and knowledge for a brighter future by increasing digital accessibility to the marginalised communities in Mumbai and Igatpuri.
Additionally, given the economic conditions of our students and some of our teachers, it is also imperative that we provide them with internet data packs to help them sustain their remote learning classes.
In order to assist and guide the teachers to adapt to this new structure of teaching, the computer teachers at Aseema have been conducting regular training for teachers across our schools. However, as we gradually scale up our remote learning programme we would require to hire a dedicated IT person to help support the online teaching and learning.
As we move ahead in this journey, we reach out to you to contribute to the upliftment of the marginalised communities.