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The New Normal Teaching and Learning Experience

“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.”
– H. Hayes Jacobs

In the past few weeks, all our lives have changed in ways that we never expected and it has made us experience it in ways that we believed was never possible. These tough times have made us think and rethink, create and recreate our responses to the “New Normal” ways of imparting education and expanded the horizons of teaching-learning experiences too. Social Distancing is the new ‘Social Link’ between the Teachers and the Taught. With a will to impart quality learning during these testing times, we have unknowingly explored and implemented all those abilities that, until now, formed the basis of our thoughts for an ideal future for changing dimensions of teaching and learning. Taking online classes, sending video and audio lectures to students, recording YouTube videos and connecting to a hundred students on Zoom, devising strategies to successfully conduct online assessments, etc.,has now become the New Normal, and interestingly, we all seem to be adapting to it quite smoothly. Each such effort is directed towards making this distance learning program a quality experience for the students. These timeshare breaking the myths that quality Online Learning Programs requires a high-end operative mechanism and huge investments.

At the same time, it has also necessitated that Online/Virtual Teaching &Learning should be recognized as a fundamental pillar of every Educational Institutions’ capacity building strategies and techniques.It’s time that Online/Virtual Teaching Pedagogy vis-à-vis Face-to-Face Teaching Pedagogy must be appreciated at an equal pedestal when assessing and evaluating the predetermined learning outcomes. Another positive aspect is that the new technological avenues are opening up and trying to expand its base to further assimilate and refine the future of education system all across the globe. Hence, all the institutes should keep a check on the technological advancements and move towards unlearning and learning during such changing times.

Until now, Online/Virtual teaching and learning was considered as an obstacle to regulating the demeanour and attention capacities of the listener. It has also exposed us to all sorts of noise and clamour that are possibly going on during a regular day in any household, therefore forcing us to rethink the confinements we have placed around the word ‘concentration’.However, at the same time it is to be noted that we cannot avail the liberty of making these distractions part of online learning practices. Virtual Learning exposes all its participants to several issues pertaining to security of one’s identity, threats of cyber offences and intrusions with the Constitutional Right to Privacy. Hence, in order to ensure that the subtle lines of classroom etiquette do not get blurred, it is imperative to follow the commandments of professionalism and be respectful towards to dignity of all those who are a part of it. Practices that may degrade or otherwise hurt the integrity of the Teacher or/and the Taught, must, in all probabilities be avoided. All this would only build up our cynicism against the fact that teaching and learning through Internet Technologies is a substitute for live-classroom discussion and face-to-face interaction. Amidst the excuses for low/poor internet connectivity and faded audio visuals, understanding that Technology is merely a facilitator and not an exponent heading our on-going learning experience is imperative. One must understand that it is purely the need to prevent loss of academia that makes it inevitable to adopt and adapt to virtual learning techniques. All these efforts must be respected in both letter and spirit. In this context it has rightly been quoted by Bernard Bull that “In order to create an engaging learning experience, the role of instructor is optional, but the role of learner is essential.”

In order to better equip ourselves with relevant teaching and learning strategies for further strengthening the learning curve, we must not be completely dependent upon the existing and futuristic technological means. We must remember that Technology and its applications are only a means and not an end to driving our energies towards the vast ocean of learning that awaits our rejuvenation. Somewhere in our unconscious mind, we have also started to realise that apparently the so called “traditional teaching- learning” methods would never be able to replace what the future of teaching and learning beholds. We all are constantly trying to improvise and improve upon our capabilities with each such day passing by. As is our innate tendency as humans- we must learn to adapt the change and keep moving.

Author Ms Gunjan Arora

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