The sudden announcement of lockdown across the country to tackle the spread of COVID 19 has had a profound impact on everyone. This impact was especially stark in the education sector, where the daily interactions and activities of teachers and students in a classroom environment suddenly came to a halt.
The process to continue spreading education was initiated using WhatsApp to distribute content to students. The content was in the form of YouTube video links, audio conference calls, PDF notes printed or handwritten, self created videos, online articles, etc. In one of the girls’ degree college, record was maintained in an Excel sheet about various information given and feedback was also taken from students to gauge the effectiveness.
While this allowed us to maintain connectivity, concerns started to come up about how students or teachers would be able to retrieve or revisit past content – especially over long periods of time. In a classroom environment, the books and registers, which are made class-wise also serve an important purpose which allow the students to refer systematically during exam time or otherwise. In WhatsApp groups, the content is more likely to be lost in the long list of messages. Another issue is privacy in adding students to WhatsApp groups since it provides mobile number visibility to each other and even causes parental objections in some cases especially in girls and co-ed colleges.
Most of our students do not have access to laptops or desktops, so a mobile app for learners has been made on Android and iOS. As the students come from economically weaker sections, we need to be mindful of their data usage. Hence, the apps allow downloading of videos and documents to their phones, which can be referred later without incurring additional data usage. It is difficult to ensure and manage email addresses and passwords of students, especially the younger lot. To solve this, EdNirvana has provision for initial login using mobile phone number and OTP. The content needs to be uploaded by the instructors as they go along the course delivery. Comprehensive capability to create assessments like tests and assignments is built-in and instructors can generate and administer those to learners from time to time. There is support for many types of questions and a question-bank is formed by the system as questions are added.
We needed to provide an element of interactivity to the online course delivery. Hence there is a provision for forums – any learner can create a forum topic and then the students and teachers can comment over it in a participative manner. A system like this gains importance because of the unsure environment prevalent now and in foreseeable future. Even when the schools and colleges open up, many parents will not like to send their children out of fear of COVID. In such cases, a hybrid model of teaching is required, which is also enabled by this solution.