The coronavirus pandemic has brought to fore unprecedented challenges for every aspect of our life. The education sphere obviously cannot be insulated from the rest of the environment. The national lockdown and mandatory social distancing requirement have threatened to disrupt or fundamentally alter conventional approaches of imparting education.
At the start it seemed a daunting challenge to maintain the regular academic schedule. As they say, there lies an opportunity in every difficulty. The educational institutions under the auspices of the Jagran Education Foundation, an initiative of the Dainik Jagran Group, have seized this opportunity to venture into digital classrooms.
On behalf of Shri Puranchandra Gupta Smarak Trust, the JEF runs an array of institutions of excellence – schools, colleges and professional institutes – in different parts of the country. All these institutions have successfully transitioned to the online mode, which will remain in vogue not just during the Stay-at-Home order of the Government, but even afterwards to supplement the traditional pedagogy.
On March 14th, as soon as the Uttar Pradesh Government announced the suspension of the classes and dispersal of students, the Trust -- in compliance with the directive, and for the safety of students, faculty and employees -- promptly shutdown all its institutions.
JEF has over the years come to be appreciated for outstanding methods of classroom teaching and practical training. Digital learning, however, had not been the prime focus area in the past. Given the transformed environment, the management and the faculty have taken the initiative to embark on the new experiment of online teaching that fills a void in the all-encompassing efforts for information-sharing.
Some initial apprehension about the digital mode was only natural. There were, of course, a few teething problems such as lack of robust connectivity. The administration and the technical staff of the Foundation, rather than wring their hands in despair, took the matter in their hands. Persistent endeavor and innovative thinking helped to tide over the glitches. As we write, all the institutions are seamlessly carrying out regular online classes.
It is indeed gratifying that JEF school and college students have embraced this practice of online classes with open arms. To start with, only online theory classes were introduced. Subsequently the teachers shared their power-point-presentation and graphical displays with the students on their laptops and simulated the interactive classroom experience. From the second week the teachers have also started practical demonstrations online. In order to add the requisite gravitas to these online lessons, regular credit assignments are being given by respective teachers. This constitutes a part of the continuous assessment system, a standard hallmark of the JEF institutions.
To improve their ability to deliver quality education online, teachers at JEF Schools and Higher Education Institutes are also undergoing training for upgradation of their skills. They are regularly attending webinars with eminent resource persons; most of them have been enrolled in training programs being conducted by world class online content providers.
JEF institutions are providing academic content mostly on WhatsApp and YouTube. The students and teachers are interacting on various video platforms such as Google classroom and Zoom. The faculty members have also developed their own YouTube channels so as to make the teaching more illustrative and lucid. Internal assessment of students is being carried out through periodic online tests. In order to preserve the sanctity and enhance the efficacy of the digital learning model, JEF have devised execution protocols for maximum benefit.
Below are the various educational institutions that operate under the aegis of JEF across diverse streams and the initiatives taken by them to switch to online classrooms during COVID-19 Lockdown:
Jagran College of Arts, Science and Commerce (JCASC)
All the students are preparing their projects\, PPT etc. under the supervision of the faculty. Besides the online theory classes, the students have also been inducted into online internship programme. Well-known enterprises like Verzoi -- in collaboration with IIT Kanpur, Microsoft, Google and Microdesk -- have given the opportunity to 110 students of JCASC college to work as interns. During the two-month internship, the students would witness live interactive sessions and complete minor and major projects under the supervision of industry experts.
Jagran Institute of Management and Mass Communication (JIMMC), Kanpur & Noida
JIMMC, has ramped up efforts to strengthen online tools like sharing of documents, presentations and regular assignments. The students are being provided with informative pdf format e-papers to keep abreast of the global developments. Students are making adverts and posters to spread awareness about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
JIMMC students are not able to go out for field work due to the national lockdown, but they are doing everything possible indoors. TV specialization students are practising PTCs and voice overs under the supervision of the teachers. Print students are working on headlines, articles and features. Advertising students are creating storyboards and print ads; they are making jingles on their mobile phone. Students are also honing their writing and translation (English to Hindi, Hindi to English) skills on a daily basis.
The Institute has devised a standard format: a teacher gives one assignment after each class; those students who complete the assignment by midnight get the day’s attendance for that class; the teachers send back their review of the assignment by mail the next day. This experiment is working very well.
Jagran Institute of Management (JIM)
JIM faculty members are delivering lectures as per the existing timetable of the semester. JIM has a comprehensive E-Library from which students borrow E-books. Performance of students is being evaluated through weekly assignments and attendance is being marked on a daily basis. Certain case studies are being forwarded in advance and discussion is being held later.
Jagran Institute of Digital Animation (JIDA)
JIDA Students are doing their ongoing projects under the direct supervision of the teachers. The projects submitted by the students are being regularly updated on the institute’s Facebook page.
Jagran School of Law (JSL)
The School is providing subject notes to students via email, WhatsApp and other digital means. The teachers of the JSL have created separate WhatsApp groups of students semester-wise to provide support to them.
JAGRAN EDUCATION FOUNDATION SCHOOLS
Jagran Education Foundation has successfully implemented the conduct of Online/Live classes across all its schools at Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Noida with a combination of digital platforms. PuranchandraVidyaniketan Kanpur, Jagran Public Schools at Noida, Lucknow and Varanasi have been conducting the online classes through Zoom and WhatsApp groups. The schools are also using Teach Next Digital Classroom to conduct online classes.
With each class ranging between 30 to 40 minutes, all the branches have a regular time table of 5-6 periods per day, six days a week. The school begins with the school prayer with an address by the Principal, giving the students a feel of morning assembly in their virtual classrooms.
Students post their home work on the WhatsApp groups which is periodically tested and monitored. The class teachers of the respective classes and sections are regularly uploading all approved academic content and videos. Yoga and physical exercise classes are being conducted by the Physical Education Instructors; students watch the instructor and perform asanas as well as other stretching exercises.