Virtual Classes: Beyond Electronic Connection

Divya Tahira Mayadas: With the Coronavirus pandemic, educators across the world have had to reinvent themselves and their teaching styles. A question that plagues most in the current scenario is whether their jobs will be relevant in this evolving VUCA world. The ongoing pandemic has changed the way that most of us go about doing our jobs. Each one is contending with the ‘New Normal’.

Just two months back,to be in the four walls of the classroom and deliver an interactive session, full of learning and fun to the students was the accepted norm for all teachers. How quickly this bastion has been broken and the physical classroom seems to have been parcelled out. Online learning and Google Classrooms are the flavour of the month, with teachers zooming in and out of virtual classrooms. The chalk and talk method of yesteryears lies forgotten in a remote corner of soon to be fading memories.But we need to note that all is not lost as far as the efficacy of teaching goes.

Being an educator myself, I feel that you need to adapt and embrace change, as students, in a way, absorb the energy of the class from their educators.So, even if we have to now deliver lectures in a virtual classroom, it should not be so intimidating, as change is the only constant.
We associate classroom teaching with face-to-face interaction, emotional connect, real-time learning and fun activities. The ‘virtual classroom’ and ‘fun’ are not oil and water, but rather an opportunity to openly and freely interact with the students. In fact, virtual classrooms have erased the virtual ‘distance’ between the student and the teacher, as the latter is much more accessible and approachable now, than ever before.

This accessibility can be beautifully leveraged in the virtual classroom, as being the tech-savvy teacher instantly endears you to the students who belong to Gen Z. Adding intermittent conversation about interesting topics like football, cricket, fast cars and food, will no doubt elevate the experience for the students. Virtual classrooms don’t need to be straightjacketed, and in fact allow for a lot of fun, by way of pop quiz, open discussions, virtual talk shows and doodling together over software like Jamboard.

Being knee-deep immersed in virtual classes can have a flip side too. The constant ping of the zoom meetings and virtual classrooms have tied us to the chair and our electronic devices! Physiological strain of the neck, headaches and constantly speaking can get the better of us sometimes.
But to tackle this physiological strain, we need to consciously decide to ‘un-glue’ ourselves from our chairs and couches by getting up and stretching, doing some vigorous desktop yoga, take a jaunt in your house (you may discover hidden treasures!) and indulge in nature-gazing out of your window.

More often than not work life balance is a hit and miss, with the work from home in virtual classroomshaving truly turned our lives topsy-turvy! Educators are always on call at any time of the day or night. This adds stress as, no matter what state you are in personally, you can’t let the students suffer, and have to always be on your A-game. Bottom line is, we need to remember why we do what we do, and it is to help our students to learn, challenge themselves, build on their strengths and push them to do their best in areas that pique their interest.

Change can be incremental or monumental, but it is up to us how we adapt to it. Educators need to keep abreast with the latest technology available in the teaching industry and upgrade our skills in order to ensure that we can, at all times, give our best to the learners and nurture their growth always. Therefore, instead of being fearful of what the future will bring, we can adopt, adapt and channelize the spirit of change.


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