Rural children and youth embracing digital medium to continue learning during Covid-19

With the emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown declared by the Government of India, the movement of men, material and social & economic activities got stalled. Everyone witnessed the wheel of the social train being completely derailed. In this gloomy scenario, everyone is affected including the young & old, youth & students and the rural & urban population.

Learning through digital medium a new normal

In today’s time, education through digital medium has become new normal and is extensively used in urban areas for learning by students and youth. However, in rural areas particularly for underprivileged students continuing education had become a challenge. To address this digital technology was employed for imparting education. Rural communities have not only embraced digital medium but have innovated to make it more relevant.

Apart from school syllabus, computer and English learning are prerequisites for survival; a process has been devised wherein digitalized video sessions are used to impart activity based English communication skills. Local youth and teachers are trained as community based teachers, who digitally connect with respective students residing in villages of Karjan {Gujarat} and Gangapur {Maharashtra}.

Reworking of curriculum to continue learning from home

The youth and teachers, converse in the group with the help of audio and video and answer various exercises developed by the Faculty. This includes picture and story comprehension, phonics, public speaking by recording individual videos, loud reading of newspaper headlines to learn correct pronunciation, grammar classes on zoom etc. Group mentors provide individual corrections and answer keys that are uploaded at end of the day.

These education sessions are not just about having calls on zoom or showcasing videos on YouTube but to engage learners, get their answer sheets and feedback. To engage students in constructive activities Whatsapp groups has been formed for students and parents. Different Whatsapp groups are created for different ages and activities are delivered accordingly.

Engaging with students through regular feedback

A comprehensive weekly schedule has been formulated for home-based learning of students, focusing on developing their analytical skills, use of digital literacy in day to day life, puzzles for developing problem solving skill, values through stories, local language development through comprehension and creative exercises, practical activities on maths and calculations, inspirational and educational counselling videos, soft skill development programs, entertainment through magic show clips etc.

Regular feedback and assessment is essential to make rural students engaged and to make changes according to the requirements. Teachers are in constant touch with the parents and students; they encourage students and discuss about the lesson plans on daily basis. Students have reciprocated very actively on WhatsApp groups with their learning responses through videos and photographs.

Challenges in engaging with stakeholders and adapting to new normal

Parents of students in villages have an important role when it comes to deciding education for their children’s. Lot of time has been spent interacting with the parents as children are using their smartphones for learning. The enthusiasm of parents has led to students taking utmost interest and asking teachers to take more such sessions online.

Through these digital initiatives we have connected the lives of students and trying to take them to this fairly untapped way of education. Learning now also includes motivational videos, career guidance orientation and value-based movies & plays, so that it constructively engages parents and students in the education process and make them realize the positive impact of technology and its usage to educate their children for a brighter future.

Published In :India Today