Teachers are making short videos for students in their surroundings, with practical examples to their lessons.

A school teacher in a blue colour saree is seen standing beside a lake.Screenshot
Coronavirus Education Friday, July 24, 2020 - 15:22

For many children, the opportunity to see information from science books in real life is limited to a couple of specimens set up for display in glass jars or some simple science experiments. Now, even these options are not there with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But some teachers are trying their best to ensure that their students don’t miss out on ‘real-life’ teachings.

Praveena, a biology teacher at a school under the Telangana State Welfare Residential Education Institutes Society’s (TSWREIS) residential schools recently went to a nearby pond to shoot a video showing her students some different forms of algae. With water flowing in the background, Praveena addresses her class 8 students. She then goes on to demonstrate two algae plants right there, before the scene changes to a classroom setting. Here, she prepares the glass slide for the microscope and observes the algae under it, all for the students to see.

TWREIS schools cater to students from disadvantaged communities. Like Praveena, others with TSWREIS too are continuing teaching through pre-recorded videos not exceeding than three minutes. The teachers believe that it's difficult to grab students’ attention due to closure, and in virtual education beyond a point, and that this could help.

Speaking to TNM, she says, “We aim that our lessons should be as practical as possible, as per the instructions that we have received from our authorities. We try to make sure that they are closer to real life. In this way, students can recognise what they have learnt, in the future, when needed.”

She adds, “And as these videos are short pre-recorded ones, students at different levels can watch and re-watch them till they understand. In case they have questions, they can always get back to us.”

A lot of teaching methodologies are also being brought into these videos, says Sasi, Member of Research Development Section (MRDS), who is guiding teachers in making short video lessons.

Sasi explains that there are certain principles that they keep in mind to make lessons as effective as possible and train teachers accordingly, such as Coherence Principle (which ensures that videos should focus on necessary content and the same is being covered), Segmenting Principle (learning is better when content is presented in small chunks), Contiguity Principle (learning is better when corresponding words and pictures are presented close by), Signalling Principle (learning is better when cues are used to direct learner’s attention to key concepts).

“This could be a very creative way to keep learners engaged. These kinds of educational videos will be sharply focused to help understanding and memorising among students,” Sasi says.

TSWREIS teachers are being assigned to make these videos on a rotational basis. A group of teachers are assigned some of the units of the subject, and then these videos are cleared by the research development team. Then, the videos are shared among the students in WhatsApp class groups. Another group of teachers takes over after this. They are also advised to practice cautionary measures while shooting the videos.

Apart from social media, the residential schools are also using educational TV channels in Telangana DD Yadagiri and T-SAT – videos from both of which are available on YouTube as well – for their lessons. Apart from real-life examples, teachers are also using educational videos within their lessons, and making larger models or charts they are using for demonstrations in the videos.

Despite these efforts though, not all students are able to access these lessons. According to the TSWREIS, about 30% of their children do not have access to smartphones or television sets.

To overcome the same problem, TSWREIS Secretary, Dr R S Praveen Kumar, has come up with a local solution, which is VLCs (Village Learning Centres).

These are managed by a small group of students guided by a village volunteer, who is usually a senior student of that group. There are six to nine such groups in each village. Younger students can come to centres – with proper precautions, such as wearing masks, and the volunteers can facilitate learning.