The Gujarat education department has decided to launch virtual classrooms soon, considering the uncertainty over the commencement of the new academic session in government primary schools that has already been delayed by over to months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department has issued guidelines to all government primary schools on the implementation of virtual classrooms, after initiating the ‘Study from Home’ campaign through social media and lessons through television channels. Nearly 48,000 teachers of these schools will be given training from May 18 for which district primary education officers (DPEOs), administrative officers (AOs) and district project co-ordinators (DPCs) have made a list of 15 ‘innovative tech-savvy’ teachers in every 3,245 clusters.
These are teachers who initiated and made groups of students to guide them through video-conference for assignments under the Study from Home project.
“Since there is no certainty and to prepare our teachers and students for any such situation in the future, the idea of virtual classrooms has been rolled out, similar to the ones in private schools,” said state project director (SPD) Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) P Bharathi.
The training sessions will be conducted at the Command and Control centre (CCC) for capacity building of teachers, principals, Cluster Resource Centre (CRC) co-ordinators, Block Resource Centre (BRC) co-ordinators as well as district staff on various aspects of virtual classes, assessments, feedbacks, reporting and monitoring.
Cluster-wise channels will be created under Microsoft Teams and CRC co-ordinators who have been provided with tablets by the state education department, under the CCC, will monitor the programme in each school under their cluster. They have to ensure all the identified teachers are registered and their Microsoft Teams User IDs are created.
Over 2 lakh licences have been procured from Microsoft for virtual classrooms. The teachers will reach out to parents and students of over 34,000 government primary schools and get them registered on MS Teams for attending the sessions. While registration, the teachers have to ensure that the students should have access to smart phones, computer, laptop or tablet. Each teacher will teach a group of 30 students under their respective cluster in a virtual classroom session.
With the issues of internet connectivity, availability of smart phone or a computer, SPD P Bharathi admitted that it would not reach every student. “These virtual classrooms may not reach out to 100 per cent students but we will attempt to cover maximum schools and students,” he said. The eight-week long ‘Study from Home’ campaign, started on March 28, reached out to over 43 lakh government school students from Class 3 to Class 9 through social media. Numbers till April 20 suggest that the campaign covered 66 per cent government school students.
“Each registered student will be given a unique user ID based on his Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) ID provided by the department. Students can use this to log in to attend the sessions,” said a CRC co-ordinator. Teachers will prepare the schedule of virtual class sessions and share it with students and parents on WhatsApp groups. CRCs will supervise teachers on maintaining a record of the online teaching sessions and attendance of students. CRCs will then report about the progress to the SSA.
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