As 2021 dawns, the future is optimistic, hopeful

At the end of the tunnel is light, and standing at the cusp of 2021, the future looks optimistic. Covid-19 may have secretly wound up in our lives, giving us no time to think or act, but it did prepare us for a dynamic future. Who would have ever imagined a school going completely online and succeeding to make every person involved, be it, teachers, parents, grandparents and students, technologically sound? Whoever imagined our comfortable homes serving as an office and networking area?

Barring the physical transformations, what the year helped manifest was our humanness. We once again put family before work, savings before expenditure, we took stock of our vicinity, time invested in caring for all around us — be it our family and friends, neighbours, the community or even the nation.

So, today, with the vaccinations happening worldwide and India leading in their manufacture, the year 2021 reconfirms the saying, “Change is the only constant”, and we need to gear up for a blending of the physical and virtual worlds, which will give rise to new jobs and opportunities. We will need to create a new formula for all our tasks, such that it supports maximum utilisation of digital tools, physical and human resources, and at the same time ensure the emotional, social and mental well-being of every individual. We are diamonds, and we have become more polished in the past year, to shine more profusely in the next year.

When we rang in 2020, it promised anticipation and excitement. Our first batch of Don Bosco International School’s Class 10 students was to appear for the IGCSE examination, and appear they did for the March series and were even bid adieu at a festive farewell, with the promise that “This is not goodbye”. Little did we realise then that on their farewell day, we would be bidding adieu to physical school for all, for an indefinite period.

Nine months of a new normal — masked, using hand wash or sanitiser repeatedly and being socially distanced — was something unheard. Where earlier, students were admonished for spending long hours before a screen, now they were encouraged to do just that. It was novel and fascinating at the start, and they did as they were bid, much to the comfort and satisfaction of their teachers, who were themselves entering a new phase of teaching. Though our return to school still hangs in the balance, depending on government directives, we plan to have a virtual student council election in January 2021 to appoint our student leaders.

Let’s not be overwhelmed by the present scenario, for as long as there is a glimmer of hope for the future, we, as a people, will always prevail.

The Covid-19 pandemic which came in without a warning, brings to light the importance of preparedness education. It recalibrated the smooth transition from traditional classroom learning to blended virtual learning.

The need to learn the skills of virtual teaching became an absolute necessity.

The school had to equip with infrastructure that would facilitate online teaching, virtual learning and blended learning. Wireless network access were strengthened with licensed software and antiviruses.

The students were constructively engaged but have also developed their creative and analytical skills. The students were extremely enamored by the novelty of the methodology of teaching and were actively participating in the lessons.

The novel methodology has triggered their creative juices and is making them successful learners.

In 2021, what may be sustainable is a hybrid model which encapsulates the merits of face-to-face teaching with the economy and convenience offered by virtual classes.

Traditional curriculum, course structure and evaluation methods would have to be redesigned to cater to such disruptions keeping the learning outcomes intact.

This year has been special as it has driven humanity across the globe. History will remember 2020 for the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects it had, both negative and positive.

Governments across the globe declared lockdowns in their respective states and laid restriction on the movement of people. Educational institutions were closed, making students, teachers and competent authorities oblivious of the next course of action.

As it is rightly said, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”, the Covid-19 outbreak gave rise to the “work from home” model. So far, this concept was prevalent in the information technology industry. Schools were one among the first to grab this opportunity and replace their physical school with a virtual one. Though virtual schooling cannot be compared with physical schooling, there was no other better option available. Many schools opted for video conferencing apps for online teaching.

Educators initially faced enormous challenges for virtual schooling as they were not trained for online teaching.Gradually, through various online training programmes, webinars, standard operating procedures, etc., they were equipped to face all the challenges of online teaching.

The year 2021 is going to be unique for teachers and students.

With the advent of artificial intelligence, imparting and acquiring knowledge rests on the click of a button. The traditional concept of schools will disappear soon.

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