The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during March 2020 in India led to nationwide lockdown and the prolonged closure of schools to reduce the risk of infection. This heavily disrupted the learning process, causing a large gap in the academic exposure of students. To bridge the learning gap in students, IT for Change (ITfC) designed and conducted online classes on mathematics and few other subjects for students of classes 8 and 9 studying in Government and Aided High Schools in Bengaluru South-3 block. Though many private schools conducted online classes for their students, many governments and aided schools did not conduct online classes, though almost all shared learning materials with students over WhatsApp groups.
The online classes were initially conducted in October 2020 on a pilot mode for two government-aided high schools (RS High School and Hombe Gowda boys High School) and later on, based on the insights from this pilot, the program was extended to students of class 8 and 9 from twelve other government and aided schools in Bengaluru South-3 block.
The objective of online classes were :
1) To help the students overcome the academic gap brought about by the pandemic and closing down of regular schools and thus provide continuity in their learning, especially for students who come from socio-economically marginalized groups.
2) To provide a joyful learning atmosphere by integrating digital technologies in the teaching-learning activities.
3) To help students develop communication skills, logical thinking, problem-solving skills, and understanding of concepts.
The online classes were conducted separately for students from English and Kannada medium with two online classes per week each for class 8 and 9 students. A team of 2-3 members from IT for Change conducted online classes for the students and also provided technical support, to support students who faced difficulties connecting to the webinar platform and participating in online classes. The Free and Open Source (FOSS) webinar platform BigBlueButton was used for conducting the online classes. Nearly 150 students attended the classes and actively participated in the online teaching-learning process.
The program included the transaction of foundational concepts from mathematics and a few others from science and language using digital tools. Some of the teaching-learning activities in science and mathematics were demonstrated by the facilitator through video mode, thereby providing a hands-on learning experience for the students. The concepts from Geometry in Mathematics were taught using the Geogebra application which enabled the students to visualize the concepts and in turn helped the teacher to explain the concepts with better clarity. The students’ learning was further strengthened by assessing their home assignments which were shared via phone groups.
These online classes were able to help students understand the foundational concepts in mathematics and other subjects and also relate them to real-life situations. They also boosted their self-confidence and thinking ability and thereby ensured continuity in their learning process.
The online classes for the 8th and 9th grades were stopped when the schools opened during January to March 2021. However, when the schools were closed again, due to the second wave of Covid-19, the online classes were resumed.