It was mid-March when we were busy with the 2020 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Annual Examination for grades X and XII, used to determine grades and college paths. Suddenly a brake was applied to the usual educational scenario due to the lockdown announced in our country, India. We were unable to meet our students and worried about their studies at the same time.
Initially, we started with assigning Home Fun activities to students on school ERP software, which helps teachers to access students’ information and to communicate with them. But it was not worth continuing. And …a revolutionary approach arrived: teaching through an online platform, Zoom.
I must admit that, being a language teacher, I rarely used the SMART CLASS system and other IT tools in my teaching in the past. But Zoom taught me a lot. It started with learning the basics of the application. My students became my teachers and helped me a lot with it. When I faced the camera for the first time other than taking photos, I got the feeling of overcoming my fear of technology. At the same time. this online platform gave me many opportunities to attend and learn about new approaches to learning from various webinars and workshops by well-known educators from all over the world.
After I got into to a routine, my online teaching gradually began changing. When some shy students hesitated to answer a question or switch on their camera, I asked them to use the chat option to answer or ask a question and, surprisingly, my chat box started filling up with overwhelming responses from everyone. Then a time came when I found the utility of the other useful Zoom function, Screen Share, which helped me to share Power Point presentations, images, audio files, and PDF documents with my students, because it is always a good idea to use different teaching tools in order to enhance learners’ interest in learning by engaging both their analytic and creative skills (Trimble, 2007).
Soon I found that students’ participation in the class had increased along with their creativity, and this started making the classes entertaining. Their scribbling and the models of fine art on the screen while sharing images or presentations made me go crazy with laughter. Soon YouTube helped me with its annotation function which I used to recognize my “Young Artists.” The Zoom Whiteboard, too, proved to be useful when a particular word was shown or written there correctly.
So, when I had almost mastered the skills of using Zoom effectively, my students started appreciating the learnings. And my boosted confidence encouraged me to experiment with some activities like beginning the classes with instrumental music, asking students about their mood through a Feeling Chart and ending the class on an emotional note or a thought-provoking question.
Example of Feeling Chart:
With these tools I could even arrange virtual field trips to the city library, guest lectures, online competitions like crossword puzzles, quizzes, Digi Tales (stories with the help of animated Power Point Presentations), view-counterviews (presenting two different aspects of same topic), and many celebrations as well.
This new technology has enabled me to think about learning-teaching methods with a new perspective, where education must deal with all the senses and many spheres of life. As a language teacher you just need passion for teaching; technology is always there to support you.
Trimble, M. R. (2007). The soul in the brain: The cerebral basis of language, art, and belief. Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Nitin Suryavanshi is a facilitator who has been enjoying language teaching for the last 12 years. He has been a part of many educational conferences and webinars. Recently, he attended the JALT conference. He is fond of writing, narrating stories, experimenting, and doing research useful for his students.