Covid-19 and my 24 years of teaching experience

Amid Covid-19, my 24 plus years of teaching approach underwent a complete U-turn. Yes, many times I talked of 21st-century teaching pedagogy and how the world is fast moving towards digitisation to hundreds of students each year. Yet, my real classroom practice using ICT features did not move beyond simple PowerPoint presentation, YouTube downloads, Google search and few others. I was happy and my students were (maybe) happy until March 2020.

On 15th March 2020, it was announced that all Colleges of Royal University of Bhutan will close until further notice. Within a week, all the students left for their homes and tutors started preparing for complete online classes. A week was set aside for students to reach home and settle down before classes began.

When the online classes finally began, the stark reality of my own ICT incompetency made me reflect where I had stopped learning. I have tried to keep abreast of latest content knowledge in my subject of specialization but my lesson delivery approaches which is one of my core responsibility as a teacher and a teacher educator, has not progressed with time.  I faced difficulties with online classes not being effective, as my practices that worked quite well face to face seemed mundane. More time was spent in planning and preparing leaving me exhausted by the end of the day. Frustration mounted when I did not know whether my students were learning what they were supposed to learn though they were always kind enough to say they were learning. I was in despair.

Did I give up? Definitely not as it wasn’t the solution.

I quickly signed up for short courses on using ICT features to support teaching and learning. I walked into colleagues’ offices inquiring about their best practices. I took many short lessons from anybody who said ‘this worked in my lesson’. The reality of ‘Learning can be between any two or more person – from the one who is more knowledgeable to one who wants to learn’ was proven time and again. Besides, my all-time favourite ‘Google search’ came in handy to get further insights. All in all, within a time span of nearly one month, I realize it is never too late to learn and it is not that difficult. I wouldn’t say I am now ICT savvy but I have learnt a lot.

I now conduct classes using zoom, online discussion forum, padlet, prepare PowerPoint lesson embedding voice recording (which my students find quite effective), Blue Button, conduct online quiz, Poll Everywhere and many more. I constantly ask my students’ feedback on the approaches being used in supporting their learning. Interestingly, I help a few colleagues to use some of the above mentioned features to enhance their teaching approaches. There are some hitches but the overall experience is wonderful.

I had to wait for Covid-19 to revisit my 24 years of teaching approaches and fine-tune with the digital world. Thank you Covid-19 for the U-turn experience though I would give everything I have to make you disappear from the world.

 

Karma Utha

Asst. Professor

Samtse College of 

Education

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