The year 2020 brought along with it predicament in the form of pandemic. Initially what seemed to be mild hiccups, as the news flowed through the media channels in the early part of the year, turned out to be detrimental. The turn of events leading to lockdown in many countries added fuel to the VUCA world in which we were already operating.
As the case load started to increase in March 2020, the call to impose a lockdown came as a shock, many shook their head calling it a non-viable idea, considering the havoc it would have on the economy. History taught us to deal with such situations, be it the Spanish flu in 1918 or the H1N1 of 2010. Indeed, it was a bitter pill to swallow but the results were good, the imposition of lockdown was a proven non-pharmacological intervention even during the Spanish flu. The period of lockdown varied across the globe and it gave the administrators the necessary time to organize and strengthen the medical care facilities. It saved many precious lives… life took precedence over livelihood. ...
By following the COVID 19 health guidelines and the social distancing practices, we seem to have handled the situation well, though with some visible scars. In the process the economy did have a setback. Many sectors like the manufacturing, real estate, automobile were badly hit so were the players from the unorganized sector.
Education sector was no different, it had its own set of challenges. The new normal, which we are experiencing is here to stay for quite some more time to come. But the year 2020 which was perceived to be Annus Horribilis turned out to be Annus mirabilis for this sector. And this is how it panned out…
The in-person learning sessions had to be given a miss and with it came the need to get creative, this gave the academic fraternity a wonderful opportunity to explore new areas of engagement with the learners. Without suspending the teaching learning activities, we went ahead with introducing the synchronous and asynchronous mode of online teaching. Both the student and the teaching community successfully navigated through the unchartered digital leaning space dissolving the geographical borders across different time zones, though with a little inconvenience. This mode of learning offered ample opportunities to have virtual visitors in the classroom, which otherwise would have been challenging in the in person classes due to logistical issues.
The stakeholders also benefited from to the flexibility the online leaning offered in scheduling the sessions, they could be scheduled or rescheduled at short notice. The time saved by the faculty in the absence of travel and allied activities was invested to explore innovative ways in making the class sessions more engaging. It also gave enough room for consultation with the students and academic mentoring.
Long hours of online engagement with the learners did bring out concerns like screen fatigue and absence of eye contact with each other. However, tools like the chat, poll, break out rooms, live documents, shared white board bridged the vacuum and in fact enhanced the learning experience. The option of chat gave freedom to those students who would be silent in the class maybe not wanting to open up in the cohort. Polls quickly brought out the opinion of the learners to drive the discussions in manner to deliver the underlying idea of the sessions effectively. The case studies delivered in the virtual class brought in more discipline and understanding of each other among the learners. The feedback from the learners was swift giving the faculty room to polish the pedagogy thereby enhancing the learning experience.
The e-content developed by the faculty was another plus from this platform of learning, it helped the students to learn at their own pace and refer to the content whenever they were stuck. Needless to mention that this e-content will eventually flow into the public domain for the benefit of the larger public.
With all the stakeholders quickly adapting the new environment led to effective meetings with students. Surprise visitors in the meetings like a sibling of the students popping into the frame or any other family members making a cameo unknowingly would make it interesting and funny and at the same time taught us to be more empathetic.
The flexibility and savings in time had a positive influence on research activities, it gave the researchers the much needed additional time to build their research portfolio. The count from “Nature Index” indicates that the research publications from all the researchers across the globe are moving north.
All in all, numerous innovative ways to engage with the students evolved during this period, which otherwise would not be possible in the in person classes. The year 2020 can be defined as the year of Resilience, while the students have trodden through a hard year missing the traditional set up of learning, they have already had hands on the future technology that awaits them in the form of digital business.
Last year seemed to be difficult and uncertain, however there are numerous learnings from this period. I still remember we returned from SIU, Pune after NAAC audit in the first week of March 2020, and during travel I had cold and congestion. Till that time, we were already aware of entry of COVID-19 in India. Before going to home I went to hospital to check if I was sound health wise. By the grace of God everything was fine....
That day onwards there was no fear for the pandemic, rather there were opportunities to do things differently and explore the unknown & uncertain. As a teacher I learned new pedagogies, creating videos, delivering online classes and making class more engaging. As a person I learned to be more thankful to the God and nature for all the blessings. The resilience developed now will not only help surviving pandemic but all the hurdles in life to come.
So once again the proverb “challenges bring opportunities with them” is proven to be true!
Change is the law of life and our attitude towards it decide the way we take it. 2020 was a year of disruptions demanding for a lot of changes in attitude towards life. Year 2020 will be remembered by me not because of the ill effects of the pandemic but the lessons of life it taught like the lessons of being flexible for adapting to a radically changing environment, to cherish relationships and have perseverance and empathy towards everyone. The pandemic came as a shock, thereby disrupting the ecosystem and disturbing the peace of mind of people....
Posed as a threat to mankind initially, it actually made human beings realise the unleashed opportunities it offered and untapped potential we had to encash these opportunities. It made everyone to stay at home for months while cutting off totally from our social life. My outdoor physical activities suddenly came to a halt at a time when fitness mattered the most and hence, I shifted to indoor physical activities like yoga and meditation. It enhanced my emotional wellbeing which was more important in these harsh times. Pandemic forced me from going out, but on the other hand, staying at home and spending quality time with my family strengthened our bond.
Talking on the professional front, initially it disrupted the work life balance, but in the due course of time it made me more diligent and smart in managing the time effectively. It actually enhanced the efficiency by reducing travel time and utilising the same to do additional office tasks. After some months of successfully working from home, shifting to working from office called for again a change in lifestyle by managing the clock and setting timelines for tasks to be completed efficiently and effectively.
Apart from that, the challenge of teaching online and maintaining student engagement required a lot of brainstorming and preparation by trying and testing new platforms including Microsoft Teams & other tools like padlets and whiteboard along with brainstorming on some online games and activities to be conducted in the class. The teaching pedagogy was modified with a change in the content and the way it was delivered. Use of technology aided the quality of delivery in the class. So, online debating and online flip mode classroom though seemed difficult at the start yet was conducted successfully in classes. Though initially it required a lot of effort and trials but it was successful over a period of time as student engagement in the classes increased and they enjoyed participating in different activities online. The option of breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams served as a perfect platform to conduct group activities and ensuring one to one student interaction and engagement. Of late, the classes are being organised in blended mode which again poses challenge to engage both online and offline students simultaneously. Last one year was all about learning new ways of engaging students with enriched content and interesting activities.
My knowledge and skills have enhanced in the new normal. This pandemic has made me more flexible and dynamic in adapting to the sudden changes in the environment and has also imparted strength and endurance. The need of the hour is to acclimatise and enhance our knowledge and skills to the rapidly changing world outside. Every disruption brings forth some challenges and at the same time strength to overcome them. The strength lies in the way we take it and don’t give up!!
The year 2020 has created a whirlwind of change and crisis for everyone around the world, yet this same year has been kind enough to provide a multitude of opportunities for me to focus on my professional as well as personal growth. This year marks not only completion of my Doctorate Degree in Commerce but also my appointment as Assistant Professor at the reputed institution of Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, NOIDA... Since I have joined SCMS, I have been able to explore my abilities, strengths and weaknesses not only as an academician but also as a researcher. Additionally, I have also been assigned a new role as a faculty In-Charge of the Mentoring Cell, which intends to help students with both academic and non-academic issues which they face throughout their student life. These new roles and responsibilities have extensively helped me refine my problem-solving and agility skills. One of the highlights has to be the first virtual fest we organized. The different activities, interacting with students and carrying out all my responsibilities was a fun experience. Witnessing our enthusiastic students take on challenges we put forward to access their talents and interests was very rewarding and a nice break from the conventional classroom experience. All of these responsibilities and experiences have enriched my role as an academician, and I hope to continue learning while imparting knowledge and providing direction to our students. Despite it being a challenging year due to the outbreak of the pandemic, hard work, determination and consistency has helped me achieve this new milestone in my career path. I am extremely grateful for the support and encouragement provided by the institute, fellow faculty and also the students. I look forward to take on the new responsibilities with determination to help everyone around me achieve their goals.