By Dr. Srinivasa Pai
Mangaluru, April 10, 2020: We are in an unusual situation today. The world is struggling to come to terms with the onslaught of a viral infection. In fact, many of us are slowly getting irritated hearing the name of the infection, which gets repeated almost on all media everyday. The government, media and other agencies have their responsibilities, which they are performing to the best of their abilities to contain the spread and control the infection. This has led to a situation of home confinement, where we have to confine ourselves to our homes and maintain ’social distancing’. Which in turn has affected industries, organizations, agencies and people from all walks of life.
For the first few days, we were happy that we had a vacation and were enjoying the free time, but now the gravity of the situation has hit us and we have to go about doing things, which we are supposed to do, that is do our professional work, for which we are getting paid.
This has made all of us think and adopt ways and means to equip ourselves to perform our duties in the best possible way. This has lifted us out of our slumber and has made us explore different methods to perform our tasks. We are teachers, the responsibility of guiding and training our students rests on us. Students may be considering this a vacation and may be enjoying it, but it is our duty to first understand the seriousness of the situation and then try and make our students understand. ’Uncertainty’ is what is staring at us, as each one of us is not sure when we will be able to come out of this lockdown. Teachers have to perform their roles in the most diligent manner, so that students are put at ease, focus on their studies and are mentally prepared for what is to come.
In this regard, to continue the teaching-learning process uninterruptedly, AICTE and other government bodies have started issuing advisories to make effective use of technology to facilitate the teaching-learning process. In these trying circumstances, even the most unenterprising teacher like me needs to learn new things to provide knowledge to students. Though we all have been listening to and reading about effective use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education, have read many research articles and case studies about its implementation, results obtained, effectiveness etc, many of us have never ventured into it ourselves, as we presume that it is not necessary for us and we would continue to teach the way we have been teaching for years. But now we are in a ’Catch-22’ situation, where there is a necessity thanks to the lockdown and also a mandate from the management of our colleges, affiliating bodies and the government.
It has become a necessity for all of us to make effective use of ICT to teach students. It is not only about commitment to our profession, or the expectations of our students, but also a time to work on ourselves, improve on our skills and move with the times. We do not want to lag behind. We have to overcome this challenge and survive and this has made all teachers, including me, take initiatives, which we never would have, under normal circumstances. We now understand the meaning of the proverb, ’necessity is the mother of invention’. I thought maybe, I have to modify this slightly to say ’necessity is the compeller of initiative’. Yes, this situation has compelled me to come out of my mental slumber and use my common sense and intelligence to make the best use of available resources and provide content in the most effective manner to my students.
Many of my colleagues have taken so many initiatives, which may be they would never have adopted under normal circumstances. The initiatives taken and efforts made are extraordinary. I would say, a study of individual efforts made by faculty can provide valuable data for future research and provide direction to the government bodies to form strategies where regular teaching-learning methods would be complemented with these somewhat unconventional methods. It can provide a new dimension to the teaching-learning process happening all over the world and enrich individual experiences of faculty. Let us all make use of this unhappy and unhealthy scenario to explore our potential and establish ourselves as teachers who rise to every occasion.
Dr. Srinivasa Pai is Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering, NMAM Institute of Technology, Nitte