Digital Literacy and Learning Opportunities - Auto Ethnographic Writing
As a student of education, I had learnt a few techniques to use digital tools for classroom teaching. When I was a school student, I had never touched any computer except a calculator and a digital watch with a digital display. When I was admitted to study M.ED, I got my first PC for my study and started my digital journey you-tube videos, Google search and Powerpoint. With the help of those tools, I completed my M.ED and started teaching in a private school, having a well-equipped classroom with necessary digital tools like a PC (laptop) and projector with limited bandwidth of the internet. In my early teaching career, after my M.ED, I was believed to be a technology-friendly teacher as I had learned a few tools for classroom teaching. Along with the help of those limited tools and techniques, I completed my two years of teaching in the school.
Due to COVID-19 and government decisions, the schools' calendar and schools shifted their annual work and some schools completed the academic year somehow but some schools couldn’t. Luckily, we could complete our final assessment under the given time and be able to prepare the final report of the students but we couldn’t distribute the report to the students. Finally, in the second week of Chaitra, 2076, the school closed completely. At the beginning of lockdown, I was not worried about anything because it was natural to have a short vacation after one academic year.
When the second shift of lockdown was announced by the government, I was thinking that it would be okay very soon. During the time I was listening to online classes and distance learning as I was taking some Zoom sessions for my professional development. Similarly, I tried to keep myself busy in learning some online courses. Up to the first week of Baishakh, I was enjoying my personal life with learning different online learning courses. But in the second week of Baisakh, the school leadership called me to talk about virtual class. School asked me to lead all the virtual class management, but it was a great challenge for me up to the time I knew only the basic connectivity of Zoom in the name of the virtual class. I started studying different means of virtual learning/ teaching system management, consulted different experts, principals of different school and program coordinators and found a few learning management systems (LMS).
Along with institutions of different tools and applications, I kept myself busy in learning and applying those tools and applications. During the period I was completely engaged so I couldn’t realize that there was a complete shot down outside around two weeks. I am very happy for my family support during my learning. I have experience working 18 hours a day and late at night to make me familiar with different learning management systems. I studied Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft and other tools for virtual teaching. I found Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams for my synchronous learning and Google classroom, E-mail, Facebook, Viber and other tools for communication can be used for Asynchronous learning. During this time I had already got up Google Classroom and Zoom for my school. My learning was continuous along with my regular class and my professional duty.
Along with my regular duty there was a great challenge with learning management systems, leaving behind the common problems like: devices, internet, proper knowledge to use those tools and so on. When I installed the system (LMS) in my school, Zoom asynchronous and Google Classroom as asynchronous learning management system; I realized some immediate challenges like: data storage problems (online/cloud data and offline device storage) in different tools. (I will write about these things later).
I started seeking a more advanced and secure tool for the online learning management system and after long study I came to know that we can use Google for education for free with integrated Google Meet for synchronous learning and other additional tools for education. I applied for a G-suit for education. I applied for a G-suit for education. As it was a time of crisis, the economical part was another challenge so I left some other effective LMS for immediate use and went for Google. For the first time in my life, I learnt about the word domain in technology.
After regular follow up and communication with Google representatives I was able to verify the school a\s educational institution, which is compulsory to get a G-suit for education for free of cost. If you want to pay, it costs 4 to 6$ per user in G-suit. There may be a question why G-suit for education but before asking this question you need to study all the learning management systems which I have mentioned above.
Finally, I got verification from Google and I started adding users and learning about G-suit. Now I have completed educator level ‘I’ and level ‘II’ from rigorous online learning. I am under the certification process for educator level ‘I’ and ‘II’ from Google. After that, I can go for Google certified Google trainer.
Training The Teachers
New things are challenging and have multiple opportunities. A few weeks ago all the learning management systems for virtual learning were quite new for me but after two weeks of research and study, I was able to gain some level of proficiency in Google tools for education. After successful verification of the G-suit and installation, another step was to train the teachers to use it. Along with teachers training, discriminating the use, benefits of installed LMS was another challenge. In that situation, I thought to train the teachers so that they can deliver the basics of the LMS we are practising. I prepared different tools for teachers training like Google form, training manual, content, different links, videos, power points and many more contextual tools for training the teachers. Finally, I organized a four days workshop to introduce the system to the teachers.
Teaching textbooks was a common and easy thing for all the teachers but in this flipped pedagogy teachers should prepare the materials on the basis of the curriculum. Narrowing down the broad curricular concepts into teachable fragments was a great challenge for the teachers. On the other hand, implementing those materials in virtual learning is another challenge for the teachers. In this situation the training was not effective as it was expected to be but, I was able to make teachers familiar with Google classroom.
Though the planning of the lesson was not my part, I was compelled to go through it as traditional lesson planning is not completely okay with distance learning. Though I was aware of the challenges of engaging students in virtual learning platforms, I couldn’t design all the activities based on the curriculum. Instead, I requested teachers to make their classrooms more interactive by asking questions.
What I Learned…
A teacher/ facilitator/ mentor/ trainer whatever you called for a person who attempts to deliver knowledge shouldn’t forget the day when he/she started to learn a particular topic which is being delivered in the session. It is expected and believed that the trainers or teachers have some level of proficiency in the particular topic and must-have, however, the person shouldn’t forget the audience students or learners are the beginners for the topic. He should start from the very beginning with any new topic. The level of maturity always helps to learn; along with this, it increases the lazy mentality in adult learners if they are not intrinsically motivated for the profession or the topic. The learning I made during the lockdown has built my confidence in the field of education. Though my career is not secure in the private sector, I have learned a lot of things for the future and will continue to do so.