Views and Reflections

The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic put India’s education sector in a tight spot. It had either to adopt the new system of online education or languish with the offline one. The choice of online education ended up being a heavy burden for many schools, especially those in the under-served hinterlands, the primary reason being the absence of critical infrastructure to make the change seamless. It made critics question the sudden advocacy for digital education on a pan-India scale.
Introduction
 
Sitting away from my clients (children and adults) and watching them on the screen talk about the way they are coping with the pandemic, I have been witnessing a lot of anxiety each one is dealing with. It is hard to say who is more affected, difficult to identify the depth of breakdown of internal coping for each one and decide the severity of the impact of the dilution of physical boundaries on each member of the family.
The context
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a mixed bag of experiences with respect to teacher professional development programmes. While it has enabled many more persons to access training programmes at very low costs, it has also extensively changed the dynamics of the programmes, not necessarily for the better.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise. It hit everyone regardless of their status or background. And with schools closing, exams getting cancelled and over one billion learners impacted worldwide, education is among those fields that have been hit the hardest. 
 
Background
 
Because of the pandemic, we have now shifted to online classes. Online classes are not exactly better or worse than normal school: they are different. They are beneficial in some ways and harmful in others.
 
We are undergoing a crisis in the present times. The pandemic has totally upended the lives of people – the lockdown and its restrictions, social distancing and the closing of schools! The question that arose for us, teachers was: how we can connect with our students from afar, that too in a situation of uncertainty, mistrust and fear generated due to this mysterious virus? Learning had to continue and at first thought, the engagement over a distance mode came out to us as an instant possibility.
Our teacher development process had been more face-to-face, but COVID-19 forced us to explore other possibilities; to explore alternative methods to reach our teachers. In the early stages, we had educative conversations through teleconferencing, but this method had its limitations. There was an urgent need to find a platform to have effective communication with teachers. Finally, after much thought, Mallikarjuna Sajjan, our Cluster Resource Person (CRP) came up with an idea.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences, beyond the spread of the disease itself, on the social, economic and political life of the people. The severity of the pandemic, which has resulted in the closing of educational institutions, has been an unprecedented test for education. Academic activities in India were rapidly halted by the end of March by institutions and states even before the countrywide lockdown was announced.

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