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Suitability of Virtual Schooling Classes & Online Exams during the COVID-19 Lockdown
As the COVID-19 pandemic has extremely affected everyone’s lives, particularly the students, and resulted in the closure of schools and colleges across the country. Education system has been stopped dramatically and changed over the previous two months, so there was a dire need to introduce an effective and virtual schooling system through which we could resume educating our students staying at home, whereas the online education would serve as a wonderful opportunity and platform for students to spend their lockdown time productively. In this regard, Cantt Public School & College Multan has been introduced a short-term virtual classes and online sessions to minimize the potential of virus transmission, that can also be adopted by the others schools and colleges nationwide.
The Cantt Public School & College (CPS&C) is a renowned institute, which has been located in Multan Cantt for more than past three decades, functioning under the control of Cantonment Board Multan, and with the direction of Ministry of Defence. Like many global educational institutions, we are also ongoing in providing online teaching classes to the new sessions of our enrolled students from class PG till 2nd year at home; working with students remotely. We have made online lessons a much easier using Zoom and Google Classroom, as tools for creativity and engagement. The structure of online classes was designed to furnish a productive and learning platform for our students, so they can spend their time at home fruitfully. For the cited purpose, a distinct class wise study groups were created on WhatsApp by all the responsible class teachers in the weeks ahead. A total of 30 above teaching staff members accompanied with the Principal, are being engaged in creating teaching curriculum; worksheets; lesson’s videos; & tutorials, tech support, and facilitating the online sessions to students via Zoom; WhatsApp; and Google Classroom throughout the week. The lessons schedule was prepared and forwarded to the related class groups, and online classes are being led routine wise as per given schedule.
What actually we are doing? Through our online teaching classes, we provide our students video lectures on each subject, online discussions, live books sharing, homework, assignments, assessment tests, online monitoring system etc. Students get their homework and assignments of relevant subject online, and they have to send it back to their subject teacher after completing it, so they don’t have to appear to the class to hand anything in, subject teachers review assignments and talk over on it with students in their respective class groups. All students are required to mark their attendance before each class, and then contribute to a zoom session or Google doc. that has the facility about assignment questions. Students can put in their questions on this document.
After successfully commencing the online teaching classes in CPS&C; conducting exams to assess students’ performance were the main challenge, because the existing COVID19 pandemic situation mad it quite complicated for us to conduct written exams. Exams had to be occurred remotely and distantly while ensuring that no external aid is used and that students authenticate themselves accordingly. Therefore, we could only provide online exam in those certain circumstances cope with and which has also been approved by the higher authority.
We knew that the online exam was a challenge not only for us but also for the students, while we had to adhere to the specified requirements, but Alhamdulillah; CPS&C successfully conducted its first online assessment exam via Zoom on 26th June 2020 under the valuable guidance and with the untiring efforts of our Principal; Ms. Beenish Saeed along with her dedicated team members who organized, arranged and functionalized the online exam for students effectively. We did our best till succeed and not putted any unnecessary hitches in the way. This is the first time in CPEIs history that an online classes and exams have been conducted so effectively.
Before the exam started, considerable preparations and planning had to be done. The prerequisites, guidelines & conditions, and exam’s procedure were described and conceded before the exam. Participation of students in the exam was considered as an assessment part of their online study. Only those students who were agreed to those conditions could participate. In that concern many things were required to prepare and arrange before the exam, like zoom application installation & registration, instructions & guidelines for students, making of Question paper, operational devices connection and many more, and Alhamdulillah, due to the efforts of our team, the online assessment exam was successfully conducted under an intensive monitoring system with all the precautionary measures against COVID19.
Some things about the exam went well, some things needs to be improved. I’m scripting this article in the hope that someone can learn from our experiences when holding online teaching classes & exam. Getting Zoom working wasn’t too difficult. But the first thing we had to endorse that all students must be familiar about Zoom application and procedure, and we tried our best to let them know about it. Hence the outcome was excellent. The students had the time already available, and they were all online and attempted the exam.
Laptop (no mobile phone) and projector device with a sufficient large monitor screen were placed at a distance of about 2 meter, so that the screen contents and the participants were clearly visible. For control purposes, and to make the exam transparent, the allocated teaching staff members were present constantly to observe the students at all the time during exam. Participants were directed about the conditions and procedure of exam; those conditions were checked carefully before the exam began. Participants must fixed their mobile phone (landscape) or laptop at a certain distance, and if necessary, they must move their camera around the room in order to prove that no one else in the room.
Students were sent Zoom Meeting ID; Password and link in their class groups one hour before starting the exam, and were directed to login with their full name by clicking on the link provided. Zoom has compiled a list of all participants who joined the meeting. Getting started was quite difficult. In review, a start-of-class tutorial was supposed to be done on how to use and connect on Zoom to avoid the initial obstacles and to escape the wastage of time. But after few minutes, things went more smoothly. Questions and answers could have been heard by the participants but this would have disrupted the exam. Thus, questions were only allowed to ask in really urgent cases, e.g. if there is any suspicion of mistake or error in the question paper. Participants were allowed to ask their problem and can enter their queries in a chat window of zoom. During exam, browser window must be maximized to full screen size and must be visible at all the times. Other windows (e.g. Zoom window) must not be visible.
Students were directed to take a snapshot of their answer-sheet, write their name on it, and submit it to the head of examination via zoom or WhatsApp before leaving the Zoom session.
What will we do next? Together with the online session or assessments, we intend to prepare some activities ahead of time; we will do this anyway for the course. I want our students to be even more engaged in moving forward. The challenge is to get involved the students with enthusiasm in online education. I don’t want wasting of their time and attention owing to COVID19 lockdown.
So far, the experience of online teaching and conduction of exam went smoothly. We appreciate students’ patience in our technology endeavors. Students and parents appreciated and valued the efforts of CPS&C in online teaching classes and said that this step would be very useful in helping them with their studies during COVID19 pandemic.
Stay Home Stay Safe & Stay Healthy
Chinese Language Instructor,
CPS&C, Cantonment Board