The deadly coronavirus has spanned across the globe and has impacted 29 states and union territories in India leading to a total lockdown declared by the Prime Minister. Keeping in mind that the University campuses with their congregate surroundings are considered particularly susceptible to contagion, SRM AP announced suspension of classes on 16th March 2020 till the end of April. This imposes a host of challenges to the students who are experiencing unprecedented ripple effects pertaining to their academics.
What are the measures taken by SRM AP to combat COVID-19?
From travel restrictions to national quarantines and self-isolation requirements, measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the students in the time of a swiftly transforming global health emergency. Immediately after the declaration of suspension of online classes, the students were requested to vacate the campus within 2 days, so that they can travel to the safety of their home and maintain self-isolation. The international students were advised to stay back in the campus and weekly health check-up by Medical Officer, Dr. Lakshmi Rajyam was organized and was made mandatory for the students. IT-Km Helpdesk was developed to answer the queries of the parents and students associated with the updates and decisions undertaken in view of the pandemic.
Furthermore, in lieu of the situation, SRM AP has sensitized the students, faculty, and staff by conducting a session on 6th March 2020 to create public awareness. Organized by the Department of Biology, the lecture session was coordinated by Prof. Jayaseelan Murugaiyan, Head of the Biology/Biotechnology Department. The lecture was split into 3 sessions- "Biology of Coronavirus" by Prof. C. Durga Rao, Dean-SLABS, "Coronavirus diagnosis" by Prof. Jayaseelan Murugaiyan, Head of the Biology/Biotechnology Department, and "Precautionary measures and handling the infection" by Dr. Lakshmi Rajyam, Medical Officer. The details of the session can be found here: https://srmap.edu.in/awareness-campaign-covid-19-coronavirus/.
Also, SRM AP has come forward to contribute to the Corona Virus Public Relief Fund. Please view the details here: https://srmap.edu.in/news/srm-ap-joins-covid-19-fight-with-a-donation-of-25-lakhs/
How technological innovation has paved the way for online classes?
Responding to the disruption in academics, in less than a week SRM AP has proactively joined what might be the world’s largest remote learning experiment. Given its infrastructural adequacy and openness to new technology, SRM AP could come up with the online classes in a limited window of time. To minimize the adverse impact of the outbreak on the learning graph of the students, SRM AP has collaborated with Zoom Platform where they host online classes to ensure that the academic progress of the students do not get compromised.
What is the present scenario?
At present, over 40-60 classes are being conducted online daily, where the students are intimated regarding their schedule a day prior. Faculty members are preparing online polls, quizzes, and assignments to engage the students. Moreover, various LMS platforms - GSuite Classroom, Moodle, etc. are being used by the faculty to share the reading materials with the students. SRM AP has developed an exclusive helpdesk for faculty and students to reach out to, regarding any support regarding the online classes. Regular feedback is sought from students and faculty members to enhance the learning experience through online classes.
How faculty and management has collaborated?
Quickly and proactively the management and the faculty community became adept at harnessing their technological expertise for managing virtual classrooms. It would be otherwise impossible to pull off this alternative pedagogy without rigorous and prompt action by faculty and staff members. Dr. Ragunathan, Professor and Head of the Department, Computer Science and Engineering and Dr. Murali Krishna Enduri, Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering along with support from the management took charge in preparing time-table, scheduling the online classes, and ensuring effective maintenance of the systems. Seeking to bridge the digital gap, the faculty ensured that students without access to internet bandwidth required to participate in live streaming classes or who are grappling with poor internet connections, are provided with lecture playbacks through the Zoom Platform.
What are the features of the online classes using the Zoom Platform?
The various features of the online classes through Zoom include:
1. The teachers have redesigned their lectures, considering the limitations of a virtual classroom.
2. The Learning Management System, Chats, Polls, Digital Pads, etc. are being used to make the session productive and interactive.
3. Virtual Labs are also being set for the benefit of students.
4. Faculty members prepare video lectures and upload to Google classroom. Discussions of the lecture materials are held through Zoom Platform. Some also conduct remote teaching.
What is expected out of students?
In the present scenario, students are advised to:
1. Access to the online classes through Zoom Platform. Students must download the application on their laptop/ tablet/ mobile phone to attend the classes.
2. Students are advised to take the classes regularly and seriously as the attendance is recorded and will be considered for the final examination.
3. Our dedicated faculty and staff are rigorously trying to make the online classes a useful platform to learn from home under the circumstances. Students are encouraged to utilise the facility entirely.
4. Students are advised to use their internet bandwidth thoughtfully to completely utilise this opportunity that is available during this suspended academic session.
5. Students are advised not to travel to a friend’s home or Internet Café or any place in the pretext of accessing the internet.
6. All suggestions and feedback may please be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students are also advised to stay connected with their respective HODs for recent updates.
SRM AP wishes all the students a safe stay and hope that they productively engage themselves in this online teaching-learning opportunity to maximise the learning experience.
The university is confident that the relentless effort and commitment of all the faculty members and staff to make this endeavour successful will be apprehended, and students will undoubtedly reap the benefits.
This pandemic has compelled us to revolutionize the pedagogy to mitigate the challenges, which is also believed to shape the future of education. We also trust that we will emerge as a more equipped educational system by the end of this pandemic. Till then, hang on, extend the required support to the government and society by maintaining self-isolation and basic hygiene.