The unanticipated hiatus caused by COVID-19 has pushed teachers of government primary and upper primary schools to reach out via WhatsApp. In a bid to keep students engaged in the learning process, teachers are voluntarily sharing educational content on the platform. Through the WhatsApp groups, teachers are sharing learning content encouraging students to stay at home at the same time.
WhatsApp facilitates quick interactive learning process and enables teachers to circulate information or policies even in the remotest regions. Schools could also frame new teaching techniques immediately sending to teachers via the app.
The education department in Maharashtra has issued a circular asking teachers from each taluka of states to form a WhatsApp group with 100 members each. Briefing on the new turn of events, Mahavir Mane, Director, Primary Education, commented “The aim is to ensure that we are able to reach out swiftly to teachers residing in the most remote corners with new policies that the government is formulating. Rather than waiting for days for government circulars to reach schools, we can provide such information directly to teachers through WhatsApp.”
However, there is no compulsion in joining the group as explicitly stated by Mane, “We are not expecting every teacher in the state to join. Those who do not have phones can’t do so. However, the idea is that even if one school teacher from a particular place joins, he can then pass on the information to other members of his school.”
Assistant teachers are focused on sharing school-related information, learning activities, role-play and educational videos with both students and parents. Observing the unpredictability of school shutdowns, Hemant Katara, headteacher at Model English Medium Primary School, said, “During the lockdown, we observed the power of radio as an educational tool. It is also a way to share lessons with all the students who are unable to attend school due to public health concerns. We are using radio as an integral part of our programme.”
WhatsApp, similarly, has proved to be a reliable ground for sharing e-papers, e-books, comics and assignments without major hindrances in communication. Many teachers are in touch with students with active WhatsApp groups.