Aligarh: Professor MJ Warsi, Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University deliberated how English language teaching has been affected by the obligatory transition to synchronize online teaching since the pandemic outbreak.
He was delivering the inaugural talk on ‘Teaching English Online’ in the two-day online national seminar on ‘English Language Pedagogy at Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities’ of the Centre for Professional Development of Urdu Medium Teachers, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.
Quoting from Allen and Wood (2020), Prof Warsi pointed out: “We can’t replicate exactly what we do in face-to-face classes but we can find ways to achieve the same outcomes”.
“In the post-Covid scenario, online teaching became the cornerstone of modern higher education, but the concept existed even in the pre-pandemic days. In India—Engineering English, Business English, Medical English, and Aviation English were being taught online before the pandemic”, said Prof Warsi.
He emphasized: “Nevertheless, the transition to online mode has come with challenges, leading to debates on the nature of classes, and the future of examination. Realizing that the pandemic will last longer than expected, teachers all over the country moved apace to use online platforms such as Blackboard Learn, Skype, Google Hangouts, Classroom, Meet, Whereby, Zoom, WebRoom, Edmodo and Microsoft Teams for giving tutorials”.
“English teaching requires a different set of competencies and the task is more interactive. Teachers swiftly found ways to integrate real-time interaction by using multiple communication tools. The tutorials were made more flexible with a wide selection of resources”, said Prof Warsi.
He also spoke about the technological support for differently able students such as talking books enabled with Electronic Publication and Digital Accessible Information System.
“Online teaching has been beneficial in a number of ways. It has helped the teachers to answer more queries from students and it takes less effort and energy to handle a big class size”, said Prof Warsi.
Speaking on the prerequisites for online teaching, Prof Warsi pointed out that teachers need to have excellent skills in communication and time management.
Teachers need to be computer and social media savvy and should be sufficiently good in assessing students, he added.
“The online transition appears to be a win-win situation for both teachers and students. If it is developing the professional skills of teachers in alternative teaching methods, it is also helping students to not only reach their expected levels of knowledge—but also making them aware of technology which will be used continuously in updated forms throughout their post-study professional lives”, said Prof Warsi.
He spoke about the use of Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, GoogleDocs, and the integration of multimedia into curriculums.
Prof Warsi delineated the ‘Blended Learning’ concept of the University Grants Commission, which recommends 40 percent of courses to be taught online, and the rest to be delivered in offline classes.
He also talked about the Section 23 of National Education Policy 2020 titled, ‘Technology use and Integration’ focused on the creation of digital content, development of digital infrastructure, and capacity building to supervise the e-learning needs of colleges and institutions.