The Task Force, while recommending commencement of the semester on August 20 in online mode, had promised a mid-term review and feedback to the key stakeholders (students and teachers). Towards this end, the Task Force sought feedback from students and faculty last month through a questionnaire sent out by Google Forms. In all, 151 faculty members and 483 Integrated and PG students from 11 Schools have responded to the questionnaire sent by Google Forms.
From the responses, it is gratifying to learn that both students and faculty members have adjusted remarkably to the new normal and the semester has already crossed the midway stage without too many hitches. After reviewing the detailed feedback, the Task Force would like to suggest the following guidelines to all faculty members as we move forward to the completion of the semester and to the beginning of the semester for the freshers (also online) in November:
- In general, the Guidelines for Online Teaching prepared by the University’s CDLTR on behalf of the Task Force should be followed in spirit. The experience of the past 8 weeks of online teaching-learning activities shows us that those guidelines still hold good;
- Increase the number of asynchronous (pre-recorded) sessions in the mix of your classes. It seems that at least half the faculty are depending 100% on live, synchronous classes. It is good to share some short pre-recorded videos of say not more than 20 min each (making allowance for minor subject-wise variations) on key concepts or some other specific aspect of the topic being taught. These could be supplemented by sharing of PPTs and PDFs of course material.
- For those of you teaching live, synchronous classes, it is absolutely imperative that you record those sessions and share the recordings with the entire class, so that students who have attended the class can review the topic and those who missed it can access the lesson. It seems that about a third of the faculty are not sharing the recordings of live classes.
- As a thumb rule, live classes work well with smaller (<25) elective classes than with larger, mandatory classes. Especially with the latter (but not to the exclusion of the former), it is important to blend asynchronous sessions.
- It is advisable for live classes to not exceed 45-60 minutes per session because of screen fatigue, bad connectivity, data overload, and attention deficit. Student feedback suggests that some classes are stretching to two hours and more. Additionally, Heads and Deans of academic units may want to ensure that students have no more than 3-4 hours of synchronous classes, with breaks in between classes, on any given day.
- The University has conveyed its decision not to insist on mandatory attendance for online classes. From the students’ feedback, it seems that about half of the faculty are insisting on attendance.
- The Controller’s Office, on the recommendation of the Task Force, has already sent a circular regarding the preferred mode of evaluation for this semester and the weightages for continuous assessment and end-semester assessment. It has been suggested clearly that academic units must use a 50:50 formula for the same, while not putting undue weight on one single end-semester examination worth as much as 50 marks. Please follow those guidelines issued by the Controller of Examinations.
- In the online mode of interaction, it is extremely difficult to insist that students write live examinations for more reason than one, including bad connectivity and lack of an appropriate device to type. It is advised that faculty are a bit flexible in their administration of tests and exams, which should preferably be conducted asynchronously and with some additional time allotted for students to submit. Differently-abled students should also be kept in mind while administering such tests/exams.
- Heads and Deans may also consider coordinating the calendar within their respective academic units so that the students’ exams and assignments are all not stacked up around the same period. It is better if they are phased out so that the students’ do not feel the stress.
- As students are feeling quite isolated, without being able to experience the face-to-face dimensions of normal academic life, please explore if there are possibilities for involving students in department/school-level activities from their respective places of residence so that they feel connected. These could include webinars, discussions, invited lectures, proposal presentations, viva-voce examinations, etc., many of which are being done successfully by several departments across the campus.