Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey teachers leave us kids alone’ has a cult status when it comes to exhibiting the irreverent in each of us as students. But what happens when teachers don the mantle of being the taught? Times such as ours, have made technology the game changer in the simple transaction of teaching-learning between student and teacher across varied levels, be it school, college, or as in our case – the virtual classroom. So at a time when ‘connect’ is the buzz word, neither teachers nor students can leave the other partner alone.
Teachers today have a pressing need to stay abreast of technology to be able to translate the knowledge into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption. And as a platform which gets learners and trainers together, we take our training of instructors very seriously.
Our aim at LearnSocial is to enable anyone to learn from anywhere at any point of time. If we take a direct reciprocal of that, in terms of teaching, the aim is as much to enable anyone (of course this means anyone with a specific knowledge and skill base) to be able to teach from anywhere at any point of time. And while we are enabling learning, we are enabling teaching in equal measure by making teachers equal stakeholders as we train them to teach on our platform. In that quest, we train the trainer, thus enabling him/her to deliver his lesson with efficacy and precision.
For any instructor to be eligible for our platform, subject matter expertise, communication skills and real experience in the field form the basic criteria for selection. And from here starts the journey of teaching the teacher or training the trainer, whatever you’d like to call it. As we train the instructor on the basic nitty-gritty of using the synchronous online conferencing tool and the Learning Management System, most of the training effectively revolves around the basic principles that govern teaching in any ordinary classroom. A quiet room where there is no sound disturbance, switching the microphone on and off at appropriate times, prior information on any pauses during the session – all of these form the basic guideline to the instructors. We equip the trainer to be able to handle any basic audio/video trouble that the learners may face. They are also walked through all features of the LMS tool to utilize all features in the tool to make the session interactive and reiterative at points where needed.
The challenge with courses such as ours is that there will never be a homologous composition in any given batch. A batch which, on an average ranges between 10 and 15 students could have a fresher out of college, a professional with a couple of years of experience or someone who simply is there for the love of learning. So the first thing we tell our teachers is to know the students’ background in advance and then plan the content in a manner which is relevant, organized and clear. They ought to have a clear agenda and set the expectations right, right at the start of the batch.
In a bid to simulate the same environment as in a real classroom, the instructor can be seen by all learners and vice versa, thus enabling the former to gauge from the expressions if his point has been hitting home or not. Since live sessions can have some unanticipated disruptions, our instructors are advised to clarify when a learner can seek an answer to his query – at the end of the session or while the point has just been spoken of by the instructor.
Every course experience needs to be personalized. This simply means that learners are guided to come up with creative solutions, think independently and be able to do stuff on their own once the course comes to an end. At the end of each individual session, the instructor needs to dwell upon whether the learners can implement whatever has been taught and how would the learning improve their chances in their work sphere.
The principles of basic pedagogy will remain the same be it a real or a virtual classroom. However for a virtual classroom, the instructor has a greater opportunity to be one up on his counterpart in the real brick and mortar space. For one, even as a teacher, he/she is constantly skilling himself/herself with the training wherewithal that an e-learning platform offers. And two, he/she has a reach to a student community that transcends the geographical confines of space. With the smartening up of content delivery on account of technology and the training that e-learning set-ups provide, the instructor in a virtual classroom is ready to take off into a sky of infinite possibilities.