Online Synchronous Teaching During a Pandemic: Investigation of Technology Efficacy and College Student Responses

Online Synchronous Teaching During a Pandemic: Investigation of Technology Efficacy and College Student Responses

Pallavi Sood (Chitkara Business School, Chitkara University, Punjab, India), Kulwant Kumar Sharma (Chitkara Business School, Chitkara University, Punjab, India) and Rajeev Kumar (Institute of Engineering and Technology, Chitkara University, Punjab, India)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.287620
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Abstract

As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rapidly across the globe, most educational institutions tried to address major challenges of engaging students in a productive way and disseminating knowledge through online learning. Given this consideration, the present study qualitatively explores the observations and experiences of a private university and giant strides taken by the institution in adapting and delivering value to all the stakeholders through educational transformation during the pandemic. The data was collected using observations and in depth interviews. The findings of the study revealed that the university went through certain structural changes and modified teaching pedagogy for virtual delivery like providing support and training to the faculty before shifting completely to online mode and delivering the sessions online in both synchronous and asynchronous mode. The results of the study are likely to help transform and address the major challenges of engaging students in a productive way and disseminating knowledge through online learning during a pandemic.
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Introduction

During the early 20th century, a pandemic of Influenza engulfed the globe costing millions of people their lives. Till Dec 2019, no one ever imagined that a similar pandemic flu was going to visit the global comity of nations again and take a toll on human lives at similar scale. As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rapidly across the globe, the countries and their economies were left with no other choice but to lockdown all the sectors. Suffering has been in equal measure for both the developed and developing countries. Amongst all this alarming muddle of economics, finance, sustenance and survival paranoia, people all across the world suffered colossally. Countless people lost their jobs and had no choice but to depend on social handouts and government aid to get basic necessities each day. There were some heartbreaking visuals of people marching on foot in India, for a never-ending journey to reach their homes in faraway states. Many flew out of the countries where they were working and headed back home, only to find themselves in a dire strait. Apart from the sectors like finance, industry, agriculture and services, corona virus steadily swept its way around the education sector and its impact was more than visible all across the globe (Economic Times, July 21st2020).

As per the UN Report (August 2020), the world had nearly 250 million children out of school and as many as 800 million adult illiterates even before the pandemic broke on the scene. The present disruption in education system at global level due to COVID-19 pandemic has been considered as the largest in history. It has affected nearly 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries all around the globe. The report further notices that nearly 94% of the students’ population has been affected due to schools and other educational centers’ closure in the last six months. Adverse impact has been more severe in low and lower middle-income countries, affecting nearly 99% of the student population. The UN Report urged all countries to prevent this learning crisis.

Figure 1.

Covid 19’s Impact on Global Education

IJWLTT.287620.f01

Source: United Nations Report on ‘Education during Covid 19 and beyond’, August 2020.

The above figure shows the number of learners affected by national closures of educational institutions globally. The figure indicates that more than 90 percent of the learners in both low and high income countries had to stay out of educational institutions due to closures.

It was like any other day for everyone when suddenly there was a newsflash all over the world media revealing a strange communicable disease outbreak from Wuhan in China. The first case of the virus can be traced back to November 17, 2019 in China's Hubei province, which eventually became an epicenter before it rapidly spread abroad (The Economic Times, December 3, 2020).

At the beginning of February 2020, only schools and universities in China and a few other affected countries were closed down due to the virus transmission. However, by mid March 2020, almost all the countries across the globe implemented or announced that schools and universities must be closed. As of now, the crisis and unparalleled education disruption is far from over. Almost about 100 countries have yet to announce a date for schools to reopen and across the world, governments, unions, parents and children are grappling with when and how to approach the next phase (United Nations Report on ‘Education during Covid 19 and beyond’, August 2020). It also appeared that the educational institutions would be the last ones to open, and that too if only the transmission can be arrested or transmission curve is fully flattened. As the UN report (2020) states, the close down of educational institutes affected millions of learners across the world and forced the education sector to look for and pursue various alternatives. As a result, most educational institutions have addressed major challenges of engaging students in a productive way and disseminating knowledge through online learning.

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