Academic Continuity– Classrooms​

Although this document provides different format options to continue classes, however, given the high risk exposure associated with physical classrooms, it is recommended that online learning is considered for academic continuity planning, ensuring compliance to any regulatory requirement at any given point in time.

 

Given the physical restrictions posed by COVID-19, especially when lockdown is imposed in various regions, using technology and the internet to ensure continuity of classes has been a widely utilised mode of operation for various HEIs. It not only allows the continuity of classes, but also minimises the risk of exposure given the high rate of transmission of the coronavirus. This section aims to address the various advantages and challenges of online learning, and the various checkpoints that may be considered while planning e-classrooms.

 
 
TEACHING & LEARNING (T&L) ACTIVITIES

E-Classroom T&L Strategy

To plan effective teaching and learning in an online mode, we would need to adopt a structured approach to planning the course implementation of an HEI. For this, the following steps have been recommended:

  • Course Classification
  • Course Customisation
  • Student Analysis
  • Delivery Methodology Identification
  • Content Customisation

 

Course Classification

HEIs could consider COVID-19 related disruptions as an opportunity to review the structure of courses. At a minimum, the courses need detailed classification based on the nature of the course. This can include but not be limited to the following classification categories:

  1. Core courses (defined at the department level for each program and year)
  2. Elective courses: Single department vs Cross-listed electives
  3. Mandatory courses (e.g. Students across all departments/schools in the university need to get at least the pass grade in Environmental Science, or English language in several institutions)
  4. Course of Independent Studies or Research Courses (full credit, semester long courses where individual students work under the guidance of individual faculty member to define course objective, course study plan, and conduct research on the decided theme)

Given the high risk exposure associated with physical classrooms, it is recommended that online learning is considered for academic continuity planning.

The courses can also be classified based on pedagogical components involved. Following are examples (the list is not exhaustive):

  1. Theoretical courses (only course readings and classroom lectures with no associated field or lab work)
  2. Courses including laboratory experiments (primarily in Sciences, Engineering, Medicine)
  3. Courses involving field work (e.g. as in social sciences)
  4. Clinical courses (e.g. Legal Aid Clinics)
  5. Studio Courses (e.g. in Architecture, Design)
  6. Courses run in Seminar mode (mostly in D.)
  7. Practicums, hands-on workshops, and Internships (internal and external)
  8. Moot Courts (for Law schools)
  9. Others (based on discipline and institution)

Such a classification is necessary for any ACP since the infrastructural and procedural requirements will vary for different types of courses.

 

Course Customisation

Given the uncertainty of phases of lockdown, the period of the ongoing pandemic and the duration for which the institution may need to continue online classes, it would be safer to plan a course strategy with an assumption that the entire semester needs to be implemented online. Accordingly, an analysis should be undertaken for every course being offered at the institution. This should include:

1. Feasibility Analysis

  • The feasibility of a course implementation in online mode in
  • A more granular level analysis of the modules within the course to understand the feasibility of online implementation and potential of self-contained experiences within the

2. Course Objective Analysis

  • Identification of the course objective and segregation of the course objectives to identify the important, and the peripheral elements
  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment Methodology

3. Customisation Requirement Analysis

  • Understanding the course modules which can be delivered online
  • Understanding the course modules which may not be feasible for online implementation due to pedagogical or any other constraints; and then diving deeper to understand the corresponding course objectives of these modules, and customising the module to feasible online implementation in order to achieve the desired objective in the absence of a specific technology-based solution to drive the desired

It would be safer to plan a course strategy with an assumption that the entire semester needs to be implemented online.


Alternative Planning

Identify those aspects of a course (or the entire course) which may not be feasible to implement. Planning the way forward could include:

  • Procuring the desired technology (subject to cost-benefit analysis)
  • Deferring the course/module to another semester (cannot be implemented for graduating batches)
  • Collaborate with other institutions which have been able to deliver the course and seek their resources on paid/unpaid basis (subject to cost-benefit analysis)
  • Identify pre-existing MOOCs which can be utilised (subject to cost-benefit analysis)
  • Collaborate with Online Programme Management (OPM) vendors to seek consultation on designing the desired online content

Instead of delivering a lecture, the course instructors can consider using fipped classrooms.


Student Analysis

Within Indian the context, the course instructor has always played a central role in traditional classrooms by acting as an authority on the subject-matter. The online format presents an opportunity to come out of this model and engage with students as active learners while not being physically present within the same space. Instead of delivering a lecture, the course instructors can consider using flipped classrooms. In this approach the faculty can assign the theoretical component as pre-reads for the class and utilise the classroom time for practical applications including discussions on real-life case-studies, solving numerical problems, or any other practical component associated with the course. The goal should be to ensure engagement of at least as many students as that in physical classrooms. To plan the methodology, the faculty may want to perform a rough analysis of their class to understand the population of students. The following categorisation may be used –

  1. Category 1 – Self-motivated students who can remain highly engaged, and have the desired infrastructure
  2. Category 2 – Self-motivated students who can remain highly engaged, however, do not have the desired infrastructure
  3. Category 3 – Students with average interest in regular classes due to their inhibitions, however, are motivated to engage in online classes due to lesser social anxiety and more engaging multimedia content
  4. Category 4 – Students with low interest in general

Based on this analysis, the faculty may now choose the way to customise the content, use creative means to engage students, and most importantly, decide the delivery methodology required to deliver the class.


The other two parameters which the institution can consider based on feasibility are:

  • Class size – Class size reduction will enable a stronger faculty-student ratio and therefore ensure higher- quality The online classes may prompt universities to merge sections, thus, increasing the class size. This can be counterproductive unless compensated through other avenues for interaction and doubt- clarification for the students (synchronous or asynchronous).
  • Class duration – Shorter classes can help ensure a better attention span of the students and therefore better engagement. However, given its inversely proportional effect on the number of classes which the students may have to attend, this should be carefully evaluated before implementation.

 

Delivery Methodology Identification

While the following main methodologies can be used to deliver the online classes, the above categorisation of students can be used to understand the various proportions in which the following methodologies should be used.

  1. Synchronous – Teaching live and having student-faculty interactions
  2. Asynchronous – Sharing content in various formats including audio/video recordings, videos, documentaries, movies, reading material, presentations, e-books etc. with students consuming the content at their own pace and time of choice

Hybrid – During live virtual classes, most sessions are happening at present with videos remaining off for students or even course instructors due to internet bandwidth constraints. Even audio remains patchy in most cases making interactions among course participants a difficult task. Thus, the body language related cues remain largely unavailable to the instructors. This makes synchronous discussions challenging. Thus faculty may explore hybrid means to conduct classes and can use the following means to create/add an element of interaction to the asynchronous means:

  • Social Media – The faculty can utilise social media platforms including WhatsApp or Facebook to create course specific groups and use these for engaging students in asynchronous discussions related to the
  • Discussion boards The students can also actively share their learnings, resources they find insightful, and ask questions that can be answered by their peers or Free platforms like Piazza (www.piazza.com) that have been created for academic discussions can also prove to be very useful for asynchronous discussions, asking and responding to questions (including options for doing so anonymously), and sharing resources. Such spaces can be made accessible to future batches also and can prove to be useful beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Platforms that allow threaded posts (replies nested under one post) and the possibility to categorise, pin, or tag posts (e.g. Piazza, Slack, or even Facebook) will be more useful than chat apps like WhatsApp.

The faculty can utilise social media platforms including WhatsApp or Facebook to create course specifc groups and use these for engaging students in asynchronous discussions related to the course.

 

Content Customisation

Under the conditions of continuing education from home, students will not have access to libraries, reading rooms, or hostel rooms. The studying and reading environment in various households given the presence of multiple family members or space limitations may not be conducive for focused reading of long texts. This could limit the concentration and attention span of students during the off-class studying and thereby pre- reads and post-reads can be highly ineffective. In fact, even the most motivated students in the class may find it tough to navigate the traditional text-heavy content, especially if they do not have access to physical textbooks.

Thus, the course content will need to be modified to limit the duration required to read the material, use diverse formats of content delivery and also suit the digital screens.

In order to achieve this, the following techniques may be utilised:

  • Use of short length pre-reading material, and more engaging digital content (including videos, podcasts, audio books ) that students can consume under constrained conditions will prove useful.
  • Faculty can utilise the highlight feature of PDF readers or mobile applications (like Pocket) to highlight the most relevant text to help students with pre-class
  • Sections of videos or podcasts can be time stamped for relevance to the course.

The course content will need to be modified to limit the duration required to read the material, use diverse formats of content delivery and also suit the digital screens.


Pedagogy & Experiential Learning

The institutions also need to take a call on the pedagogical elements that will be permitted or restricted. For example, courses requiring travel for field work which are for penultimate batches could be postponed for later semesters. Alternatively, these can be converted into digital ethnographies wherever possible. Certain courses with laboratory or studio components may be modified to utilise virtual tools (labs, design platforms) for the upcoming semester, with short workshops designed to cover these components in later semesters to allow hands- on learning. When such virtual lab facilities are not accessible or available, alternative modes of delivery may be considered. Therefore, adapting the pedagogic elements to suit online learning will be warranted.

 

The present crisis presents an opportunity to reconsider the role of student and teacher in the teaching-learning process and move away from teacher-centric to student-centric pedagogies. The student needs to be considered as an active partner in the process who bears greater responsibility for driving one’s own learning using the diversity of content that is accessible through the internet. The role of the teacher needs to change from active disseminator of content to a facilitator of learning – a person responsible for guiding students to valuable resources, for helping students ask the right questions, for clearing doubts, and for designing assessments to help students identify the gaps in their knowledge and understanding.

 

The classification of courses based on pedagogical components has already been discussed above (see Course Classification section). Given the nature of the pedagogy, some approaches on the way forward have been recommended below.

 

Theory Focused Courses

The theory-heavy courses are relatively easy to manage. An upgraded course outline that clearly lays down the objectives for each module and session, maps the readings to each session, and provides guiding questions can act as a self-study unit. A good selection of study material available freely on the internet (open source) or via library website (e-resources) will ease transition to distance learning. Moving beyond textbooks or text heavy readings to visually engaging content (short videos, illustrative guides, podcasts, etc.) can improve student engagement. The teachers can also record short videos explaining the concepts, and the classroom session can be used to discuss the interconnections among concepts and their complex applications, i.e. a flipped classroom model. (Refer previous section on T&L Strategy)

 

HEIs across India can identify the technology and bundle the requirements to identify cost- effective procurement with organisations that provide virtual laboratory experience.

 

Courses Involving Laboratory or Studio Work

Lab work focused courses are a norm in Science, Engineering, and certain streams in Medicine. Studio work is most common in Design and Architecture. Such courses often have theory sessions integrated with lab or workshop activities. The following options can be explored:

  • Technology The HEIs across India can identify the technology and bundle the requirements to identify cost-effective procurement with organisations that provide virtual laboratory While a lot of Studio work involves physical work on materials, institutions can consider providing students access to software to work virtually.
  • Lab Recordings – The laboratory/workshop staff and faculty members can perform experiments and video record the These recordings can be shared with the students.
  • Past Data – While performance of experiments provides hands-on experience to students, another goal is to utilise the data generated from experiments performed by different groups in the class to generate insights about the Therefore, the faculty can draw upon data from experiments performed by previous batches and assign one set of data to each group. This can then become the basis of online discussions on experimental parts of the course.

 

Courses Involving Field Work

Much of the field work will remain suspended due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Even though the curfews have been lifted, the risk of travelling to sites for field work remains high, for researchers, as well as participants, or curfews could be reimposed in areas with high/rising infection numbers. In such cases, possibilities of accomplishing field work via virtual interactions and site visits can be considered. The following options may be considered:

  • Digital Ethnography – This is a well-established field now and increased usage of the internet over the past few months by different sections of society provides new opportunities to explore novel themes for field
  • Collaborations and Past Data – Institutions can engage social sector organisations with extensive field presence to provide students and faculty members access to past data of the
  • Recreate a Virtual Experience – Engaging in discussions through audio/video calls with academics who have done a similar field visit could be These researchers can provide the students details of the experiences they had on the field using a storytelling narrative to create a virtual field work experience.

 

Clinical Courses and Moot Courts (for Law)

At present, there are a plethora of clinical courses that have been shifted online. While the challenges associated with virtual interactions remain, under current circumstances, this seems to be the only viable model. This process can be facilitated by:

  • Technology aided moot courts – Utilise technology based moot court This may in fact aid the training of students for technology driven remote hearing which we can anticipate in a post-corona world.
  • Virtual Clinics
  • Virtual Moot Courts – Utilise video conferencing to organise online Moot

The institutions may consider utilising free or reasonably charged MOOCs available on a diversity multiple (e.g. Swayam, Coursera, NPTEL, EdX, etc.).

 

Practical Courses Requiring Physical Examination (Medicine)

While some medical students may actually engage in COVID-19 Wards as frontline warriors, the others may continue their medical field training through:

  • Video Conference – The faculty utilises past data and creates a virtual experience for the
  • Augmented Reality(AR) – AR Glasses have been developed to enable virtual The doctors on ground can wear these, while the students can view the class remotely. However, this will be based on a cost-benefit analysis, and have a major dependence on high quality network infrastructure. Imperial College6, London, has already started the use of these for its students.

 

Utlisation of MOOCs

Depending upon their individual circumstances7, the institutions may consider utilising free or reasonably charged MOOCs available on multiple platforms (e.g. Swayam, Coursera, NPTEL, EdX, etc.) for course delivery. A select committee can invite area faculty and students to suggest high quality courses available online, evaluate the options, and suggest the top course(s) on one or more platforms that can be offered during the semester and are eligible for credits during the semester. While utilising MOOCs, three areas to be considered will be:

  • Self-study Modules – Utilise certain short courses as modules within specific core or elective courses that can be completed by students through self-study and an assessment can be associated with this module to ensure everyone completes these In case the courses are paid, the institution may negotiate for a bulk discount on course fees with the MOOC platform and either pay for all eligible students or consider other options, if necessary, feasible and compliant to regulations, such as the students’ next semester fees.
  • Credit Conversion- To ensure academic rigor and equivalence with institution offered courses, a final assessment in the form of an assignment or end-term examination conducted by the institution may be made mandatory for acceptance of credits from such The students may be allowed to take 20% to 40% credits in the form of these shortlisted MOOCs depending on what the regulatory bodies define as acceptable. This will allow students greater flexibility in completing credit requirements. It will also need to be in line with the UGC policy that allows students to take external credits for completing degree requirements from Swayam platform.
  • Faculty Intervention- Even when students are taking such MOOC credits, the faculty should have at least one doubt-clearing session every week, with doubts already collated before the session via Google Forms or on Piazza/Facebook group
 
 
ASSESSMENTS

Teaching presents a major challenge in distance mode for faculty. Course assessment requires an additional layer of consideration. The following pose additional challenges and should be considered while planning the overall assessment strategy of the institution.

  • Technical Limitations – Even when students can access online content (including classes), it cannot be assumed that they can submit online While attending classes using a smartphone is feasible, using the same device to type out assignments may not be practical. This requires access to a desktop or laptop.
  • Emotional Distress – It may be challenging for some students to deal with the pressure of an examination since during these extraordinary times, the students may not have an environment at home conducive to studying. They may lack a desirable study space and experience bouts of possible fatigue from involvement in household chores, occurrence of COVID-19 at home, or may even suffer from the anxiety caused by combined stress of pandemic and
  • Pedagogical Limitations – Mathematical assessments, or medicine based assessments may be difficult to replicate in an online This may require additional investment on technology.

 

Various formats which can be explored to conduct assessments:

  • Technology-driven, AI-enabled assessment
  • Digital submissions (word/excel/email/power point)
  • Utilise Learning Management Systems to plan assessments
  • Oral assessments/ Audio responses
  • Submission of images of handwritten answers using mobile camera

 

Given the limitations of certain formats, the faculty should consider the least common denominator while giving the assignments.

 

Given the limitations of certain formats, the faculty should consider the least common denominator while giving the assignments.

 

Continuous Assessment

Continuous assessment with a greater focus on learning rather than grading is likely to be more effective. Peer feedback and interaction over asynchronous platforms like Facebook groups or Piazza which provide threaded discussions could support course instructors in such continuous assessment. This can be accomplished with minimal technical support but the change required in the culture of the classroom will be significant. The present hierarchical relationship between teacher and students, and the absence of free interaction in most classrooms could translate to lesser interactions even in online modes. On the other hand, once established in any course successfully, the same tools can be utilised to enrich student learning and engagement even when students return to campus.

Following areas should be considered while planning the continuous assessments:

1. Type of assessments allowed or restricted: Which can be included and what components need to be excluded for different categories of courses and course components

2. Mode of conducting assessments (classroom participation/ online submission)

3. Protocols regarding submission

  • Mode of submission (via email, Learning Management System, )
  • Flexibility allowed in submission deadlines
  • Formats of submission (images of handwritten answers, Word documents; audio or video responses)

4. Protocols regarding evaluation

  • Mechanisms for evaluation and feedback
  • Timeframes allowed for evaluation, rechecking, and submission of grades
  • Declaration of results
  • Any change in policy regarding revaluation or resits

Continuous assessment with a greater focus on learning rather than grading is likely to be more effective.


End-term Examination

Mid-term and end-term examinations, the most common modes of assessment, will require synchronisation of start and end time which is challenging to achieve in the present circumstances. Also, ensuring the desired examination etiquettes and ethics while operating in an exam-from-home model will require technological intervention. Therefore, based on the feasibility and cost-benefit analysis done by an institution, the following options can be explored for remote examinations:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled Proctored Examination Software

This will allow replicating a sit-down examination with the required restriction on ensuring ethics. However, this will be subject to a cost-benefit analysis based on the regulatory requirements, the mandatory nature of examinations defined by UGC, the guidelines on physical exams, and corresponding costs and risk exposure.

  • Take-home, open book assignments or examination

This will need to be designed with greater focus on practical application of theory which tests the students on their ability to apply the concepts learned. The take-home examination or assignments cannot be designed in a similar manner as the routine, in-class examinations. The faculty members will need to create questions or tasks that cannot be copied from the internet and may be difficult for students to copy from each other. For example, based on specific, pre-decided parameters, the students may be asked to pick one or more organisations, equipment, cases, etc. for analysis. Given that the cases/institutions they choose for the assignment cannot be duplicated, will make mass customisation of assignment possible. As an alternate, the faculty can create a list of cases and assign a unique case to each student. This is more feasible in quantitative courses/assignments but with a little extra effort, can be done for all kinds of courses. The assignments can be processed through anti-plagiarism software (like Turnitin) to ensure that students maintain high ethical standards.

  • Viva based oral on-call tests or recorded audio responses to questions

Instead of depending on written submissions, short oral examinations can be scheduled since phone is something most students will have access to.

  • Summation of class assignment outcomes

Instead of grading at the end of the course, continuous assessments may be a better option under present circumstances. Even in continuous assessments, focus should be on learning instead of grading.

 

The following areas should be considered to design the examination methodology:

1.Mode of conducting assessments (from the above mentioned options)

2. Protocols regarding submission

  • Mode of submission (via email, Learning Management System, )
  • Flexibility allowed in submission deadlines, given the various constraints
  • Formats of submission (images of handwritten answers, Word documents, audio or video responses, )

3. Protocols regarding evaluation

  • Mechanisms for evaluation and feedback
  • Timeframes allowed for evaluation, rechecking and submission of grades
  • Declaration of results

4. Retake (Resit) examinations from previous semesters

  • Mode of such examinations
  • Scheduling of retake examinations
  • Declaration of results
  • Any changes in syllabus or formats of examination

5. Examination grading policy

  • Pass/fail
  • Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) / Marks
  • No-grades-all-pass
  • Hybrid

6. Specific customisation

  • Action to be taken for final year students who will be awarded a degree based on the exam outcome

The take-home examination or assignments cannot be designed in a similar manner as the routine, in-class examinations.


Thesis/Dissertation

Even traditionally, for thesis proposals/defence, several institutions have allowed virtual presentations. Either the student is presenting virtually or one or more of Thesis Advisors or Examiners join remotely (especially when they are based outside India). This practice can be made an acceptable and standardised mode of defending thesis proposal or thesis across all institutions.

 

NON-CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Extra-Curricular Activities

Students’ social and cultural life outside classrooms is a key part of institutional life across the world.

However, given the physical restrictions during a pandemic of this nature (COVID-19) physical formats of extra-curricular activities will not be feasible. Therefore, it is important to identify online activities which can replicate the experience and learnings for the students. Social media can further facilitate communication within student communities and beyond, making it possible to share new thoughts, perspectives, and ideas. Students can explore the potential of numerous virtual platforms, becoming part of student clubs or councils. Multiple events can be conducted in online format, bringing together students with similar academic and personal interests. The main objective is to remain as proactive as possible, and to maintain a sense of ‘normalcy’ under extraordinary circumstances. Depending on the objective to be achieved, the following can be considered for implementation:

 

Respite from academic pursuits

  • Develop new skills or knowledge through online courses on Coursera or similar platforms. The institutions can facilitate this by partnering with different organisations providing such options For example, a tie-up with Coursera, Udacity, EdX, etc. can allow students to take credit courses at no cost or for nominal fees.
  • Start learning new foreign

 

Student body bonding

  • Student bodies and clubs can organise online networking
  • Student bodies can collaborate internally, or across institutions to create online festivals which have events and competitions conducive to the online format. This could include cultural elements such as live musicians/performances as
  • Student clubs can organise online placement
  • Connecting students for informal discussions coordinated and monitored by the class representative.

Multiple events can be conducted in online format, bringing together students with similar academic and personal interests.

 

Literary/Cultural events

  • For cultural activities such as dance/music – online classes can be Students can be encouraged to create online dance-music collaborations.
  • For literary events – online elocutions, debates, and other such activities can be organised via video conferencing
  • Music Clubs can do online collaboration to create music
  • Dance Club members can record dance moves and collaborate to create videos
  • Organise webinars with recognised personalities

 

Physical activities

  • E-exercise – virtual platforms can be used to do physical exercises, such as Yoga, Pilates, (This is in case when sports clubs have also been shut down). Cure.fit or other such platforms can provide physical activity support.
  • Online sports gaming – The intrinsic values of sports are the spirit of teamwork and Virtual gaming such as ‘FIFA’ or other games related to sports can be utilised to create online sports events.

 

Given the limited activities possible, the focus can be more on building a student network across institutions and engaging in dialogues to plan extra-curricular activity based events and collaborations for a time post the coronavirus disruption.

 

Course instructors are a very important and active link between              the students and institution and hence, it is necessary that they facilitate interactions with students.

 

Faculty Office Hours and Faculty Student Interaction

During a course, students often interact with the course instructors outside class hours. Much of this is formalised in the form of designated office hours but exchange of emails and informal chats are also common.

The present situation has taken the face-to-face interactions out of the picture. Further, the students now do not have physical access to their friends on campus and may often be struggling in isolation. Some may be restricted by space and family members, as opposed to a hostel room and free access to libraries and reading rooms, while some may be engaged in family responsibilities. Some may be emotionally and financially under duress due to an earning family member rendered jobless by lockdown and economic turmoil, while others may have family members going out to support essential services like hospitals, sanitization, etc. and exposed to higher risk of catching infection.

 

Course instructors are a very important and active link between the students and institution and hence, it is necessary that they facilitate interactions with students for academic or non-academic support required in the form of discussions (notwithstanding the physical, psychological, and financial challenges they themselves might be facing, for which institutional management needs to create support structures). To facilitate this the following two systems should be put in place:

 

Office Hours

The faculty can provide 30-60-minute slots during the day when students can directly call them either individually or in group calls on media such as WhatsApp to discuss their challenges. One can expect the themes to move beyond the subjects being taught and involve mental and emotional challenges being faced by the students. While most teachers are not trained to help in such situations, they can support by actively listening to their students. Even without suggesting any solutions (in fact, they should refrain from suggesting any solutions and guide the students to the institution counsellors), such outlets that allow students to engage in open discussions should help and also contribute to better learning for students and healthier classroom interactions. The students should also be able to access the faculty for academic challenges being faced, given the constraints of online learning. Faculty office hours can take place in the following formats –

  • Appointment-based discussions at a specified hour
  • Ad-hoc WhatsApp calls/phone calls with the faculty
  • Faculty logs in on a pre-set link for a virtual call (Zoom/MS Teams/video-conferencing platforms) and students can log in and log out as desired

 

Student Mentorship

The institutions can create a formal mentorship programme for the students involving faculty members and senior students in case of junior batches under their guidance. Such mentorship should focus on providing students with a social circle, helping them in understanding institutional academic culture and norms, and supporting them in transition from school to institutional life even when working off campus. This minimal guidance and support will go a long way in ensuring that students can adjust to a new environment with ease.

 

It is recommended that mentorship assignments are put in place formally, and mentor-mentee discussions are recorded and developed into an action plan, which is shared with the mentee. These discussions can be tracked using the following template:

 

Mentor-Mentee Discussion Summary

Mentor Name

 

Student Name

 

Date

 

Follow-up of Previous Discussion

 

Topics Discussed

 

Open Concern Areas

 

Follow-up Plan

 

The institutions can create a formal mentorship programme for the students involving faculty members and senior students.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

Learning Management System (LMS)

As all interactions move into the online format, the number of e-interactions and emails can get challenging to manage and monitor, and thereby make the entire online learning process overwhelming for the students and faculty. Therefore, to streamline interactions and exchange of information, HEIs should consider the use of Learning Management Systems for all academic activities including:

  • Uploading relevant documents (course outlines, course readings for each individual session and module)
  • Managing student interactions during and after the class
  • Conducting assessments and evaluations
  • Integration of the online class platform with the LMS tool/placing the links on LMS

A consistent, institution-wide usage of such tools can minimise transaction efforts and streamline dissemination of information, as well as, delivery of academic content. The recordings of online or physical sessions should be uploaded on websites like YouTube, Vimeo etc. and links to each video should be updated in the relevant sessions in the course outlines placed on LMS to allow students seamless access to this content.

Several paid options are available for LMS such as TalentLMS or Adobe Captivate Prime, but some free ones are also available such as Google Classrooms and Piazza. Moodle is one of the popular LMS tools utilised.

 

Technology – Software

To facilitate smooth online classroom sessions, it is critical to identify a software which is collaborative in nature, and enables effective online teaching and learning. Some of the commonly used platforms include:

  • MS Teams
  • TCS ion
  • BlackBoard
  • Canvass
  • Zoom
  • Blue Jeans
  • Big Blue Button
  • Google Classroom

HEIs could consider the following as the criteria for selecting the LMS:

  • Collaboration – It should not only work as a conferencing software, but it should have features to enable collaboration among the students, and between the students and
  • Cost – A cost-benefit analysis should be Accordingly, licenced or open source software can be leveraged for the one which best suits the needs of the institution within its budget. Some of these platforms are also providing free of cost access to HEIs in India. These factors should be taken into consideration.

To streamline interactions and exchange of information, HEIs should consider the use of Learning Management Systems.

  • Scalability & Accessibility – The ability to scale the software for the number of students and faculty in the institution and access it in different
  • Privacy – Given the nature of discussions and the display of proprietary research of faculty, the privacy features of the software should be kept in
  • Flexibility – Various classes based on individual curriculum and pedagogy will need to complement the existing software with other applications or IT Therefore, one must account for the flexibility of the software to suit the needs of the disciplines and courses being taught.
  • Discipline – Apart from the dissemination of knowledge, it is essential that the class decorum is maintained at all times, not just through policies, but through technology-driven solutions as well.

Beyond the above mentioned points, HEIs need to take into consideration some additional features which may be essential to operationalise online classrooms. The following parameters may be used to perform a comparative analysis to make their choice of software:

Software Parameter Analysis

Area

Parameter

 

Scalability & Accessibility

Can this be accessed on a web browser?

What is the limit on the number of participants?

Can we dial in from the phone?

 

 

 

Classroom Discipline

Can the faculty mute all the participants?

Can participants unmute themselves?

Can a participant remove another participant from the session without consent?

Can the student participants mute the faculty without consent?

Can participants scribble on the whiteboard, or erase what has been written by the faculty?

 

 

 

 

 

Collaboration

Can participants share their screen?

Can the online session have breakout sessions with smaller groups of students?

Can the faculty share their screen?

Is there a chat feature?

Are there additional non-verbal features such as raise hand, go slow, go fast, which can enable participant communication without having to speak?

Can the faculty enable certain disabled features for the students on a selective basis?

Does it allow assessment & evaluation of students through quizzes, proctored exams etc.?

Does the platform give the facility to organise group discussions, activities like project presentations?

Can multiple participants share their screens simultaneously?

Cost

Does a paid licence need to be procured?

Are some of the above mentioned features available only at a certain price?

 

 

Flexibility

Can the software be integrated with other educational tools such as Polly?

Are there features to write equations/math symbols on Whiteboard?

Can we import/draw more sophisticated graphs and illustrations ?

Can polls be integrated into the software to engage students?

Does it offer a student programme monitoring facility?

Privacy

Can non-participants start recording without permission?

Can participants invite non-class/non-institution members?

 

Technology – Hardware

hardware to participate in the online classroom. This would essentially include:

  • Laptops/Desktops – These would be required for students to attend classes, and faculty to conduct their Given the nature of online classes, it is important to consider that the system has following:
    -Camera
    -Microphone
    -Software upgrades
    -Operating system upgrades
  • Stylus enabled Smart Tablets – To bridge the gap between the physical and virtual classrooms, a Stylus enabled Smart Tab can be used as a marker to write on top of presentations and as a complete replacement to a physical White-Board.

Alternatively having a smartphone/tablet can also ensure access to online classrooms. However, it may be challenging to use for assessments that require typing out long texts.

To ensure smooth and continuous online classes without any interruptions or fluctuations, continuous and uninterrupted power supply is important.


Power

To ensure smooth and continuous online classes without any interruptions or fluctuations, continuous and uninterrupted power supply is important. It is important that:

  • The supply is available continuously throughout the class to support the class continuity and
  • It is available sufficiently during non-class hours so that the faculty has sufficient time for research and preparation.


While this will be a function of the power backup implementation in the residences of students and faculty, some additional ways forward are:

  • Procure and supply Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) Devices – Supply UPS devices to faculty where distribution is The UPS device can be connected specifically to the Wi-Fi router, and ensures that during temporary power outage, the router continues to function and does not create fluctuation in ongoing classrooms.
  • Re-evaluate annual maintenance contracts – In case the faculty is based out of the institution-provided lodging, the institution can work closely with the Power Backup providers to reinstate their Service Level Agreements to have improved output.

Connectivity

Connectivity is key to taking classes online. The following should be key considerations:

  • Infrastructure & Devices
  • Bandwidth
  • Continuity

 

Infrastructure & Devices

  • It is recommended that broadband connections and devices are provided to faculty at their This will require additional router installation and broadband packages. The availability of good connectivity and devices for students should also be ascertained.

 

Bandwidth

  • A suggested 10-100 MBPS bandwidth could be enabled to ensure that the faculty is able to disseminate the required learnings, and files, and have at least their camera on for the duration of the
  • High-speed internet connection is important and therefore either high-speed broadband connection should be in place or the institution could provide a one-time allowance to faculty to get the connection and opt for monthly packages sufficient to cover data needs for

 

Continuity

  • It is critical to have primary and backup infrastructure in
  • FTTH (Fibre-to-the-Home) should be considered to ensure high-quality internet connection in the campus residence/hometowns.
  • Institutions may consider providing their faculty additional mobile phone data packages, or some level of reimbursement, to enable quick transfer to mobile internet in case of a Wi-Fi breakdown.

High-speed internet connection is important and therefore a high-speed broadband connection should be in place.

 

PROTOCOLS

Grading Policy

Under present circumstances, the institutions should definitely have an end-term examination. However, for the examination and assessments, they may consider changes in grading policies including changing assessment criteria in certain non-core subjects. The options that can be explored are:

  • Allow students to opt for a pass/fail grading for individual subjects (and avoid using these subjects in calculation of overall CGPA)
  • Reduce pass percentage for each course
  • Change the criterion for conversion of percentages to letter grades
  • Remove policy of relative grading for one semester
  • Use absolute grading instead of relative

 

Since the outcomes of these changes will be imprinted on grade cards of all students, these may have long-term implications. Further, regulatory requirements on exceptions and changes allowed for fulfilling degree requirements should be taken into consideration before finalising the policy. Thus, a coordinated effort by institutions and regulators will be required.

 

Attendance

The institutions need to modify the attendance policies. Given the possibility of asynchronous learning and poor connectivity during synchronous sessions leading to students dropping out of sessions, 70-75% attendance mandated by most regulators and institutions may not be feasible. Therefore, institutions should focus more on ensuring effective learning for the students as a measure of a student’s success and not attendance which may not be the right reflection of a student’s participation, given the possible constraints due to personal reasons, health limitations, or lack of infrastructure. To ensure this, the institutions can implement the following three systems as a replacement for attendance:

  • Continuous Assignments – Instead of input-based measures like classes attended, a better measure could be submission of assignments on time. The regulators, as well as institutions need to provide modified attendance policies before a semester The exceptions granted should not create a hurdle for students in fulfilling the degree requirements.
  • Unique Class Assessment – Since availability of recordings may deter students from joining live classes, faculty may provide students short 15-minute assignments based on the content of class learning, which ensures that students go through the class content in one way or the
  • Periodic interaction with parents – Additionally, to avoid misuse of the flexibility provided, a system could be put in place to share a weekly attendance report of the students with their However, for this, the institution needs to define what qualifies as attendance (minimum 30 minutes attended/logged in during the first 5 minutes/present during multiple roll calls during the class).

 

Student Code of Conduct

Online classrooms are vulnerable to misconduct which may have been controlled under the scope of a physical classroom. This can include:

  • Pushing students or faculty out of the virtual class
  • Muting the faculty
  • Scribbling on the whiteboard or deleting what the faculty has written
  • Inappropriate chatting and display of audio/video

 

Two key approaches to ensure e-classroom discipline are:

  • Technology enabled restrictions
  • Policy enabled discipline

 

Technology driven approach

A large part of this can be controlled by enabling technology. Therefore, while identifying the online classroom software, there can be two types of rights – Presenter and Attendee.

 

Institutions should focus more on ensuring effective learning for the students as a  measure of a student’s success.

 

Presenter Rights/Restrictions

  • Able to mute any participant
  • Able to give entry to participants
  • Able to remove any participant
  • Able to share screen
  • Able to authorise any participant with additional rights such as screen-sharing
  • Able to record the session

 

Attendee Rights/Restrictions

  • Unable to mute/unmute other participants
  • Unable to add/remove other participants
  • Unable to share screen unless authorised by the faculty
  • Unable to record

As per default settings, faculty can be provided Presenter rights, and students can be provided Attendee rights. Over and above this, any other participant such as IT/Teaching Associates/Specific Students such as Class Representatives(CR) can be provided additional rights based on faculty authorisation only.

 

Policy driven approach

While technology can be used to place certain restrictions on the participation of students, some level of flexibility will have to be put in place to ensure collaboration. Therefore, it is important to define the following:

  • Code of Conduct in the classroom
  • Code of Conduct regarding assignments, and non-class work, especially around plagiarism
  • Policy on usage and data privacy of class recording
  • Disciplinary actions for misconduct

 

Additionally, the following exercises can help ingrain discipline in the very culture of online classrooms:

  • Frequent informal emails
  • Re-iteration of importance of code of conduct by faculty at the start of a class
  • A workshop or webinar at the commencement of a term, and once at the midpoint of the semester stressing the importance of discipline.

While technology can be used to place certain restrictions on the participation of students, some level of flexibility will have to be put in place to ensure collaboration.

 

Faculty Training on E-teaching

In present circumstances, sticking to the predefined course outline and not modifying it to suit online classrooms may prove problematic since a uniform course delivery may not be possible across all constituent colleges. It may be useful to allow individual faculty members certain flexibility in curriculum delivery and even assessment based on the recommendation in the previous sections. However, this will require training all faculty members in curriculum planning and development and involving them in curriculum revision. The Professional Learning Committees can act as a good platform to take such initiative. Also, given the need to move from blackboards to online screen sharing, the faculty across institutions will need to be provided with the right support to enable a smooth transition.

 

To retain the pedagogy and the curriculum in an online mode, technology will need to be utilised creatively. However, for that, the faculty will need some forms of training:

  • Technology Training – To understand the software and how to use various subordinate applications to enhance their
  • Best Practices Training – To understand creative ways of engaging students online through surveys or polls. Therefore, it would help to document the best practices used by the faculty or experts from the industry and circulate it among the
  • Virtual Teacher Training – To make faculty aware of MOOCs which can be used (Coursera/Swayam) to enrich their Institutions that have experience of using online platforms for delivering courses in the past can also conduct webinars and virtual workshops that can be attended by faculty members from any institution.
  • Faculty Network – Create a discussion board which connects faculty with each other to discuss the various ways of better utilisation of technology to facilitate learning and
  • Engage Student Support – The current generation of students being more tech-savvy can be engaged to support the older faculty who may have inertia in using Therefore, assigning one student to each faculty during the classroom may provide them the required support.

 

In addition to this, the following resources or actions may further enable, streamline, and standardise the online teaching methodology of faculty:

  • Central training repository – Engage with central educational authorities to create a central training repository which can then ensure standardisation of e-content preparation across
  • Provide free access to relevant MOOCs – There are online MOOCs on online education which can be purchased in bulk for the faculty to train
  • AIU sponsored free online self-paced capacity building programme – This is developed by QASPIR to train teachers in online teaching. The overview is available at- https://aiu.ac.in/documents/index/announcement/AIU_QASPIR_Online_Course.pdf
  • Online Programme Management (OPM) – Based on a budget analysis, institutions may also tie up with OPMs which provide professional consulting on how to adapt the curriculum to the online
  • Cross-training – Develop a cross-training programme during the break periods for the faculty to understand best practices from each other.

The current generation of students being more tech-savvy can be engaged to support the older faculty.


Mental Health and Well Being

The current pandemic has caused a lot of emotional duress to people across the nation. This has further aggravated the state of mental stress caused by everyday life in the current century. Additionally, while families have to deal with pay cuts and job losses, they have to engage in work from home, while the children also need access to the resources to study from home. Also, given that students do not have access to the emotional and social network of being on campus, and everyday contact with peers is limited, this may have a negative impact on mental wellness. Under such circumstances, it is important we explore the following mental wellness options:

Access to Counselling

  • On-board a team of counsellors who are available on call/email
  • Tie up with online counselling platforms such as ‘YourDost’ which provide 24X7 online counselling services and various discussion boards
  • Peer-to-peer sharing via anonymous written pieces or virtual hearing sessions can be
  • Consider organising weeks/days dedicated to Mental Health awareness
  • Create campaigns online and virtual Talk Circles to create awareness
  • Organise virtual creative workshops to engage students such as workshops in art therapy
  • Ensure regular emails to maintain constant communication with students and faculty through periodic video emailers containing useful tips and resources on Mental Health and Well-being.

 

Webinars to create awareness

  • Plan webinars where esteemed speakers address audiences on ways to preserve their mental wellness

 

Informal student interactions

  • Plan inter-student online activities which facilitate student connections which are not academic in nature. This will allow students to engage with each other, and have an opportunity to create bonds which can support them in times of
  • Monitored student discussion boards and blogs

 

Faculty-Student sharing sessions

  • Create more opportunities for faculty and students to connect in a one-on-one or many-to-one format so that the students get a chance to be mentored by their

 

Youth affairs virtual programmes for Students

  • As the students are missing the Campus ambience, the universities may arrange online cultural programme, like ‘Kuch Artistic Karo-Na’ by AIU8 to keep their spirits

 

Mitigate ‘V-con fatigue’

  • Video-Conferencing has resulted in fatigue and therefore it is important to give students periodic days off to ensure they can recover from the fatigue.

Video-Conferencing has resulted in fatigue and therefore it is important to give students periodic days off to ensure they can recover from the fatigue


Policy on Classes Commencement

Institutions should plan to open their academic year a week earlier than usual. This extra week can be utilised to test the software and hardware, and help students and faculty members navigate the new digital protocols, SOPs, and spaces (e.g. Moodle, OneDrive, Piazza etc.). The extra week will also help faculty members to take demonstration-classes and students to attend lectures, submit and resolve doubts, upload assignments and receive mock feedback and grades. This is likely to reduce the time spent during the actual semester. The IT department and the library staff can be engaged to take the lead in conducting sessions for students and faculty to help them become familiar with the IT tools being used by the university.

 

Policy on Data Privacy

In the context of the online classroom, an Information Security and Data Privacy Policy should be defined. Following areas should be considered while defining the policy:

  • Intellectual Property meant for research work of the faculty
  • Intellectual Property for external work such as videos or documentaries being used during online classrooms which are recorded
  • Discussion of views of students and faculty in an e-classroom setting, which may be recorded
  • Recording protocol and usage
  • Recording restrictions, if any
  • Legal and regulatory compliance

 

Additionally, based on the finalised policy

  • Non-Disclosure Agreement should be created and signed off by all students
  • Emails to create policy awareness should be circulated

 

Also, it is important to work on the technology infrastructure to ensure

  • Restricted access to classrooms to avoid external intrusion
  • Restricted access to viewing and editing of class room recordings
  • Limitation of access on who can record the sessions on the application

In the context of the online classroom, an Information Security and Data Privacy Policy should be defined.

Teaching & Learning Activities

Given that the physical mode is the usual mode utilised for classes, the teaching and learning activities can be conducted as per the usual methodologies. Therefore, the curriculum, course outline, pedagogical implementation and experiential learning will not be affected since the faculty and students will be face-to-face in a classroom which is ‘business as usual’. If any adjustments are required, the guidelines for online mode could be utilised.

However, there will have to be norms of social distancing and other health-and-safety precautions which will need to be practised. This may require:

  • Re-structuring the class size – This needs to be done to ensure social
  • Re-planning the time – Since the class size will be smaller, the faculty may have to take extra

Therefore, academic planning in terms of class allocations to faculty and the academic calendar will need to be re-evaluated.

  • Additional infrastructural requirement – This can be put in place as stated further in the

Further, the possibility of disruption of classes due to COVID-19 cases that may emerge on campus cannot be ruled out. Even when classes may continue, some students may show symptoms of COVID-19 or be tested positive, thus making it impossible for them to attend classes. Hence, the institutions need to ensure that all physical classes are video recorded and the videos are uploaded on LMS. As a result, all suggestions made for online mode will still remain relevant in physical mode of operations.

Paper based submissions could be avoided whenever feasible.


Assessments

In the physical mode, the assessment activities can be conducted as usual. In place of only mid and end-term examinations, a system of continuous assignments and examinations could prove useful. However, paper based submissions could be avoided whenever feasible.

Safe Collection of Submission

  • Students need to wear gloves while submitting their completed assessment papers
  • The submission centre needs to be managed to ensure social distancing
  • Safe disposal of used student gloves


Safe Storage of the submitted documents

  • Ensuring that the documents are quarantined for the required hours before sending for evaluation
  • Sanitization of documents


Safe deployment to the faculty and back

  • Post the storage time completion, there has to be a predefined process for safe supply of the answer sheets from the storage area to the faculty and back for retention in the archives
  • Along with answer sheets, pairs of disposable gloves should also be provided to the faculty
  • Physical Infrastructure (for sit-down examinations)

    • Physical infrastructure to ensure social distancing in the seating area
    • Placement of transparent shields between students and ensuring that students wear masks all the time
    • The handing out of papers and exam sheets to students, and back to the faculty, will need to have a defined process
    • Policy of using restrooms to avoid crowd-gathering will need to be identified and adopted
    • Sanitization of the centre between examinations


Non-Classroom Activities

Any non-contact based activities can be resumed but with policies around social distancing and sanitization processes.

  • Cultural and Non-Physical Activities – These can continue as status quo, however with social distancing
  • Sports Activities – Those that involve contact will need to be suspended (gym, football, cricket, rugby, kabaddi, boxing ).
  • Additional Activities – Activities such as Pilates and Yoga can continue while observing social distancing and sanitization.

The high population density of campuses also makes them vulnerable to outbreaks and quick transmission.


Infrastructure

COVID-19 Testing Infrastructure

With students, staff and faculty coming to the campus, there is a high risk-exposure, given that they could be carriers of the coronavirus, especially those who are asymptomatic. The high population density of campuses also makes them vulnerable to outbreaks and quick transmission. Institutions should be cognisant of the fact that residential campuses may have students making one-time entry; however, given that they may be coming from other cities via flight/train/other public transport, the risk for residential institutions will also be high. In the case of non-residential campuses, the fact that students may travel to and from the campus on a daily basis using public transport, increases the risk exposure by virtue of frequency of access to areas of high risk exposure.

In all cases, faculty and administrative staff will enter and exit the campus on a daily basis, thereby increasing the overall risk exposure. Hence, it is critical to take preventive measures which will aim to allow entry on campus only if the students/staff/faculty are COVID-19 negative. Consequently, testing is crucial and needs to be conducted at multiple stages.

Ideal Situation

Stage 1 Testing: Campus entry

No entrant should be allowed on campus until they have taken a COVID-19 test and the report is negative.

This implies that the entrant needs to take a test, be completely quarantined and wait till the results are available. One will have to take the risk of assuming that in the period between the test and outcome, the entrant was not exposed to the virus.

Stage 2 Testing: Post campus quarantine (Non-Residential)

After entering the campus, the students will need to be quarantined for two weeks, following which they will need to be tested again before entering the campus based on the test results.

Stage 3 Testing: Periodic Tests

Periodic tests should be taken proactively, based on testing kit availability, especially for asymptomatic students.

Stage 4 Testing: Symptoms check

For students/faculty/staff moving in and out of campus, daily self-declaration, symptom check, and testing may need to be done.

Additional Steps: Ideal Case Scenario

  • Students should be quarantined for two weeks off campus before entering the
  • Given that the staff and faculty may move in and out of the campus, daily testing should be conducted
  • For non-residential campuses, daily testing of students should take place

However, the lack of feasibility of the above ideal-case scenarios shows that the physical campus will always be exposed to the risk of transmission.

Additional Infrastructure

In order to have a robust testing mechanism, the following infrastructural implementation will need to be in place:

  • Self-Declaration Forms
  • Online self-declaration forms to be completed prior to entering the campus by students, staff, and faculty
  • For daily entrants, an online submission of daily declaration
    • Online Symptom-Check Portal
  • Create an online web portal where entrants need to submit a status of their symptoms and identify them in low/medium/high risk categories
    • Testing Kits
  • To ensure the required testing, COVID-19 testing kits will need to be procured
  • Supply chain of testing kits will need to follow all safety standards
    • Testing Centre
  • To facilitate the testing, a designated area will need to be assigned
  • Sanitization will need to be conducted post every round of testing
    • Testing Disposal
  • Safe disposal system will need to be in place
  • Additional gloves, masks for the testing team.

Online self-declaration forms to be completed prior to entering the campus by students, staff and faculty.

 

  • Symptom Infrastructure
  • Additional infrared thermometers for checking temperature
    • Campus Security & Testing Team
  • Entry security check to be conducted keeping in mind social distancing and other safety norms
  • Frisking should not be allowed
  • Baggage sanitization infrastructure needs to be put in place.

Classroom Capacity Upgradation

Classrooms are utilised based on defined timelines. Therefore, controlling classroom utilisation is more manageable. However, common areas which are not time-bound will need to have controls in place to ensure that even when the students/staff/faculty members use it in the absence of any vigilance, they follow strict rules of social distancing. Additionally, given the common use of the infrastructure in these areas, there will need to be additional infrastructure in place to mitigate the risk of transmission. Some of the key areas which will be in the scope of the required infrastructure upgradation include, but are not limited to:

  • Washrooms
  • Cafeterias
  • Library/Reading Rooms
  • Laboratories/Studios/Communal areas

Based on the type of usage of the above mentioned areas, some of the infrastructure and processes that may be considered for implementation have been stated below.

Library/Reading Rooms

  • Make the visit to the library/reading room based on appointments, so that the count of people accessing the library can be controlled at any given point in time
  • No-touch system for issuing books and registrations
  • Exclusive book handlers for selection, placement and handling of books – They will require masks, gloves, and constant changes for the
  • Plexiglass barriers at counters, and on tables
  • The seating on tables will need to be earmarked based on norms of social distancing
  • Periodic sanitization
  • Dedicated quarantine space for books returned
  • Additional process to be defined on the entire supply chain of books from shelves, to handlers, to students, back to handlers, to quarantine and back to the shelves
  • Ideal case scenario – Build a digital collection to minimise vulnerability arising out of using physical libraries.

Washrooms

  • Limit the count of users who are allowed at any given point in time
  • Utilise foot knobs/pedals to avoid using hands to open doors
  • Use automated taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers which require no contact with the devices
  • Toilet seats to be sanitized after each use
  • Periodic sanitization

Cafeteria

  • Seating arrangement keeping in mind the social distancing norms
  • Plexiglass on tables
  • Ideal case scenario – Provide packed food which is to be distributed by delivery only and directly to the hostel rooms.

Laboratories/Studios

  • The capacity will need to be replanned based on social distancing norms
  • Correspondingly, additional lab/studio classes will need to be planned for
  • Devices will need to be cleaned after each individual use
  • Strict protocols on using gloves while handling devices
  • Ideal case scenario – Limit contact with common devices to only what is absolutely essential to the learning Otherwise limit it to the faculty for displaying purposes only.

Common Rooms such as Clubs and Sports
Complexes
– It will be advisable to keep these facilities out of bounds till the pandemic subsides, unless absolutely necessary. If essential for academic purposes, the HEI should follow the customisation of infrastructure and sanitization. Guidelines mentioned above may be taken into consideration.

Limit contact with common devices to only what is absolutely essential to the learning process


Radius Based Facilities

Given the sensitivity of the current pandemic and the health risks associated, it is critical that certain facilities are available within the proximity of the campus of the institution to allow for timely access to medical services.

This will be particularly critical for residential/semi-residential campuses where students are completely dependent on the institution to provide them support in accessing medical services.

Hospitals/Dental Services/General Physician Clinics/COVID-19 specific Hospitals

For any medical care or attention which cannot be provided on campus, there should be a tie-up/referral service with a hospital which attends to cases of medical emergencies including but not limited to COVID-19. There should be an ambulance service available from the campus to enable the mobility of potential patients to the medical centre.

Pharmacy

For medication required to treat medical conditions there should be a pharmacy available on campus, or there should be a tie-up with a local pharmacy. Preferably, a delivery service should be put in place for delivery of medication to students since this will avoid back and forth movement of students/faculty/administration staff and in turn reduce the overall risk exposure of everyone on the campus.

On-Campus Quarantine Centre

Given that students, staff or faculty on campus may test positive for COVID-19 during the various stages of testing, or may show symptoms, there should be a predefined quarantine centre on campus for immediate use. For residential campuses, the capacity of the quarantine centre will need to be higher given that students stay on campus and may need quarantining a lot more frequently, and with no option of self-quarantining at home.

Some points to be taken into consideration while planning the quarantine facilities:

Design Guidelines

  • Locate it in a way that it has maximum isolation potential on the
  • Segregate the quarantine facility into three independent sections distinctly – COVID-19 positive, strong symptoms, and mild symptoms to avoid potential transmission within the quarantine
  • The bedding within the quarantine centres should ensure norms of social
  • There should be constant sanitization of the The housekeeping staff designated to these should be given PPE since these will be high risk exposure areas.

Security Guidelines

  • Special signage indicating restricted access to avoid students, faculty and staff from accidentally entering the quarantine
  • Additional security should be put in place to restrict access to these
  • Access-List should be created which documents the list of people with authorised access to these centres, and a list of people authorised to bring in students/staff/faculty for quarantining.

There should be a tie-up/referral service with a hospital which attends to cases of medical emergencies including but not limited to COVID-19.


Campus Healthcare Services

To provide immediate treatment of COVID-19 cases, it is recommended to have on campus healthcare infrastructure. Also for residential campuses, it is important to have a holistic healthcare centre to address the medical needs of students, staff and faculty. In order to ensure this, the institutions should establish leadership such as a Chief Health Officer (CHO) to develop teams and systems. The facilities to be provided can be structured as per the following compartments in order to ensure maximum coverage.

  • Compartment 1: Primary Healthcare
  • Compartment 2: Emergency First-Aid
  • Compartment 3: Well equipped Ambulance
  • Compartment 4: Tie-ups with Multispecialty hospitals
  • Compartment 5: Healthcare Awareness
  • Compartment 6: Lifestyle Modification Awareness to promote healthy living
  • Compartment 7: Qualified and well-trained Healthcare Team.

In addition to this, the institutions should enable their Health Centres with the following for ensuring holistic services to the students, faculty and staff who need on-campus emergency treatment, and show a positive result on the COVID-19 test.

Medical Mobility

  • Ambulance with PPE and air purifying respirators.

Preventive Infrastructure

  • PPE for healthcare staff
  • Masks (N-95 for healthcare staff)
  • High frequency sanitization of the medical centre
  • Oximeters
  • Infrared Thermometers

Medical Devices and Spaces

  • Emergency room fully equipped with Ventilators, Defibrillator, Multipara Monitors, 12 Channel ECG Machines, Suction Machines, Autoclaves and emergency This is to provide urgent medical attention for emergency patients
  • Fully equipped Flu Wards
  • Physiotherapy unit


Healthcare Team

  • Clearly defined organisation structure including a CHO/Director of the Centre and a team of doctors and nurses
  • Additional doctors and nurses trained for emergency COVID-19 cases
  • This team should also be able to handle the anxiety of the incoming Additionally, an in-person counsellor being present will help alleviate the stress generated amongst students, faculty and staff.

The institutions should enable their Health Centres with holistic services to the students, faculty and staff who need on-campus emergency treatment.


Ancillary Infrastructure

Given the backend operations of the Building Management of any campus, it is crucial to ensure that there is relevant upgrade made to the ancillary infrastructure to ensure minimisation of risk exposure. With the given risk associated with transmission through air and surface, the equipment associated with air ventilation and water supply should be specifically considered by the institution. There should also be sufficient, upgraded infrastructure for fire safety and procedures around it need to be revised to align with the social distancing norms.

Air Contitioning

  • Conduct a ventilation and hazard assessment of centralised air conditioners
  • High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters to be used (HEPA) wherever feasible
  • Monitoring process of air quality
  • Regular servicing, sanitation and maintenance of HVAC
  • Air Purifier installation.

Water Supply

  • Advance maintenance to sanitize the water supply system from bacteria that may have resulted from the long period of lack of usage of the system – Draining, purging, cleaning treatment, disinfecting the water
  • Cleaning and sanitation of water tanks
  • Maintenance and sanitation of geysers
  • Safe management of water supply and distribution
  • Sanitation and maintenance of drinking-water fountain stations (if applicable)
  • Higher frequency of water testing to be conducted by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Laboratories (NABL)

Fire Safety

  • This is particularly important given the increase in use of hand sanitizers which have alcohol as an ingredient, making it
  • Pre-defined storage area for hand sanitizers procured by the Fire-Proof doors for such an area.
  • Identify protocol for use of sanitizers, and create awareness displays in multiple locations, especially frequently used locations and ones vulnerable such as kitchens
  • Preventive maintenance of all fire extinguishers placed on campus
  • Fire safety training for all students, faculty and staff
  • Identify the new set of fire evacuation spots to ensure maximum possible social distancing under these circumstances
  • Provision of masks in evacuation areas to be used during an emergency evacuation.

It is crucial to ensure that there is relevant upgrade made to the ancillary infrastructure to ensure minimisation of risk exposure.


Specialised Infrastructure for Residential/Semi Residential Institutions

Given that students in residential/semi residential programmes live on the campus, it is important to make the campus living safe and self-sufficient. Therefore, the student housing, as well as the facilities on campus over and above the healthcare services, will need to be accounted for. This is particularly important since the students are living away from their families, without their emotional support, and are not within the safety of their homes. Provision of such safe spaces will also ensure restriction of the movement of students outside the campus and therefore, minimise their exposure to the risk of catching the coronavirus. Sanitizers should be available at many designated places.

Hostel Infrastructure Upgradation

Given that students in residential/semi residential programmes live on the campus, it is important that the student housing/hostels are planned in a way that minimises the exposure to risk for students living on the campus. The student housing accommodation would need to account for the following parameters:

  • Revisiting the Assignment of Accommodation
    The number of students staying in the hostel/accommodation will need to be planned based on the minimum social distancing to be maintained.
  • Use of Common Areas
    Maintenance of common areas such as washrooms will need to follow the washroom sanitization guidelines stated above. Other common areas within the student housing used for communal gathering will need to be suspended, and used on a need-only basis based on authorisation by the hostel warden.
  • Sanitization Procedure
    Room provisions such as bed linen, and overall sanitization will need to have additional housekeeping services in place. The rooms will have to be sanitized more frequently. However, it will need to be planned in a way to ensure no contact during the housekeeping services.
  • Emergency Protocol
    An emergency protocol will need to be defined in case a student is found to be symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19 to ensure that calm is maintained.

An emergency protocol will need to be defined in case a student is found to be symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19.


On-Campus Utilities

Given that students will be on campus at all times, daily utilities will need to be accounted for. This will ensure that the students need not leave the campus for any requirement and ensure minimisation of risk exposure for themselves and for the entire community on the campus.

Frequently Used Utility Services

  • Groceries – It is recommended that the grocery stores do not allow buyers inside the store but instead take online orders and deliver it to the
  • Stationery – It is recommended that the stationery stores do not allow buyers but instead take online orders and deliver it to the
  • Laundry service – It is recommended that students resort to self However, for those who choose to opt for the external laundry service, the following should be considered:
  • The service providers should use gloves, which need to be changed with each student’s apparel
  • Room pick up/delivery only
  • Face shields, masks, gloves for delivery staff
  • Frequent sanitization of the laundry centre

Additional Steps for On-campus Services

  • Entry sanitization and quarantine of goods on receipt
  • Frequent sanitization of the centre
  • Digital payments
  • Physical protection (masks, gloves, face shields) of the delivery staff
  • Follow a predefined procedure for entry, exit and the entire supply chain of the materials
  • Delivery protocol to minimise contact between the delivery staff and students, and sufficient masks/gloves for the delivery staff members

In order to create awareness, discipline and a sense of responsibility and ownership, a self- declaration form should be designed to be completed.


PROTOCOLS

Self-Declaration Forms

In order to create awareness, discipline and a sense of responsibility and ownership, a self-declaration form should be designed to be completed.

Parents/Student

  • They will ensure that students commit to follow all guidelines of the
  • They will ensure the students commit to follow all government
  • They will confirm that the student has had no prior
  • They will declare if the student has been tested positive for COVID-19.
  • They will agree to usage of contract tracing to minimise risk exposure of fellow members of the
  • They will declare in case any symptoms have been reported for the
  • They will declare the student’s travel
  • They will declare the status of the zoning of their residential area where the student
  • They will highlight any other risks observed in entering the campus.

Faculty/Administration

It is advised that faculty/administration staff entering the campus also do a daily self-declaration to confirm no cases, or symptoms. Entry should be permitted based on this along with the entry-level testing and checks.

Additional Steps

  • This process should preferably be online to make the process This will avoid paper based contact and also make the tracking process more efficient.
  • Ownership of any health mishap will need to be identified and included in the scope of this Also, identify the stakeholders such as the government (central/state), WHO and on-campus health services which need to be notified for any specific conditions that are observed.

Mental Wellness Counselling

While the counselling centres (if applicable) can continue to be operational, social distancing and sanitization of the centres will need to be followed post each visit. Also, under such circumstances it is important to explore the following mental wellness options:

  • Counsellors
    On-board a team of counsellors who are available for counselling online or offline. It should be ensured that there is enough capacity of counsellors to meet the demands of one-to-one counselling sessions. Collaborate with online platforms such as ‘Your Dost’ which provide discussion boards, professional guides, and awareness material remotely for students, staff, and faculty even during non-campus hours.
  • Awareness
    Plan discussions where experts address audiences on ways to preserve their mental wellness. Also create awareness via emails, posters and webinars to create a sense of inclusivity around mental wellness.
  • Student activities
    Plan student connects and online events which are not academic in nature, and allow students to release their anxiety and develop an emotional outlet.

International Students Support

Given the rise in xenophobia since the start of COVID-19, it is very important to create an environment which is conducive for international students and free from any xenophobic acts or racism. Institutions will need to be cognisant of the same in case of international students on campus. In view of this the following steps can be considered for implementation:

  • Create Sensitisation
    -Conduct additional training on sensitivity to international
    -Discussions to sensitise the students, faculty and administrative staff.
  • Create a support system
    -Create a buddy network, where a group of international students is assigned one student buddy to help them in case of any day-to-day transactions and
    -Create a mentor network, where a group of international students is assigned a faculty to help them in case of any high level
    -Create a special helpline for international students to address issues of any This unit can also be trained in additional support services including visa support which the international students may need help with.

It is very important to create an environment which is conducive for international students and free from any xenophobic acts or racism.


Contact Tracing

Institutions will need to have a process in place to trace students who may have been in contact with anyone on campus who has been identified as COVID-19 positive. Therefore, an IT Solution will need to be put in place to ensure that there is a robust system for contract tracing. This will require all students, faculty and staff to register on the application, and have it regularly updated by all the members.

In order to achieve this, the institution will have to either collaborate with their internal IT departments to build an in-house application or procure services of an external IT organisation which can build a contract tracing application, or provide a ready-made application. To ensure a smooth implementation of setting up a system for contact tracing the following stages should be followed :

  • IT Solution Implementation for Contact Tracing:

Stage 1: Design, Build and Test the application

Stage 2: Upload the details of all the students, faculty and staff

Stage 3: Deploy the application to all the students, faculty and staff


As a part of this, strict data privacy controls will also have to be put in place since it is important to safeguard the sensitive health information which the members registered on the application will provide.

  • Technology
    -Controls should be in place to restrict access of all information to designated staff only
    -Controls should be put in place to ensure that members cannot view each other’s data
    -Controls should be put in place to ensure that only the members of the institution can login and register on the
  • Policy
    -Create and circulate a policy on the use of the
    -Non-Disclosure Agreement to be signed on not revealing identity of affected
    -Actions will need to be defined for any
    -Terms and Conditions should be clearly documented and shared with members before they  register.


In addition to these controls, a compliance assessment should be done with regulatory requirements of information security and data privacy associated with this, and the corresponding policy and technology implementation should be customised.

An IT Solution will need to be put in place to ensure that there is a robust system for contract tracing.


Sanitization & Housekeeping

Given that the entire population of students, faculty and staff will often come in contact with the same surfaces and areas, the need for frequent sanitization is very high. These include communal areas, lunch rooms, library, classroom seats, and washrooms. Therefore, processes will need to be put in place for more frequent sanitization.

This will require additional capacity of housekeeping. Thus, the institution may consider the following steps to structure their needs, and plan their housekeeping services in synchronisation with the needs of COVID-19.

  • Step 1 – Review and assess any guidelines, mandates of the government, WHO or any regulatory body regarding the subject of sanitization and incorporate the same in the final
  • Step 2 – Categorise locations as high crowd, medium crowd, low
  • Step 3 – Irrespective of location, identify parts of a location based on contact frequency – high touch, medium touch and low touch
  • Step 4 – Identify the sanitization frequency matrix based on location and contact
  • Step 5 – Document roles and responsibilities matrix to identify the staff assigned for different locations and the frequency of Daily/weekly roster will need to be created and refreshed. Potential fatigue of the staff should be taken into consideration while planning.
  • Step 6 – Document a sanitization procedure, including the materials to be used, and the housekeeping mandates of usage and disposal of gloves, face masks,
  • Step 7 – Logs of sanitization to be maintained and monitored on a predefined frequency (hourly, weekly, fortnightly, monthly).
  • Step 8 – Housekeeping protocol to be defined on the usage and disposal of gloves, masks, sanitization material after every use to avoid their becoming carriers of the Safety of housekeeping should be considered while planning this.

Irrespective of location, identify parts of a location based on contact frequency – high touch, medium touch and low touch areas.


COVID-19
Testing Procedure

Residential/ Semi Residential

For residential/semi-residential programmes, it is recommended to have at least the following stages of testing in place.

  • Pre-entry testing
    To be conducted before the students, faculty and staff arrive on campus and submit their results as a part of the self-declaration attestation (one time).
  • On-arrival testing
    To be done when the students, faculty and staff arrive on campus. (Ideally they should be quarantined off- campus for two weeks prior to this).
  • Post-arrival testing
    Ideally, to be done two weeks after arrival of students. (Not applicable if they have been quarantined off- campus for two weeks before the on-arrival testing).
  • Surveillance testing
    To be conducted on a random sampling basis to capture any asymptomatic cases.
  • Need-basis testing
    To be conducted when anyone reports symptoms.
  • Self-declaration
    A self-declaration form will need to be completed before the first entry on the campus.
  • Non-Residential
    For a non-residential programme, it is recommended to have at least the following stages of testing in place:
  • Pre-entry testing
    To be conducted before the students, faculty and staff arrive on campus and submit their results as part of the self-declaration attestation (one time).
  • On-arrival testing
    Ideally, this should be done on a daily basis. However, given the lack of feasibility, symptom checks will need to be done at the least.
  • Surveillance testing
    To be conducted on a random sampling basis to capture any asymptomatic cases.
  • Need-basis testing
    To be conducted when anyone reports symptoms.
  • Self-declaration
    This will need to be completed on a daily basis.

Frequent entry/exits should be restricted. For emergencies a protocol of authorisation should be defined.


Campus Entry Procedure

While there is a process for one-time entry of students/faculty/staff, there also needs to be a process defined for entering the campus and for frequent entry/exit in the middle of a day to run personal errands or for any other personal commitments. Any member leaving and entering the campus will need to ensure that safety standards are adhered to at all times, to not endanger the other members of the community. However, this should be allowed only in case of an emergency and with the permission of parents/guardians. The HEI should take into account the following at the least while admitting the students and while planning the daily entry/exit protocol.

Entry Protocol

The following should be considered for the students, faculty and administration:

  • Confirmation of travel history, any history of occurrence of COVID-19 (positive test results), or symptoms especially in the last two weeks in the form of a self-declaration form which is attested and approved for entry prior to the The security team should be provided the authorised list of entrants.
  • Check for
  • COVID-19
  • Sanitization of
  • Non-contact security test mechanisms which do not involve contact such as
  • Social distancing while entering – To ensure this, there should be time slots provided to
  • Staggered entry to ensure social
  • Frequent entry/exit should be For emergencies, a protocol of authorisation should be defined.
  • Use of gloves, masks and safe
  • Use of PPE for security guards, particularly those involved in any form of close distance with entrants to evaluate security risks of baggage or the entrant.

Additional protocol for Residential/Semi Residential Campuses

  • Stagger the entry of the entire student population to ensure social
  • Spread the entry across multiple
  • Entry to take place by a pre-fixed time slot
  • Time slots to be planned to buffer for flight delays/ road traffic.

Additional protocol for Non-Residential campuses

  • Stagger the entry of the entire student population to ensure social
  • Provide sanitized and COVID-19 compliant private transportation if feasible to the students, which is compliant with social distancing norms.

Campus Supply Chain

In a residential campus, the campus will need to have all provisions for the on-campus population. This will include essential items such as groceries, food/raw materials, medication, and stationery.

Therefore, a supply chain mechanism to suit the needs of the pandemic must be built in to ensure safety. While planning the supply chain, it is recommended to take the following into consideration:

  • Vendor Assessment – Ensure that the vendor follows the guidelines and mandates of the regulatory bodies to provide
  • Transport Rules To ensure that hygiene is maintained when the goods are being transported to the campus.
  • Sanitization Cleaning and sanitization of the products entering the
  • Quarantine – There should be safe storage areas of the products to quarantine them before these enter the
  • Distribution There should be a process defined to safely transfer the goods from the transport to the storage areas to the sanitization department to the final point of delivery on
  • Staff Management Symptom check and testing of service delivery staff should be done regularly since they are going to come in contact with the members of the community during the transfer of a smooth procurement process also needs to be ensured.

Therefore, the following stages should be considered while evaluating and managing the vendors during times of COVID-19:

  • Identify key
  • Revisit the contracts to ensure timely
  • Monitor any interruptions in supply of
  • Migrate to digital payments
  • Identify and execute fast track supply of critical goods


Monitoring Activity on Campus

While infrastructure and guidelines are laid down, it is critical to ensure that everyone on campus follows the rules strictly. For this the monitoring can be done in two ways:

  • Physical monitoring
    -High risk areas can be guarded
    -Based on feasibility, certain areas can be monitored via CCTV
    -Faculty can monitor the classrooms
  • Create a Culture



Given the challenges in monitoring all locations at all times, awareness and policies will need to be put in place to ensure discipline.

  • Physical posters and
    -Friendly reminders over emails and
    -Use user-friendly creatives (such as caricatures) to have a more visual impact and better memory
    -Disciplinary action guidelines for breach of
    -Self-declaration form to have a point on students/faculty/staff agreeing to have read all guidelines, and taking complete ownership of implementing the same.

Also while managing the physical activity on campus the following should be taken into consideration:

  • All common areas such as lunch areas, reading rooms and libraries should be visited, based on a designated appointment. Lunch rooms should be restricted and if feasible, food should be delivered or picked-up
  • Given that visit to the restrooms during and between classes will have to be staggered, faculty will need to account for the same and adopt the required

 

For institutions which may not be able to continue physical classrooms, or utilise online learning, broadcasting of classes could be an alternative.

Teaching & Learning Activities

For institutions which may not be able to continue physical classrooms, or utilise online learning, broadcasting of classes could be an alternative. This mode would specifically be applicable in case of the following situations:

  • Students of the HEI are in rural areas with no infrastructure for e-classrooms.
  • Students of the HEI are from economically backward backgrounds with no capacity to afford the infrastructure required for e-classrooms.

Therefore, the teaching and learning activities can be planned with an underlying assumption that these students would have one of the following:

  • Radio
  • Television
  • Mobile phone with basic internet.

In order to plan the teaching and learning activities in a broadcast mode, the following stages can be considered to structure the HEI’s way forward:

Stage One – Curriculum and Content Conceptualisation

The curriculum needs to be standardised for different courses for centralised broadcasting. Therefore, it is recommended that the curriculum setting and content creation for broadcast is managed centrally and can be disseminated across HEIs as a one-time effort.

Stage Two – Content Customisation

The content will need to be moulded to suit three formats – audio for radios, video for television, and audio for recordings to be heard on phone. Additionally, the content will need to be translated in various local languages to make it useful for the students across different regions.

Stage Three – Broadcast Partners

There should be a centralised partnership established with television and radio channels which can support the initiative of broadcasting the content. A coalition of HEIs should collaborate with central government authorities to establish such channels of transmission.

Stage Four – Broadcast Plan

Once the content has been created and the channels of transmission have been established, a schedule will need to be created to decide the class transmission dates and timings. This broadcast plan should then be circulated to all students. There should be a weekly schedule for different program-year-course combinations and all sessions should be broadcast more than once.

Stage Five – Helpline

A central helpline should be set up where students who are unable to receive the class content can raise their grievances. The university faculty should provide specific time slots for all their course students to call them to clarify their doubts.

A central helpline should be set up where students who are unable to receive the class content can raise their grievances.


Assessments

Given the limitations of infrastructure, conducting full-fledged assessments, particularly submission and evaluation of examinations may be challenging. Therefore, it is important that students are provided alternative exercises in sync with the course objectives. Given the home-settings, it will help to keep these exercises and activities low on the duration of time required to complete them; this can be compensated with higher frequency of activities.

Short assessments can be sent out over SMS/WhatsApp in a few short lines so that students can complete the exercise within the scope of their household. Students can then respond in short paragraphs, audio recordings or photographs of hand written responses to the faculty. For the final examination stage, the following may be considered:

  • A set of tutorials should be planned to make up for the limited learning in a broadcast
  • Cumulative outcome of the short exercises, followed by an oral viva, can be considered for the Regulatory guidelines need to be followed at all times.

Non-Classroom Activities

Given the limitation of infrastructure and mode of communication between the institution and students, non- classroom activities may be executed keeping in mind the same. It will be challenging to engage in virtual group activities, therefore, keeping in mind the outlet of stress required for students and learning of some soft-skills, the following activities can be considered:

  • Physical Activities
    -Dance content/lessons broadcasted on radio/TV/WhatsApp
    -Fitness videos on television
  • Other Activities
    -Music content/lessons broadcasted on radio/TV/WhatsApp
    -Short exercises at home (scavenger hunt/quiz)
  • Additional Learning
    -Educational videos on television
    -Motivational speeches on television/radio/WhatsApp/SMS
  • Mental Wellness
    -Setup a central helpline for any wellness grievances for the students/faculty/staff
    -Mental wellness discussions for broadcast on television/ radio
    -Mental wellness short messages sent over SMS/WhatsApp

Institutions should consider working with government authorities to liaise with television/radio/telecom channels to broadcast the formulated content on channels as per a pre-designed schedule.

 

Infrastructure

It is recommended that the institutions are centrally managed. There can be two approaches:

  • Approach 1 – Formulate your own Content and Infrastructure
    HEIs which need to utilise broadcast channels and need the additional support should liaison to form a collaboration. While the content and curriculum can be developed within this coalition, the institutions should consider working with government authorities to liaise with television/radio/telecom channels to broadcast the formulated content on channels as per a pre-designed schedule.
  • Approach 2 – Utilise existing Content and Infrastructure
    Customise the curriculum to the content available on the ‘Swayam Prabha’ channels and plan the courses for the students. Circulate the details with the students via messages/local panchayats and manage the exercises and non-classroom activities as recommended above.


Protocols

The broadcast mode of continuing education can be effective with the right content, customisation and broadcast planning. However, it is constrained by certain limitations, the key ones being as follows:

  • Transmission of communication and knowledge in one way
  • Limited faculty-student interaction
  • Limited infrastructure
  • Lack of robust assessment of teaching and learning


Therefore, it would be important to identify additional protocols to address the below mentioned areas to make the broadcast learning as effective as possible:

  • Monitoring Procedure
    Given that physical classrooms are not in session, and online technology cannot be used to trace outreach of classes, a plan should be made in liaison with staff, faculty and local panchayats to monitor the outreach of the programme.
  • Training Procedure
    It is important that ways to remotely train the faculty and share best practices with them in a broadcast model is done to educate them on creative ways to engage students to respond to assessments. Planning these centrally will allow minimisation of effort and standardisation of education.
  • Faculty-Student Interaction Procedure
    Share faculty mobile numbers so that students can reach out to them for any concerns. Also, incorporate training for the faculty to support students over phone calls for any grievance.
  • Student Wellness Procedure
    Set-up a centralised mental wellness helpline for students, staff and faculty. Also find means to educate the parents on how to support their children through broadcast channels/letters/messages. Local panchayats can be given the responsibility to provide local mentoring and support to the students in villages.

Based on the situation and requirements, an HEI may not be able to adopt a pure online/physical/broadcast model. Therefore, based on the feasibility of implementation, mitigation of health risks, compliance to regulatory requirements and effectiveness of teaching and learning, the institution can operate in a hybrid mode.

 

To better understand the suitability and effectiveness of an approach and proportion of blending various modes, it is recommended that the HEI runs a survey amongst the students and the faculty prior to commencement of the semester to conclude on the approach (pure models/hybrid models).

 

The following case scenarios have been identified which may require an HEI to adopt the hybrid model.

 

CASE SCENARIO 1 – EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

For students of most batches, the experiential learning course work, if not feasible online, can be additionally covered in the following year. However, this may not be feasible for final year students. Therefore, in all such situations, a limited physical approach may be required. However, given the human interaction involved in this, it is best if this is avoided, given the risk exposure.

  • Studios/Labs/Clinics – While virtual labs/studios may prove useful for certain basic experiments, hands- on experience with instruments and tools may be necessary for more complex Although the institutions cannot become accessible for all the students round the semester, they may be opened for limited time to allow students to work on specific experiments in labs and workshops. Instead of bringing all students simultaneously to campus, students can be brought to campus in a staggered manner to ensure social distancing norms are always followed. For example, different batches can come to campus for 15-20 days and use lab/workshop resources exclusively to finish all key experiments/projects during that period. Associated travel arrangements for students from across the country and boarding and lodging arrangements, etc. need to be planned accordingly.

 

Exercising this option will require extensive planning to map experiments within specific courses to lab and workshop resources. Further, the faculty also needs to ensure that the theory work for these specific experiments or activities is finished before lab/workshop/studio work, or immediately afterward. Since the former is the norm at present, if the latter model of frontloading experiments/activities is followed, the design of experiments/activities, as well as instructions need to be revised to suit the new model. Video recording of the work done in the lab/workshop will prove useful to refer back to the experiments when covering theory after the lab work.

  • Field Visits – Much of the field work will remain restricted due to COVID-19-related Even though the curfews have been lifted, the risk of travelling to sites for field work remains high (for researchers, as well as participants) or curfews could be re-imposed in areas with high/rising infection numbers. In such cases, possibilities of accomplishing field work via virtual interactions and site visits can be experimented with.

 

Instead of visiting sites in groups, students can choose sites in their hometowns and villages and make visits when possible. Inspiration can be taken from works of ‘Childhood Geographers’ who have traditionally provided cameras to young children to photograph or videograph the places they visit or activities they do during the day. With significant access to camera phones, the participants can be requested to video record the sites that the researchers would have otherwise visited in person. They can also be requested to share their experiences about these spaces and interviews can later be conducted with these participants. Clearances should be taken to ensure legal compliance. Also, there are ethical challenges involved in such projects involving human participants and the Institutional Ethics Review Board can play a key role by creating training modules to sensitise faculty and students and monitor all such projects. Interaction with the vulnerable demographics (older people, people with health challenges, and children) should be restricted completely. This should be planned in advance.

 

Norms of social distancing, regulatory requirements and all safety measures should be complied with during this physical format of continuing learning, especially in field visits where the need to interact with people will highly increase the risk.

 

Norms of social distancing, regulatory requirements and all safety measures should be complied with during this physical format of continuing learning.


CASE SCENARIO 2 – RESIT EXAMINATIONS

An exercise will need to be carried out for scheduling repeat examinations from previous semesters, with priority accorded to graduating batches. If the institution thinks that online examinations are not feasible for these cases, a dedicated 1-2 week window can be provided during mid-semester or end-semester break to conduct these examinations on campus. Since such examinations involve a relatively small number of students, conducting these examinations physically while following social distancing norms should be possible. The key challenge will be to ensure that outstation students who come to campus for these examinations are provided accommodation either in on-campus hostels, or in an alternative place (e.g. an accommodation rented by the institution for two weeks) and proper arrangements are made for food and hygiene. However, for this, all the safety regulations for physical sessions must be complied with at all times.

 

CASE SCENARIO 3 – PHYSICAL CLASSROOM CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

Institutions that begin to resume physical classrooms may face certain limitations to conduct all sessions in the classroom for all students. Given that the capacity addition required to accommodate students (student accommodation/classroom/overall campus population density) with the new norms of social distancing may not be feasible, or some students may not be able to come to the campus due to personal commitments/travel constraints/health restrictions/COVID-19 affected, the following blended model can be considered:

  • Option 1 – Split and Rotate the Batches
    -A class can be split into smaller
    -The ongoing class can be recorded/streamed
    -One batch of students can sit in the class while the rest participate through
    -The batches keep rotating to ensure all students get an equal opportunity to attend the classes in person.

  • Option 2 – Record/Stream and Disseminate Classes
    -Institutions procure microphones and faculty records the ongoing class on their mobile phones fixed on tripods.
    -Recordings are created and put on DVDs/CDs/Whatsapp recordings/YouTube links and shared with students who are unable to attend the campus classroom in the format suitable to be used.
    -Stream class videos.

 

CASE SCENARIO 4 – Online Classroom Limitations

Given that some students may not have the required technology, or connectivity to attend online classes, or they do not have laptops/desktops to access the recordings of the online classes, then specifically for these students a broadcast approach may be utilised. The following steps can be followed to implement the same:

  • Step 1 – Institutions procure audio recorders usually used by researchers to conduct interviews and provide them to their
  • Step 2 – Faculty records the ongoing class video on their mobile phone (placed on a tripod) and high quality audio on the audio
  • Step 3 – Video from mobile and audio from recorders are merged and recordings are shared with students who are unable to attend the campus
  • Step 4 – For these students, the submission of assignments can be done via viva mode, or pictures of handwritten assignments.

 

Alternatively, physical classrooms can be provided to these students:

 

Option 1- The institution could plan to bring in such students from remote corners of India who do not have access to internet at home, or cannot study at home due to their family-specific circumstances. These students can stay in hostels and attend hybrid or online classes while maintaining social distancing.

Recordings are created and put on DVDs/CDs/ Whatsapp recordings/YouTube links and shared with students who are unable to attend the campus classroom.


Option 2 –
Campuses could accept enrolment to access their campus for local students. The number of students allowed to access the local campus can be limited. They can use the infrastructure on the campus to access online classrooms. The HEIs which will agree to provide their campus for this will need to ensure that all the regulatory requirements, health safety controls, and norms of social distancing are maintained, including the recommendations made in previous sections.


CASE SCENARIO 5 – Technology and Infrastructure Limitations for Faculty

Given that some faculty members may not have the required technology or connectivity to take online classes at their homes, the following physical set-up can be planned to provide the required infrastructure for them to conduct classes:

  • Identify other HEIs that can provide their campuses for use by academics who live in their Also they will need to identify the capacity available in terms of number of faculty who may access it.
  • Then faculty with limited infrastructure can coordinate with the university/college campus close to their residence and can use their campus to utilise the power/internet infrastructure to take online classes.

 

The HEIs which will agree to provide their campus for this will need to ensure that all the regulatory requirements, health safety controls, and norms of social distancing are maintained, including the recommendations made in previous sections.