Dr. Vidya Shankar Shetty, Director, REVA University

Dr. Vidya Shetty has a through and through career experience in Academics and Education ranging from K12 to Higher Education. Her career map has had her play diverse roles right from establishment to governance, ranging from setting up new schools in India and abroad, colleges, compliance and project handling of a greenfield University to her current role of Director at REVA University wherein she plays a crucial role in handling the Chancellor’s office and the portfolio of International Relations to place REVA University in the global education market.

Currently, the Director at REVA University, Dr. Vidya Shetty started her career as a Lecturer at St Agnes College, Mangalore, moved on to Bangalore after marriage, furthering her career with the Presidency Group with who she set up Schools, Colleges and a University periodically. She was also the Director for Manipal K-12 Education, setting up Schools countrywide and abroad. She was also the Director-Education at PEARSON K-12, India, the largest Education company in the world, wherein she set up 40 Institutions in India and Nepal. Her International exposure in Education was as Chief Academic Officer for Dr. B R Shetty group in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, wherein she set up schools for the Group and in Qatar and Saudi Arabia wherein she was on the Advisory Board for Schools and responsible for compliance and Performance Standards. Self-motivated with strong planning, organizational and leadership skills, Dr. Vidya has to be conscientious, systematic and analytical in her approach to Education and believes in skill centered learning in Education

Nature has its way of teaching lessons to mankind and when tough lessons are taught, Nature has grown to be a harsh teacher, whipping the learners, violating all codes of teaching-learning to ensure that the lessons are learned hard. COVID-19 has been one such instance for that sluggish teacher and for those conservative education institutions who sneered at all those who claimed remote instruction is not possible and classrooms will remain perpetually. 

Pedagogy transformed itself into panicgogy as the world witnesses the pandemic wrath. The most hit have been education institutions where the young generation gathers day on day to take lessons, submit assignments and take assessments. The time of the year for this severe lesson has been well-timed, as Schools and Colleges and Universities were wrapping their academic year. No planning, short notice and a series of disruptions in the lesson plans. That is what we teachers are considered ready for all the time: the ability to plan for the year with lesson plans, session plans, activities and some of us also claimed that we are prepared for the shift of plans inside the classroom based on the temperament of the class and are adaptable. Well, we saw a lot of that. An unprecedented time that threw us off gear. Figuring alternate ways of teaching also went beyond control as teachers had no clue of alternate methods of supporting students. The smarter ones offloaded all work onto parents by sharing long assignments to students by mail, others have used impractical methods of tutoring that has left the learner perplexed. 

Suddenly there is widespread acceptance by teachers of opting for video sessions, banking on that dormant online environment, exploring the official software that has been left unattended to at the office, making maximum use of WhatsApp groups, growing active on emails, use of ERP, twitter and ensuring students are engaged and are connected. Where we grudged our students of networking on various social media platforms, teachers are found scurrying around to create groups and build a community of learners. Education has always been facing a challenging time, but this one is unprecedented and warrants a lot of thought and the most important support from our digital students. 

A divide in the understanding of remote instruction is that we still believe slapping a lot of content on ppts is online support, sharing notes on topics is online support and this can be detrimental and create a disheveled impression of teaching on the youth. Textbooks and reliability on textbooks have always been considered redundant. A classical example of this stems from our Gurukul system of learning, where the teacher interfaced with students only for a very short duration of the day. Rest was based on experiential learning, activities, reading on their own, exploration, assignments and tasks that were to be completed at an expected pace. Assessments were anecdotal and based on observation by the teacher, group activities and a final test that was skill-based and not book-based. 

The pandemic has taught us that the time has come for us to ensure we explore all avenues of delivering teaching and that learning is prime. Control over the classroom and adhering to the age-old ‘sage on the stage’ method is extinct. As teachers, we need to scale ourselves and build on this connectivity with our learners wherever they are. We consider ourselves guardians of the content that we develop for our students, the notes that we prepare for our classes and still consider working in silos. We have now learned that content at these times has to be accessible to all and sharing lesson plans is the best way to support students. 

As teachers indulge in various methods of supporting and caring for their learners, we see uploads of video lessons where the teacher sets herself up in front of her laptop and records her lessons. This is where the argument was of flexible learning and self-paced learning. Learners are at this point, downloading these lecture videos and listening to them and watching them at their time and pace. PPTs are being made more interactive by teachers as they share slides with students. Sheer blackboard usage has been discouraged for long for it can set ennui in the learner while he sits for 40mins staring at all that you wrote on the board. Slides are far more organized while teaching lessons always taught us how to organize board work and make visual learning a different experience. Eye contact is one lesson that teachers are constantly being observed on; video lectures as we record them need the face of the teacher and her eye contact with the camera or else sustaining the interest of the students is a challenge. Of late, teachers have realized through feedback from parents and students, that long videos are boring. Well, that is what the age-old adage read that long lecture hours do not interest a learner. 

There is a lot of planning that goes into activities as we design our instruction to rely on assignments. Breaking away from the myth that as teachers we are expected to cover the syllabus and not allow students to discover the syllabus is a reality today. Where teacher interface is required is all that we are weighing on, the rest goes as planned assignments. Unclear assignment invites a lot of emails and messages from students. This is one great learning, that the expectations are set for assignments. 

Rubric based assignments and assessments have now become a reality. Expectation sets for assignments and long descriptive essays are bringing in the best outcomes from student essays. Moodle and other LMS that we never ventured to use have now come handy as we are quick to create interactive learning activities for students, develop quizzes, work on pre-reading and build other learning activities. Zoom sessions are growing to be a favorite with teachers and Microsoft teams are made the best use of. For the first time, collaborative, cooperative and flipped classrooms are reigning the world of education. Student groups and group projects are far more relaxed as students take ownership of their groups and the teacher grows to be a facilitator rather than an instructor. 

Attendance has always been the biggest challenge for us, teachers. The pandemic has made attendance compulsory as students participate in online sessions, submit assignments in time, ensure there is compliance and most of all are engaged in learning as this is the only option being given to them. Some lessons are learned the hard way but learn we must and COVID-19 has been a rather severe learning lesson for teachers and the lessons are certainly learned well

 

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