Since the lock-down, we educators have faced unique problems. Now we have to deal with questions, doubts on the email, on WhatsApp – the groups and individual texts. Keeping track of every query has been And while, as an educator it is our duty (and we are trained as well) not to overlook or ignore any such query, the problem of asynchronous communication seems to have overwhelmed many. (many of us were singing “kya karein kya na karein, yeh kaisi mushkil hai..)
Here is what I did for my classes. Just for the background, I have 5 courses to handle – 3 for Bachelors and 2 for Masters program. The Bachelors courses have more than 50 students each. This can help you visualize how much of asynchronous traffic it would be and how it can throw your schedule to the wind. I am sure many educators sail in a similar boat. It has left many educators wondering if they are working at a call center helpline. Quite a frustrating feeling for many educators. Add to it, lack of an LMS and the lack of ICT skills for many students and top it with the digital divide. Quite a handful, isn’t it?
But Google hai to mumkin hai! 😉 For me, Google came to the rescue like for most of the things! Google doc. The messiah! (Have been using it for different purposes earlier). What I did was actually quite simple. All I did was- initiated a Google doc, named it as ‘Doubt solving’ and shared it with students. One Google Doc for one course. Simplified. Organised. I laid down a few simple rules.
- I wrote my instructions very clearly and precisely.
- I gave an example of a question and 2 answers with fictitious names as guidelines.
- I kept my tone motivational.
- I told them to post precise question/ doubt and write their name below the question.
- The others are to answer -Only one point per person. Less than 100 words. NO Repeat Point.
- I allowed them to post an image since some of them are habitual of pen-paper preparatory practices. So, they clicked snaps of that using their mobile phones and uploaded it.
- This ensured that students read both- the study material and what was written by the other students. They were revising unknowingly. And boy, I was glad!
- Of course, I had to be there, as always, beside them. I never answered a lot of queries as such. Just gave them a hint using the feature ‘comment’ of the Google Doc. So, I was just steering the discussion and keeping them on track. And lo! Two of my major problems were solved!
- My asynchronous communication traffic showed a 70% decrease! (yes, you are reading it correct!)
- It saved my time of organizing the student-communication.
- Other noticeable perks:
- Super Example of Peer learning is what I have at my hands.
- An interactive class in the asynchronous mode.
- Decrease in feeling of isolation.
- Increase in the confidence of students as they answered.
- I have an idea of who was studying and who was not 😉
- The students have reported of reduced stress of ‘studying a lot’
- Students were incidentally learning peer-review.
Quite an Aha Moment! Do try it in your class! We don’t always need complex solutions for solving complex problems. If you have tried something else, do share in the comment. If you try this, do let me know of its implementation.
Feels great to know that this is published in the July 2020 issue of International Journal of Educational Technology– a peer reviewed Journal as an article.