INITIATIVE

The gift of knowledge amidst COVID-19

In wake of the clarion call for a nationwide lockdown given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Apeejay Education Society and the Apeejay Stya University reached out immediately to students with a seamless stream of online education. What is remarkable is that they took ‘Vidya daan’ or the precious gift of knowledge to students beyond their own institutions, thereby benefiting a broader base of students. Apeejay Education Society (AES) runs 24 educational institutions comprising schools and colleges. Meanwhile, at AES and ASU, the entire community is voluntarily giving one day’s salary to the Prime Minister’s relief fund. In all Apeejay Stya Educational institutions, wherever feasible, knowledge and enrichment are being extended beyond even the online classrooms. They are being projected to wider student bases, social media platforms, YouTube channels and other platforms where they reach a larger audience who can benefit from them.

One of the higher educational institutions of Apeejay Education Society, namely, School of Architecture & Planning, has done an exemplary job of reaching out with expertise to an entire community of students and enthusiasts of Architecture. Recognizing their commendable contribution, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU) Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor have issued e-certificates to 20 of its faculty members including the Director for their initiative for e-teaching for AKTU. This means the domain knowledge is being extended beyond its own Architecture students, thereby benefiting a larger number of students studying Architecture and related disciplines. Online teaching efforts as directed by AKTU are going on in full steam. All the faculty of the School of Planning and Architecture are busy conducting e lectures, zoom classes and Google hangout sessions with the students and also interacting one-to-one with them to clear their doubts. The schools, under the aegis of the Apeejay Education Society, went out of their way to help the students of the economically weaker sections (EWS) to cope up with online learning during the Covid-19 scenario. Access was given to all irrespective of whether they paid the fee or not. The schools went to the extent of helping with mobile phones if the concerned students did not have the same. Through effective organizational skills, Apeejay Schools could ensure commendable participation from the EWS students in the online classes. Further, those who were unable to pay the fee and were in real need were helped with scholarships as well.

All the educational institutions of Apeejay are trying their best that uninterrupted learning continues for all its students. Teachers, under the guidance of technical teams, have swiftly adapted to the online world of teaching. In all the Apeejay Stya Schools and higher education institutions, teachers are connecting with the students via video conferencing and multiple online platforms for Interactive online lessons every day. In the higher education institutions of Apeejay Stya, learning has enhanced because even external subject leaders and experts from around the world, who are also at home, are joining and contributing to the online lessons quite easily. These experts are providing cutting edge expertise and careerrelated guidance to Apeejay educational institutions, especially the higher education ones, during the lockdown period. All classes and time tables are running online as per their regular schedule as if they were in the Institution and University. The institutions are also exchanging their best practices with each other. Further, they are bringing in elements like fixed classroom timings, lunch breaks, etc. to give the students a feel of normalcy. Mrs Sushma Paul Berlia, Co-Promoter & President, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group; Chairperson, Apeejay Education Society; Co-Founder & Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University said, “Our long term investments in technology and innovation are helping during the Covid-19 lockdown. I am extremely proud of our teachers, principals, professors, deans, parents and students who have come together with hard work and perseverance to make this possible almost overnight. We are dedicated to continue educating our students and create the future leaders of tomorrow. We believe our swift adaptation to meet the Covid-19 challenge head-on would hugely help our students enhance their independent learning and collaborative skills that will hold them in good stead throughout their lives.

Apeejay Education Society organized several workshops to help, educate, facilitate and fine-tune their faculty in online/elearning – teaching-learning process, devising course materials, assignments, evaluation, discussion forum and allow all to engage with the students using various technology, IT-enabled platforms and ICT modes more efficiently and effectively. Workshops on Instructional Design were organized for all the teaching faculty of AES higher education institutions and ASU. The Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA), which is one of the premier institution of AES offering a gamut of courses in Arts and beyond, not only went ahead with seamless online lessons but also spread awareness about COVID-19 to villages using video films. Also, the Institute is offering free of cost skill development courses during the lockdown period. Amidst the complete lockdown because of Coronavirus pandemic, Apeejay School of Management (ASM) roped in a gamut of experts to provide industry-oriented enrichment to its students. At Apeejay Stya University (ASU), a series of high profile webinars are being organized by the respective Departments of the University wherein the leading lights of the various domains are engaging with the students of ASU on topics which are of critical value in the separate domains.

As online learning becomes the new normal amidst the lockdown emanating from COVID-19 concerns, schools are taking note of a new set of rules to ensure that the ethics of online learning are maintained to make the most of such remote learning. Apeejay Education Society issued a set of ‘Online Learning Ethical Guideline’ to its students, to ensure online discipline and keeping the children focused. Also, in the wake of the Zoom/Video conference security concerns being raised (by media and government), Apeejay Schools have proactively taken a number of steps to ensure an enhanced security environment of online learning.

Lockdown is tough for everybody, including the young minds of the students. Apeejay has worked out an ‘Online teaching-learning balanced time table’ which integrates academics with coscholastic pursuits like dance, music, art & craft, physical fitness, yoga et al. to give enough non-screen time, relaxation as well as brain gym to the students to help them concentrate and retain knowledge better and feel better about the whole experience. Apart from enriching learning materials, students are being given guidance on how to spend the time at home in a constructive manner, while staying healthy and positive in spirit. Recorded lessons, videos on broadcast groups, worksheets, online quizzes et al. are not only keeping youngsters engaged but providing them joyful learning. Apeejay Stya Education Research Foundation – the think tank under AES, is regularly coming out with various research documents and reports related to COVID-19 situation.

Meanwhile, beyond enrichment through knowledge, the Apeejay Education Society has also contributed to ‘Rasoi on Wheels’ Foundation through CII for COVID-19. It will be serving meals to a very large number of people for many days.