A key aspect of coping with Covid-19 is to ensure that education services are being delivered to the extent possible. This is an ideal time to experiment and deploy new tools, to make online teaching meaningful. The present situation demands development of improved professional skills/knowledge through online learning and assessment. With this aim in mind, MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore, conducted a one-day webinar session for all the faculty members from various disciplines, on 4th July 2020. The Resource Person for the webinar was Dr. Viraj Kumar, Member of the Governing Council, MVJCE and Visiting Professor, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, IISc.
The webinar was split into three sessions. The first session was an online session where Dr. Viraj Kumar addressed the five challenges faced during the online teaching-learning process, along with possible solutions to experiment with. The second session was an offline brainstorming session where faculty participants were instructed to work on specific tasks. The third session was again an online session where faculty participants presented their completed tasks to Dr. Viraj Kumar.
During Session One, the following challenges were addressed by Dr. Viraj Kumar.
Challenge 1: Student’s Access to Resources
The first challenge highlighted by Dr. Viraj Kumar was the challenge of student’s access to resources. To tackle this challenge, he suggested sharing of asynchronous content like pre-recorded videos/documents/links through cloud and physical media (e.g., SD cards, USB drives) or through single place of links (e.g., Moodle). He advised the faculty to avoid sharing content through email and WhatsApp, as far as possible. Talking about synchronous content (MS Teams etc.), Dr. Viraj Kumar suggested that the faculty can avoid streaming of slides and opined that it is better to share the content before the class begins. He warned against sharing illegal copies of texts or reference books. With respect to this challenge, he gave the following task to all the participants.
Task 1: For courses in August, identify all the topics for which new/bridge material needs to be created.
Challenge 2: Theory Courses and Content quality
The second challenge highlighted by Dr. Viraj Kumar was about explaining numerical problems through the online platform. He suggested showing the solution of a problem step by step, and breaking up the lecture session with questions (ideally, every 5-7 minutes) so that students do not get bored. He also recommended recalling of earlier concepts, reinforcing/testing understanding of the concept being discussed, as and when needed during the class hour. For Mathematical equations/derivations, Dr. Viraj Kumar advised faculty to provide lecture materials that are neatly written/typed, with numbered steps, and to help students clear their doubts about specific steps. With respect to this challenge, he gave the following tasks to the participants.
Task 2: Create a PPT showing a complex step-by-step solution, with suitable questions in between.
Task 3: State what skills you want students to have when they “understand” a mathematical proof, and then give an example of an appropriate exam question.
Dr. Viraj Kumar suggested whetting of the lecture content by experts. He emphasized that it is important to have a review process.
Challenge 3: Quizzes (Attendance, Attentiveness and Flipped)
The third challenge mentioned by Dr. Viraj Kumar was retaining students’ attention during online classes. He recommended creating Moodle quizzes to retain the attention of the students throughout the lecture session. In this respect, he gave the following tasks to the participants.
Task 4: Create a Moodle quiz.
Task 5: Create MCQs where CBM (Certainty-Based Marking) would be appropriate.
Challenge 4: Labs
The fourth challenge highlighted by Dr. Viraj Kumar was about conducting lab sessions and lab exams. He suggested using Virtual Labs (http://vlab.co.in) and to do video recording of lab sessions for which explanation through online class may not be sufficient. He advised the faculty participants to explain to the students about what key skills they are developing in that particular lab. For the lab exam, he proposed preparing questions in such a way that students’ understanding of a non-trivial experimental process and interpretation of observation can be evaluated. In this respect, he gave the following tasks to the participants.
Task 6: Provide answers to as many lab sessions as possible.
Task 7: Create suitable lab exam questions.
Challenge 5: Exams
The fifth challenge mentioned by Dr. Viraj Kumar was about preparing a question paper beyond RBT Level 3. He pointed out that two most common types of exam questions are related to ‘Define …’ and ‘Solve….’. He gave tips to convert RBT Level 2 questions to RBT Level 3. In this respect, he gave the following task to the participants.
Task 8: Improve past exam questions by raising the RBT level.
Regarding online exam conduction, he said that a remote proctoring approach is unfeasible beyond a point. He suggested a few low-intensity alternatives for the conduction of the exam:
He also suggested to get the students to ‘sign’ a pledge before the exam, promising that they will not engage in any unethical practices during the examination.
At the conclusion of the First session, Dr. Viraj Kumar told the participants to work on the given tasks.
During the Second session, the participants formed groups and worked on the given tasks. Groups for each task were formed as follows:
Task 1 & 2: Depts. of CSE and ISE
Task 3: Depts. of Math and EEE
Task 4 & 5: Dept. of ECE
Task 6: Depts. of Chemistry and Physics
Task 7 & 8: Depts. of MECH, CV and AE
During the Third session, all these groups explained their completed task.
Task 1 was explained by Prof. Navya, AP, CSE Dept., with respect to the subject ‘Object Oriented Concept’, and Dr. Muzammil Hussain, ASCP, ISE Dept., with respect to the subject ‘Data Communication’. Both of them explained the content that needs to be created as a bridge topic for the prescribed syllabus.
Task 2 was explained by Prof. Aileen, AP, CSE Dept., with respect to the subject ‘Programming in C’, and Dr. Mannar Manan, ASCP, ISE Dept., with respect to the subject ‘Database Management System’. Both of them gave details of step by step process for explaining a complex concept/problem.
Task 3 was explained by Dr. Sharada, ASCP, Mathematics Dept., with respect.to the topic ‘Rank Correlation’, and Dr. Soumya Mishra, ASCP, EEE Dept., with respect to electrical concept.
Task 4 & 5 were explained by Prof. Murugesh K, AP, ECE Dept., using sample Moodle Quiz questions.
Task 6 was explained by Prof. Preethi G, AP, Dept of Chemistry for Engineering Chemistry Lab with respect to the experiment ‘Estimation of total hardness of a given water sample’. Dr. Krishnamoorthy, AP, Physics Dept., explained virtual lab usage with respect to the experiment on Newton’s Rings.
Task 7 & 8 were explained by Dr. Vivekananda Huddar, HOD, Mechanical Engineering Dept. He explained Task 7 with respect to Fluid machinery lab, Foundry and Forging lab and Material testing lab. For Task 8, he showed some sample RBT Level 3 questions such as: ‘Identify a suitable device for combustion in a diesel engine’, ‘Which is the correct equation to find the indicated power of the oil engine?’ etc.
After Tasks 7 & 8 were explained by the faculty from the Mechanical Engineering Dept., Task 7 was explained by Prof. Muralidhara R, HOD, Civil Engineering Dept. and Prof. Shambhavi, AP, also from the Civil Engineering Dept. Both explained Task 7 with respect to Fluid machines and Hydraulic Machines Lab, and Environmental Engineering lab. Then, Task 8 was explained by Prof. Chandrasekaran, AP and Prof. Dakshayini, AP, both from Civil Engineering Dept. They showed some sample RBT Level 3 questions such as: ‘A block is resting on a smooth floor, as shown in the Figure. Can it be in equilibrium?’, ‘Spot the error in the below diagram and give appropriate justification’ etc.
Tasks 7 & 8 were also done by faculty from the AE Dept., with regard to Aircraft Propulsion Lab and Aircraft Structure lab. They had prepared sample RBT Level 3 questions: ‘Given the complex plane root locations for a typical business jet, match each location to the appropriate dynamic mode of motion’, ‘For a given Jet Engine Performance test data, determine the test data for ISA conditions’ etc.
For the explanations each of these tasks, Dr. Viraj Kumar gave his valuable suggestions for improvement. Finally, the session concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. P Mahabaleswarappa, Principal, MVJCE.
Outcome of the event:
The participants expressed their opinion that the training was very interactive and effective. This webinar introduced a new pedagogical approach towards the online teaching learning environment. The participants understood the importance of identifying factors for effective teaching through the online platform.