Covid-19: How a Gurugram institute moved classes seamlessly online

Chitra Narayanan New Delhi | Updated on March 20, 2020

Students of Indian School of Hospitality did not lose a single class due to the coronavirus scare

Last week, as the Haryana government ordered schools and colleges shut till March 31, students at the swank new Indian School of Hospitality (ISH) in Gurugram began jubilantly planning what to do with their unexpected ‘stay at home’ holiday.

But their jubilation was short lived as the institute, on Monday (Mach 16), seamlessly moved into the online learning mode and not a day of class was lost.

Eight batches (first- and second-year students of the two undergraduate courses and all students of the four diploma courses ) of the two-year-old institute have all been migrated to digital classrooms.

Being prepared

“When we saw the Delhi administration shutting down colleges and schools, we had an inkling that Haryana would follow suit and had prepared for this,” says Dilip Puri, ISH Chairman.

What made the migration to digital classrooms seamless were the huge technological investments ISH had made when it was starting out, in 2018.

It had spent nearly 20 per cent of its capital cost on technology investing in Zoom, Samsung flipboards, smart boards, projectors, 4,000 Lumens cameras, mikes at every desk in every class as well as a virtual classroom. “At that time people asked us why we had put in so much technology but now it has paid off,” says Puri. From the beginning all the classes were video recorded and put on the learning management system (LMS), he adds.

What’s surprising is that attendance has been higher in online classes than in the physical ones, observes Puri. Students are emailed a link to the Zoom meeting session, the notification pops up in their calendar and they can click on it to go directly into the app for the class.

The same timetable that the institute followed in physical mode is being followed online. Second- year students have classes of two hours each with a 10 minute break in between, while first-year students have one-hour classes.

Teething trouble

There was some teething trouble on the first day as the students were muted by the teacher, recalls Abir Malik, a second-year hospitality management student at ISH. But, by the next class, when they were unmuted, they could have the same lively discussions online as they did offline. “The software allows us to share videos and presentations and it’s pretty much as good as attending the class live — if not better,” he says.

What’s more, if any student looked inattentive, the teacher can zoom in the camera on him/her and pose a sudden question.

Dress code

The students may be logging into class from their homes, but they have been told they have to strictly follow formal dress codes (business suits), says Puri. “They will be marked absent if found to be logging in wearing pajamas.”

Right now the teachers are coming to the institute to deliver the sessions, but from next week they can do so from their own homes. Are they comfortable teaching online? “All are trained to use online tools. But we also had two test sessions before we went live,” says Puri.

Practical classes will also be conducted online, informs Puri, as the students can watch the culinary demos and practise at home.

Other means

The JD Institute of Fashion Technology, too, has switched to virtual classes, though in a different format. Says Rupal Dalal, the institute’s Executive Director: “We send students a video presentation and ask them to go through it and understand. After a week, students will asked to build their own notes and then, we will arrange a Skype call with each student for clarification and clearing the doubts. “

Globally, some institutes are reporting the use of VR (virtual reality) to facilitate learning in an engaging way.

As Puri sums up, “What this forced online classes will do is build a lifelong virtual learning capability in kids.”

Published on March 20, 2020

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