April issue Editorial

Dear valued readers,

Welcome to this April issue of NELTA ELT Forum!

Crisis, lockdown and social distancing have been the new normal across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are not sure how long this will continue. While academic institutions in Nepal and in other parts of the world are shut down physically, they have embraced remote teaching to continue their academic activities. The pandemic has spared none of us and has impacted us in different ways. Nonetheless, we have been able to bring out the new issue of NELTA ELT Forum. We hope that this issue, which has been published after a long silence, will be helpful for many of you who are searching some contents to read during this time when many of you are getting engaged virtually in a teaching and learning process. Since we have also published this in the beginning of Nepali New year, we would like to wish our Nepali readers a happy Nepali new year 2077.

We would like to apologize to our readers that we could not bring issues regularly owing to several reasons, which we do not think worth discussions here. This new issue will be the final issue from the current editorial committee of NELTA ELT Forum. In this sense, this issue is also a special issue for us. The next issue will be brought to you by a soon-to-be-formed new ELT Forum editorial committee. At this point, we would like to take the opportunity to thank NELTA for the warm support it rendered regularly to the editorial committee to run ezine.  We would like to thank Hemanta Raj Dahal, the founding patron of NELTA ELT Forum, Meera Shrestha, the immediate past-president of NELTA and Motikala Subba Dewan, the current president of NELTA. Similarly, we would also like to thank the past NELTA ELT Forum committees who worked tirelessly to establish and run several issues of NELTA ELT Forum before our tenure. Thanks also goes to NELTA present and past committees, entire NELTA members, staffs and our valued readers from home and abroad who supported us tremendously. The authors who contributed to our forum deserve our sincere gratitude. Without them, this forum would not have gained any meaning at all. At the time of publishing this issue, our total views stands at  93,345 from 165 plus countries. This shows how widely we are read and how we became successful to reach out to the global community.

As regards this issue, it does not comprise any research-based article; nevertheless, we hope that the writings published here will be informative for our readers. The first article by Dr Suman Laudari provides some general advice to enhance remote teaching. A suitable article to the present context, it will help teachers and academics who are confused and unsure of how they can do teaching and learning remotely. The second opinion-based article by Sagun Shrestha presents how online classes can cope with the impact of the crisis situation in academic institutions. It is a very timely opinion-based article which can provide some ideas related to running classes online in this global pandemic. The third article by Mandira Adhikari presents the narrative of one of the academic managers from Juriel Rural Municipality at Doti who played a pivotal role for the transformation of her institution. We hope that this narrative can help the current and would-be academic managers gain some insights to run academic institutions successfully.

The fourth article by Gopal Prasad Bashyal presents qualities of a good teacher trainer on the basis of his own experience. He claims that every teacher educator needs to know the content of the delivery and the audience he/she is addressing to which determines the choice of the process in a teacher education programme.

For the ease of the readers, we have hyperlinked each article below:

  1. Strategies to enhance remote teaching by Suman Laudari
  2. Online Classes in Nepal: Can they manage the impact of crisis situation in academic institutions? by Sagun Shrestha
  3. Challenging the challenges: Public school’s move for a change by Mandira Adhikari
  4. Shifting paradigm of training: content and process options by Gopal Prasad Bashyal

Finally, we would like to state that we are very much looking forward to reading the new issue brought up by a new editorial committee. We would also like to wish a soon-to-be-formed new editorial committee all the best for their successful tenure.

 

Issue Editors,

Sagun Shrestha and Dr. Suman Laudari

&

The entire NELTA ELT Forum Editorial Team

Strategies to Enhance Remote Teaching

*Suman Laudari

As stated in the editorial, the pandemic has spared none of us. It is an unprecedented situation. Unfortunately, in the absence of a cure for the virus, lockdown, self-isolation and self-distancing have been the best strategies to contain the spread. While these measures have helped to save lives, our daily activities have come to a standstill. Education institutions have been forced to close down, and teaching and learning activities in most parts of the world are happening remotely. While we need to commend the efforts put by educators and the educational institutions, we need to understand and embrace the fact that ‘lift and shift’ of face-to-face teaching/learning activities to online platforms do not equate carefully planned online teaching. A good online course requires time, effort and design. Given the urgency of the situation and nature of the institutions, not all academics and teachers, mostly in developing and under-developed countries, have access to resources to carefully design their teaching and learning activities. If teachers take it as an excuse, the downfall in the educational delivery and its impact, in the long run, could be more harmful than that of the pandemic. It is in this context, this article is written to provide pedagogical tips to enhance remote teaching.

Drawing on the best practices at different universities, informal communication with academics at University of Technology Sydney and my personal experience of classroom teaching and educational design, in this article I provide ten tips to enhance your remote teaching practice. Most of these are general advice and already known to teachers. However, they are found to have been helpful to enhance teaching/learning experiences.

1 Housekeeping. If you are teaching remotely using Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, it is a good strategy to start your session with housekeeping. A set of rules such as when to unmute mic, when and how to ask questions, how you will answer the queries, and whether and how you expect them to interact with each other are considered helpful in establishing your expectations from your students. Regardless of the nomenclature conventions and the mode of delivery, it is good to begin your session with expected behaviour. Housekeeping helps prepare your students’ mindset about what to expect from your class and what is expected of them.

2 Start with pedagogy. It is important to understand that pedagogy always comes before technology. This is important for several reasons, but this article considers two. First, technology is rapidly changing. You come across different tools and different platforms. Also, interestingly no one technology offers perfect solutions to your problems, and your classroom strategies may not always work when you decide to use a particular technology. So, time spent on thinking about how you want to teach using the technology will be time well spent. Thinking about your lesson, activities and strategies to execute them will help you mitigate the unforeseen challenges that you may encounter when you go online. Continue reading →

Online Classes in Nepal: Can they manage the impact of crisis situation in academic institutions?

*Sagun Shrestha

Running online classes can be a wise and very pragmatic decision during this coronavirus crisis period since it is important to get in touch with the learners and make them get engaged in some potential academic activities. This crisis period seems indefinite, and the conduction of online classes to engage learners in some academic activities can be both academic and emotional support for students at this point of time.

Particularly for Nepali students, online classes will help them be engaged in some academic activities and at the same time, provide opportunity to enhance their digital literacies (For digital literacies, see Living in the digital world). In addition, it will also help change the students’ perspective in relation to the closure of academic institution owing to any crisis situation. The general trend of associating closure of academic institution due to crisis situation to free time or no academic engagement can be altered to learners’ productive engagement with the help of the conduction of online courses.

As regards the case of Nepali students, the concerned people who are involved in teaching and learning, primarily teachers, need to be careful while planning to run online classes. Firstly, there is a need to collect some data about the digital literacies of the learners as well as some potential tools that learners can use during online mode. We need to acknowledge the fact that in Nepal, we are working in a low resource teaching and learning circumstances – in a very limited availability of digital resources. Thus, ‘how-tos’ tutorials for handling tools should be produced at the outset of launching online classes. Both synchronous learning, which allow for the delivery of lessons in a real time and in a form of live session, such as using Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, ezTalks, etc. and asynchronous learning in which the lesson delivery is not in a real time and the responses are delayed, such as using learning management system, Moodle, Canvas, etc. can be adopted to run online classes.

In case the learners are of school age, keeping in touch through parents’ email or any institutional mobile application can also be helpful for both parents and learners. Interested parents can track how their children get engaged in some of the online activities, at the same time, by attending online classes, learners can still find appropriate ambience to get engaged in learning activities. Consequently, they will not be away from their learning environment for a long time. All parents may not have the same level of digital literacies; thus, parents’ digital literacies also has to be considered while designing any online courses for school level learners. If the online classes are designed for the students in higher education, a designer needs to check the target learners’ digital competences and plan accordingly. Continue reading →

Challenging the challenges: Public school’s move for a change

*Mandira Adhikari

Gita Joshi lives in Doti at Juriel Rural Municipality and works as a Principal at Shree Padma Public Muktinarayan Secondary School. The school runs classes from preschool up to grade 12, and there is one special resource class which is designed for the learners having special needs. There are three faculties in grade 11 and 12: Education, Humanities and Management. They are also planning to run Science faculty in near future. The students are around 1200, and there are 30 teachers working altogether including permanent as well as on a temporary basis.

The number of teachers isn’t enough in comparison to the number of students. Sometimes Gita and her colleagues feel overloaded since they have to take extra classes. However, considering the performance of the students in the national test run by CTEVT (Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training); they are able to gain the trust of the local community for the quality of education they have provided. The number of students in their school has increased over the years. In the last academic year, 205 students registered in grade nine, and to manage this large number, they divided the students in different sections. While that helped to manage the class size, they did not have enough teachers.

Regarding updating herself as well as the school, Gita says, “I have been updating myself by going to several websites and trying myself to be computer literate. As the school has been acknowledged as a ‘Namuna School’ (literal translation – a model school), the students and teachers need to get [learn how to use technology] and for that we need to learn new things with eagerness which I have been encouraging in each staff meeting”.

As a leader of the public school in the remote area of Nepal, she has faced a number of challenges. She explains, “Most of the staff are very energetic. Few staff (not all) are less motivated but I don’t want to go to the dark part. When we are in a group, most of my colleagues who are school leaders share that they might be bigger in terms of their property of a school but you [we] are powerful having the most energetic staff (teachers). Besides all these activities, I have also worked in the areas to maintain the regularity of the students. I wanted to invite you to the school assembly and show you how we conduct the assembly but due to the time constraint we couldn’t manage it.  Sometimes we even play contemporary popular songs so that students would enjoy and come to school and participate in assembly being self-oriented.” Continue reading →

Shifting paradigm of training: Content and process options

*Gopal Prasad Bashyal

Quality teachers are prerequisite for quality education. However, a learner’s role is considered as a crucial factor for accomplishing objectives of all educational programmes. A teacher is appreciated when he/she accepts choices of contents and delivery processes. Although the purpose and audience of the programme suggest the proper choices of methods, there is no pattern and neither of the modes of delivery i.e., focusing on contents and delivery process or focusing on purpose and audience of the programme is claimed as the super solution. Content, process and person are three fundamental aspects of all education programmes. This brief article presents the reasons for focusing on all these three aspects viz., content, process and person in teaching and learning process.

Content and process

I recently received a verbal appreciation of a Head Teacher at the end of a ten-day training workshop (TW) as “Your way of thoroughly guiding us at several stages is especially profitable to learn the skills, and the contents are of our immediate needs.” At the same time, the next participant of Secondary English teachers added, “I like your cool, humourous, supportive presence and engaging us at several processes.”

These two comments are not the exaggerations of what the participants feel about the training curricula and delivery procedures; they summarized the triangular relationship of content, process and person for the effectiveness of teacher education programme. There is no doubt that there is a growing interest more in the process than in content in the training programmes. However, the purpose and audience of the programme decide the choices between content or process and the modes of delivery. For instance, job induction, curriculum orientation and orientation on special events to short term officials like voting officers are mainly concerned with acquainting with major policy or programmatic provisions in the area. Therefore, the training delivery is more trainer-centred and emphasis lies on imparting content concepts explicitly. If the training is to enhance pedagogy, the training curriculum is designed to make the programme like a workshop where the participants are engaged throughout various activities. Continue reading →