Online Classes In Aligarh Muslim University During Nationwide Lockdown

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by Suhail Mohammed 19 April 2020

The recently announced extended lockdown in the country has severely affected the regular classes all across the county including Aligarh Muslim University and it’s maintained off-campuses. The second, fourth and sixth semester examinations for the under graduate students, the second and fourth semester examinations for the post graduate level and the various entrance examinations in the campus were scheduled to be conducted by the University during May-June. The prolonged lockdown and the probable shutdown of educational institutions beyond May 3 has put the University administration in a quandary which has so far conducted several meetings to look for alternatives for conducting the university examinations. The University has constituted a committee comprising of Prof. Perez Mustajab (Dean, faculty of Engineering and Technology), Prof. Aasim Zafar (Co-ordinator, IGNOU), Prof. Mohammad Rizwan Khan (Director, IQAC) to work out guidelines for Online Examination and Online Teaching.

Recently, in a letter addressed to the teachers, students and parents of the AMU fraternity, the Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. Tariq Mansoor reiterated that the current challenges should be looked into an opportunity to acquire new skills in virtual teaching, learning and evaluation methods and advised the teachers to conduct online classes through various platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom. To promote ‘Online Teaching’, the University is soon going to conduct an ‘Orientation Course’ by UGC HRDC Centre/Computer Centre of the University for the teachers.

Some of the university teachers in these difficult times are already conducting classes through various platforms including cloud meeting app Zoom and Google Classroom. Most of the teachers are in direct touch with the students through WhatsApp groups where teachers share reading and texts and the queries are addressed with proper attention giving each an individual slot.

A profilic writer and an enthusiast, Asim Siddiqui, professor in the department of English, AMU has so far conducted 28 online sessions through Zoom meeting platform. The students of MA English second semester, fourth semester, research scholars and even from other Universities attend these sessions. These meetings are also attended by his fellow colleague Prof Munira T and Ms. Alisha Ikbar. Prof Asim often invites his ex-students, who are now teachers at various institutes in the country and thereby creating virtual but a vibrant class. Prof Nandini Bhattacharya of the University of Burdwan has recently attended one such lecture on contemporary literary theory.

Prof Asim says, ‘The open nature of this ‘classroom’ allows not only students from different semesters, but also interested colleagues and even participants from other universities to attend the lectures. I also don’t feel the pressure of ‘finishing’ (as if one can) the course and know that I can discuss the same thing tomorrow’. He further says, ‘The students are part of a historic change in the mode of teaching and learning’. Techno savvy Prof. Asim records the live lectures and shares to revisit them at any preferable time for the learners and clear their doubts. To him, the current unprecedented situation has opened an window for digital learning. He also shares chapters written by him for MHRD’s epathshala and MOOC programme in the class WhatsApp group.

Prof Vibha Sharma of the department conducts her class on post modern to contemporary British drama on Google Classroom whereas Dr. Sadaf Fareed conducts her class on diasporic women’s writings through Zoom meetings. The district of Aligrah has so far not seen any surge in Covid_19 cases.

Most central universities have had to postpone their final examinations which usually take place in the month of May and June and have also been forced to postpone their entrance examinations for various courses. The Gauhati University in the state of Assam has scrapped the month long summer vacation which happens in the month of July for the university and for about its 350 affiliated colleges and institutions to make up with the current academic losses. The school board of the state, SEBA is keen on conducting tele-classes and this has tremendously helped the students from the rural background who don’t even pose an android phone for attending online classes.

”In view of such an unprecedented situation and considering the seriousness with which we need to address all the related issues as mentioned, the Gauhati University hereby announces that the coming summer vacation, which falls in the month of July, 2020, is hereby withdrawn for the university classes and its affiliated colleges/institutes unless otherwise notified depending on success of containment of spread of Covid-19,” said a notification issued by the GU registrar HK Nath on Thursday. The state presently has 28 active cases of Covid_19.

In Pic: Prof. Asim Siddiqui of the department of English, Aligarh Muslim University conducting an online class on cloud meeting app Zoom. The class was also attended by Prof Nandini Bhattacharya of The University of Burdwan, West Bengal.

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