- Anyone can construct an online classroom system!
- We use these softwares separately for different purposes. But, when used together for a single purpose, it builds a simple eco-system for teachers and students alike.
- For teachers, managing tasks, students, etc becomes easier and it brings discipline. Much like what used to be in a classroom environment.
- For students, it establishes discipline, learning structure and continues the process of a scholastic year.
- Most importantly, building an online classroom eco-system is free of cost!
For this, we will need the following.
- A laptop – Basic laptop with a 15” screen, a front camera, a mouse and for safety’s sake, a headset with a microphone (just like a phone headset, which will also work)
- An internet connection with data – A 4G connection gives speeds upto 15 Mbps. Which is great! But, in case there are 4G connectivity issues, use a similar broadband connection. The data used per day (for a 6 hour class), would be approximately 4-5 GB (on the higher side). So make sure that you have a connection with at least 150 GB per month data usage.
There are two ways you can do build an online classroom ecosystem. But before we get into it. Let us understand what tools will we be using. Click on the belowmentioned to go online to the webpages. It would be useful to know the “Hows” of it all by aquainting yourself a bit more deeply with what each software can do!
- Google Chrome – Default browser
- Google Drive – Cloud drive where all data is to be stored
- Google Meet – Video conferencing software
- Google Docs / Sheets / Slides – Composing softwares
- Google Email and Calendar – Emails and calendars to manage tasks, classes, etc
- Google Forms – To create tests
- Google Classroom – In case the school has set it up for you!
Before we go into the methods, if you are ready to setup, please make sure you are connected to the internet and your battery is full and get yourself that massive mug of Kaapi…preferably the organic Chicory 90% blend with loads of jaggery! Heh…
METHOD # 01 – THE SCHOOL or a person with adequate knowledge sets it up.
Google Classroom (please click to view) is a free service that Google has setup to help teachers teach students in a virtualised environment.
- This require a process of understanding how this all works..
- It integrates Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Gmail, and calendar into one platform to manage student and teacher communication.
- Students can be invited to join a class through a private code, or automatically imported from a school domain.
- Teachers can create, distribute and mark assignments all within the Google ecosystem.
- Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user’s Google Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher.
- Assignments and due dates are added to Google calendar, each assignment can belong to a category (or topic).
- Teachers can monitor the progress for each student by reviewing revision history of a document, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments.
This is more of an institutional service and may require a person with adequate knowledge of the workings of Google Classroom to manage and moderate. This can be done through the IT departments of schools.
METHOD # 02 – THE TEACHER sets it up!
This is where is gets a bit exciting! This needs a day or two at the most to setup. Do it slowly and steadily and give yourself time to understand the process and be aquainted with it.
Step # 01
- Register your school’s email address (do not use your personal Gmail ID for work) on Google Email (Use this link) You could choose the option “For myself” and in the next page choose the option “Use my current email address instead” and put in your school address.
Step # 02
- Download and install Google Chrome using this link on your laptop and on your phones.
- Sign into your new Google Account
- Go to preferences
- Turn on sync
- In Privacy and Security.
- Check Safe browsing
- Check Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic
iii. Uncheck Allow sites to check if you have payment methods saved
- Uncheck Preload pages for faster browsing and searching
Step # 03
- Once the sign in is complete, go to
- Google Drive (Use this link) and sign in with your ID to see if it works.
- Do the same with Google Meet (Use this link) and sign in with your ID to see if it works.
Step # 04
- Go to Google Forms (Use this link) and sign in with your ID to see if it works.
- Once done, download Google Drive and Google Meet on your laptop, phone and tablet.
- Google Drive – Laptops / iPhone / Android
- Google Meet – On Laptops there’s no app to download, use a Google Chrome / iPhone / Android
Step # 05
- Make sure your version of Microsoft Office is licensed from your school.
- If you don’t have access to a licensed version of Microsoft Office, use OpenOffice using this link instead. It is free of cost and equally good.
- Alternatively, you can create files on Google Drive using the following.
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to work offline with your files, then you can do it in Chrome using the above-mentioned three extensions.
Now your environment is setup. You will now use
- Google Meet for Video Conferencing
- Google Forms to create assignments and tests
- Google Docs to create Word documents
- Google Sheets to create Excel sheets
- Google Slides to create power point presentations
- Google Drive to store all data in Cloud.
- Google Chrome to access all of the above.
Now for some knowhow about how to interact while in an online classroom environment.
It is not easy for work and personal life to merge in ONE, constant environment. This gives rise to stress, low focus on one task (personal or professional), anger, etc which may transfer to individuals in physical proximity and to students online as well .
A few steps can be taken to cope with this better.
- Just like (what used to be) a normal day-to-day school, establish that same routine / time schedule of a regular work day.
- Disconnect from personal tasks when working and vice-versa.
- Set ground rules for everyone in your personal and professional space. This should pertain to interference during work / personal hours. While interference should be allowed (it happens in normal life), it should not occupy your entire time.
- If possible, setup an “office area” in your house/apartment.
- Give yourself time and space away from both personal and professional work.
- Hydrate! Drink lots of fluids and scheduled meals (this is important!)
- When talking to a group, it is fine to look around but here all eyes (students) converge into ONE (the camera on your laptop). It is quite important to look into the camera frequently. This will make sure that you have eye contact with EACH INDIVIDUAL STUDENT in the class.
- Make sure that your laptop camera is at the same height as your eyes (slightly lower is fine but not higher). This makes sure that your posture and look at at the same height as the individuals on your screen. This is important for maintaining attentions spans.
- Make sure you keep at least 1.5 feet (or equivalent) distance from the laptop camera. Make sure that the individuals seeing you on screen are able to see your hands moving and your entire face as well.
- The virtual world is an equitable world, the school may not be consdeiered as one. Which means that virtual gatherings are equitable communities. Here, usually generational separations occur due to lack of proper knowledge on one side and lack of patience on the other. To bridge this gap, vitual interactivity is important. There are quite a few games that enable interactions between teachers and students. These games have no learning puposes but might be capable of easing the pains endured by the two sets. Here are some examples (some of these are for people over 18 years)
And here are some general do’s and dont’s in a nutshell.
- Do not play the blame game with each other.
- This is a new platform. There could be some initial troubles which can be sorted out eventually.
- If there are complaints or suggestions bring it up to the authorities. Do not bring it up in between classes.
- Understand that it is a taxing and uncertain time for all of us but if we stay together and support each other we can overcome this in a better fashion.
- Adhere to cyber ethics and cyber safety rules.
- Do not take videos or photos of teachers and students without their permission.
- Do not troll others or morph photographs and pass it around. You become a part of cyber bullying or worse criminal offences by doing so.
- Do not click on unauthorised links unless it’s coming to you from official sources.
- Give your personal information only to verified sources.
- Do not make online friends with people you do not know. Many of them do not reveal their real identity.
- Cyber bullying is a punishable criminal offence.
- Take a deep breath every fifteen minutes and relax.
- Stay hydrated.
- Give the same seriousness and importance to online classes as the regular classes.The content and teacher are the same. Only the platform is different.
- Keep a dedicated physical space with good lighting for the class. Keep all the necessary items with you like books, pen, ruler etc.
- Check your posture. Sit up straight.
- Keep all other gadgets away from your classroom space.
- Be attentive.
- Accept that it’s only a matter of time before you are back into your schools/ colleges. This is needed for staying safe in the current situation.
- Have some pleasant wallpaper on your gadget like a waterfall or forest.
- Soon after class switch off for some time from all gadgets and relax for some time.
- Exercise your eyes and take care of them.
- Make sure you are in a good space when you go in for classes.
- Prepare well for the class. That will boost your confidence.
- Don’t allow small incidents to stress you out.
- Keep an open mind. Take criticism in a constructive way. Accept the good points and ignore the rest.
- Support each other.
- Take breaks in between teaching and work at home.
- Make sure you give yourself time for self care.
- Practice deep breathing.
- Set boundaries.
- Take time out for yourself.
- Reach out for support if you feel you need it.
FOR FAMILIES OF TEACHERS
- Give them some time alone from family time and school time.
- They are taking on immense strain trying to teach online.
- Make a comfortable setting for your child for the classes.
- Make sure they take time to relax and take break in between.
- Don’t tax them. They are also coping.
- Make sure they stay hydrated.
- Do understand that it is a strain for the teacher to teach online. They are also facing the same uncertainty like the rest of us .
- Do keep in mind that most are also working at home trying to look after their families in between their teaching.
- Do support them because we need to do this together.
- Give teachers the space to conduct the classes their way.
- Do not stress your child and teachers by sitting in the call and interfering or criticizing.
- Mail in your suggestions if you have any.
- You are free to home school your child if you find the teaching is lacking.
- But by doing this together and supporting each other we only end up with helping our children.
- When we put down teachers we imbibe in our children a lack of respect for people around.
GENERAL FOR EVERYBODY
If you feel stressed or can’t seem to cope please reach out for help. We are all here for you. Call us at +91 889 132 0005.
Paramangsu Mukherjee (Poro) is a media and entertainment designer. He has been working at the crossroads of strategy, technology and art for 28-years.