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Conducting Practical Sessions in Online Mode: Opportunity for value addition

Manisha Talware

Lecturer in EJ/IS, 

AISSMS’s Polytechnic

Most of the teachers like me might conduct practical sessions for science and technology courses in online mode now. Pandemic made this happen. Shall we thank pandemic for such an opportunity or keep cursing?  It is all dependent on how one looks at it. Early discussions were centered on why not do it? What are the limitations and how it will affect a teaching-learning process?   Very few attempted to develop content for practical sessions for the subjects, which need experimentations using materials, tools, equipment, and test setups.  Whether this was really new and never seen before for others? No. It’s quite known to most of the teachers and many of us had attended at least few sessions during our academic or professional career.  The next question is whether we are scared of the usage of technology or incompetent to handle it? Not at all. Whether we teachers are scared about delivering content online? No again.

Practical conduct is always thought of as verification of concept taught in theory and establishing the truth, affirming it. The method usually follows demonstration by teachers and then experimentation by students under given sets of parameters and constraints. Output is usually proof or trend of a particular process or to understand the effect of some material or process. Practical is ideally expected to be carried out by an individual student, in reality, it is carried out as a group activity. Naturally, some members of the group are passive, not doing anything. Another way round, one can say, the system including teacher failed to generate the interest, for whatsoever reason.

The real issue in online conduction is more of psychological nature and mindset. It is hidden in a way, our generation brought up and the way we communicate, interact with each other and students. We always like the audience in front of us and expect to express and interact.  MUTED mike and OFF Video miss the bus for communication.  Many times, it is claimed even by eminent, that practical must be physically conducted. Agree with it. But, when the situation does not allow you to conduct so, you cannot stop. As time never waits and one has to ready for the alternatives, what matters is to be receptive and tune ourselves with the situation. See the opportunity in it.

 

Example 1 : Simulation of Electronic Circuit Example 2 : Simulation of Network Topology

 

When you are conducting it in online mode and internet connectivity, the availability of simulation software is not an issue, the real challenge is to understand and practice the method. I had displayed two such examples of electronic circuit of operational amplifier and CISCO packet tracer – STAR network for easy reference. Replicate what we do in physical conduction mode. A better part of this is, we can record and reproduce it, as required. Quite easy to set and tune, as everything is virtual. There is minimum risk of breakages and no fear of an accident. No need to run from pillar to post and pick and place bulky equipment. On top of this, everybody is doing it independently. It becomes a must-do activity and no member can be passive. If everyone practices it, is a boon. One can do repetitions and all possible combinations, at his time and pace. The entire setup is in your system and just a click away, apply innovative methods explore all possible limits.  A complete video journal can also be created out of this for records and evaluation purposes.  If stressed further, more opportunities for adding value to the subject matter can be explored. Institutes of repute are already doing this. Now it’s our turn, a pandemic had provided the opportunity, let’s grab it and flourish the teaching-learning process.