Online classes at a Pakistani institute during Coronavirus shutdown

Coronavirus can write the future of Pakistan in many ways. Ever since Coronavirus shutdown, the voices of online live classes are getting louder, but no one actually implemented this simple idea. Until now!

Online classes at a Pakistani institute during Coronavirus shutdownOn March 3, 2020, I had the absolute honor of unofficially conducting an online class of 100 students. To my knowledge, this was Pakistan’s first online live class during Coronavirus shutdown. I was at Dow College of Pharmacy, Karachi, while my students were probably at their homes to attend the lecture. All 100 of the them attended the session out of their own volition. Students were excited and the feedback was just amazing. 

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I believe a simple model for conducting classes can be applicable to many institutes that face similar shutdowns now and in the future. I used a free version of an easy-to-use app called “Zoom”.

Here are a few points for those who want to implement this model in their institute for live classes:

Where to begin:

Install “Zoom” from Google Playstore. Installation just requires a valid email. You can conduct a class by setting up a “Meeting”. Invite participants (students) to the meeting through their emails.

Privacy protection:

Since no phone number is involved, students feel comfortable. In the options of the meeting, you should keep videos off for the Host (teacher) and the remaining participants (students). This will ensure that students do not see you or each other, neither can you see the students.

 Why is this important?

Students might be attending the session in casual dresses and would not want to show their sleepy faces to each other or to the teacher. Let the students relax a bit and keep the video option closed. During the meeting/class, select “screenshare” so that everyone looks at the slides instead.

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Interaction:

To explain my topic, I kept writing on the PowerPoint slides in real time. Yes, this and many other apps allow you to do that. If someone has a question during the class, they can simply type the question in a small, separate chat-window. It is your choice to answer them right away through audio or type in the answers. I personally prefer reading the questions out loud rather than privately or publicly typing a particular answer.

Discipline:

I kept all my students on mute. Students could not hear anything except whatever I was saying. Only I was the audible person in the session. If you trust your participants, please feel free to unmute some of them!

Free of cost:

I do not know why I am not mentioning it at the beginning. Anyways, the free version allows you to teach up to 99 students for up to 40 min. I had at least 25 students lined up who could not attend the class. So, keep exploring other apps and software if you want a bigger time-slot for online classes.

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Ease for the students and the teacher:

You just need two things: Internet and a mobile phone (or laptop). You can teach your class on the go.

By using similar approaches, we can shape the future of the country. When historians would write history of Pakistan in light of Coronavirus, they would hopefully mention that rather than just criticizing the government, this nation started taking responsibility for their own actions in view of  Coronavirus. Let us use the available resources to their fullest. Live online classes are the key to our near future.

Author:   Jamshed Arslan, Pharm D, PhD Assistant Professor Dow College of PharmacyDow University of Health Sciences, Ojha campus Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

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