March 2020 has probably found a place in history as the starting point of mass digital transformation across sectors at a pace never seen before. Overnight, social distancing and working from home have become widely accepted norms, and so did remote learning, a concept not novel by any means, but one that was sidelined for a very long time due to deep-rooted traditional practices in education and reluctance to change.
Remote learning, or online learning as it is more commonly known, is the digital avatar of distance learning or correspondence courses that many institutions of higher learning and professional studies have attempted for decades. It has come a long way since, from the days of receiving course materials via post to watching lectures on TV channels to a highly engaging and collaborative learning environment aided by HD video conferencing tools, social networking enabled learning management systems, and live instructor and peer interactions.
Interestingly enough, many organizations that firmly believed working from home is not their cup of tea have become savvy in conducting business remotely, almost overnight. Similarly, educational institutions of all kinds, from schools to universities and even hobby classes across the globe have jumped onboard remote learning in 3 weeks flat! This is remarkable, no one has probably done it before at this pace, and many are probably not sure what they are doing, but everyone seems to agree this is the way forward, at least for the near future.
If you are familiar with the formal education sector, you will be smiling when you look at the speed at which this digital transformation is taking place, considering how long it normally takes to introduce even one small change to a curriculum or teaching strategy under normal circumstances. Today, almost every educational institution and academic leader is delving deep into ed-tech with unprecedented interest and willingness to bring rapid change, and are encouraging teachers to discover opportunities in remote learning, realign learning goals, and to create engaging learning experiences through innovative teaching and assessment strategies.
True School is a pioneer in adopting learning technologies for music education, and have invested significant time and resources over the past 3 years to develop blended learning strategies that extend the learning beyond the classroom. Faculty regularly use the online Learning Management System, Kannu, which is purpose-built for creative education in music, arts, and design to supplement classroom instruction with media-rich deep learning content, online assessments and peer interactions. The extent to which blended learning is practised at True School even led our faculty to work with developers at Kadenze, the makers of Kannu to introduce a number of custom features to enhance the student experience. When COVID-19 induced restrictions came into effect with very little warning, switching to remote learning was not a daunting new unknown for our faculty, but a natural extension of their existing capabilities. In fact, when a total lockdown was announced, True School was going into the final assessment week of the previous term, and the faculty prepared and conducted final assessments, including music performance assessments online in just 4 days.
When True School decided to conduct classes remotely for the April 2020 term, it was very clear to us that we weren’t simply going to create a bunch of Zoom or Google hangout sessions that would desperately attempt to mimic what usually takes place in a regular classroom. We set goals beyond a short term stop-gap arrangement and the social media buzz featuring zoom screenshots of the initial excitement. Our remote learning strategy is shaped by placing the student at the very centre of our universe and asking “how can we get them to where they want to be?” It is designed to make the most productive use of students’ time and maximise learning while they adhere to the strictest of social distancing guidelines. True School’s remote learning strategy ensures course continuity, allows students to earn credits even while staying home, and guarantees access to critical learning facilities on campus to further enhance applied learning when regulations permit.
True School’s academic leadership team focused on faculty enablement for remote teaching and adopted diverse and intelligent instructional design approaches for the different subjects based on learning outcomes, available teaching tools, and most importantly, the learner’s ability to engage with the content remotely. Faculty conducted intensive testing of remote teaching, learning and assessment strategies and created rapid prototype iterations of courses using peer review and feedback. This enabled us to steer clear of a one size fits all approach and build differentiated and personalized learning models for every subject.
Students will experience truly immersive learning in the remote learning versions of True School’s acclaimed Pro courses in Music Production, Music Performance, Hindustani Playback Vocals, and Sound Engineering. Students will learn through weekly live interactions with faculty and engage with a wide variety of rich lesson material on Kannu, including review of pre-recorded audio and video content, practice assignments, online assessments, weekly personalised feedback from faculty, and extensive social interaction in the form of collaborative learning activities and peer assessments. Kannu facilitates a highly interactive and social learning experience, with functions such as integrated personal and group messaging, social networking gestures, and a personal portfolio of creative works compiled from coursework assignments that the students can share with the outside world.
We are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to our courses starting 20 April 2020, and we are very confident that the innovative learning possibilities and its ever-increasing acceptance driven by this unprecedented global phenomenon of social distancing will usher a new era of remote and hybrid learning opportunities, which will also make learning more accessible than ever before.