online classes


Keeping in mind the present Coronavirus situation, the University Grants Commission has issued suggestions with respect to the functioning of universities post lockdown.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Wednesdayreleased a fresh set of guidelines on how universities and colleges should function after the lockdown ends. The guidelines suggested a special emphasis on ensuring learning while ensuring social distancing. It was suggested that colleges open from August for enrolled students and for the new batch, admissions begin in August and classes by September.

The universities shall follow a six day week once they resume operations, as per the recommendations of the UGC panel. For laboratory or practical experiments, students will be allowed to work through virtual laboratories.

Here are some other suggestions by the UGC:

— The universities and colleges have been advised to hold their final year or terminal semester examination from 1st July to 15th July. They can declare their results at the end of the month.

— For first and second-year students, the varsity can conduct exams from July 16-30 and announce results by 14th August, if possible. If not, the students will be graded based on the internal assessments of the past two semesters.

— Universities have also been asked to use innovative modes of examinations and assessments. The duration of exams will be reduced from three hours to two hours. This might be a one-time move.

— The universities have been asked to develop virtual classroom and video conferencing facility and all teaching staff to be trained with the use of technology. Further, all the content of universities will be uploaded in digital form on its official website to be accessed anytime, as per the guidelines of the UGC panel.

— Faculty would be thoroughly trained in information communication technology (ICT) skills as well as online teaching tools. Teachers will be asked to publish 25 per cent of the syllabus through online teaching and the rest through face to face traditional classrooms.

— Every university will establish a COVID-19 cell for handling student grievances related to exams and academic activities during the coronavirus pandemic. The UGC has also announced to establish a helpline for monitoring student grievances in this regard. Among other immediate measures, attendance will be granted to all students for this period.

— The UGC also suggested universities to devise a proforma to record the travel/ stay history of the staff and students for the period when they were away from the university due to lockdown.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives 

Khush Vardhan Dembla

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In her last editorial of her tenure, our Print Editor talks about the socio-political and cultural connotations of expecting productivity in the midst of a Pandemic.

The University of Delhi (DU) is a revered dream for many, with its soaring cut- offs at the top ten colleges, promises of placements (mostly for commerce- based courses), and the affordability of its fee structure which allows undergraduate students to get a degree for as low as INR 50,000. Owing to the hullabaloo and cry over privatisation, one cannot say whether the last factor will sustain much further or not, but for now it is safe to estimate that this University is not home to selectively privileged youngsters.

Therefore, in unprecedented times like these with the Covid-19 Pandemic, DU’s 12th March Press Release, which insists upon maintaining the “continuity of the online teaching-learning process” is premised upon a sweeping generalization of social, economic, cultural, and political privilege.

With over 75 colleges, having an approximate total strength of nearly 1.5 lakh regular students, it is the infrastructure and physical access to the resources (libraries, notes, Internet, classes) available in respective DU colleges that is integral to the teaching-learning process for many students. The national lockdown due to the Pandemic has confined students, like all others, and many students have had to return to their respective homes.

The foundation of the belief that it is possible to continue an education process in the illusion of normalcy is the myth that the accessibility to resources is fair-play for all. Take for instance, the Kashmiri students in the University who have difficulty downloading byte-sized PDFs due to the restricted Internet access, and one would understand that video lectures on Zoom, Hangouts, and reading on JSTOR are synonymous with a utopian fancy in many students’ homes.

This is not to say that professors and peers in colleges are entirely ignorant of the aforementioned limitations, but there is significant pressure upon students nonetheless to go about internal assessments and coursework, as if it is an extended vacation.

To be fretting over grades and submission deadlines is not a privilege available to many whose mental health gets threatened in abusive or patriarchal households. Especially for women in India, many of whom choose DU because of its affordability and residential facilities that are liberating as compared to conservative, controlling families, being forced to stay in an inevitable lockdown can be a severe trigger for anxiety and, in some cases, trauma as well. There are urban and rural households alike which put a gendered burden of housework and chores like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. upon the women in the family – a factor that is not only troubling in terms of its sexist and patriarchal strain, but also because it practically limits how much time women can devote to an education they fought to attain in DU.

In times like these when Instagram influencers and many others have taken the approach of selling the ideals of ‘productivity, evolution of self, finding yourself’ among other things, it is integral for teachers and administrators of an educational institution like DU to realise the exploitative and harmful burden an undeveloped, inaccessible system of ‘online teaching-learning’ puts on young minds. This needs to be considered before generalising and declaring that students can afford to be studying more, finishing course work properly, and working hard, from the apparent comfort of their homes.

In this last editorial for this paper, I thus urge the students, teachers, and administrators of this vividly diverse University to acknowledge unequal privileges, and be kinder.

Anushree Joshi

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Shutting down of educational institutions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated the need for teachers to shift their lectures to the web.

“XYZ is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting” sliding into my mail whenever my professors wish to take a lecture is a notification that never fails to abruptly remind me of how much the world has changed and that I have been under quarantine, along with the whole country, for the past three weeks, something which I tend to forget from time to time having become so accustomed to it already, though in my defence, there is nothing very memorable about the quarantine or the “entity” that made it necessary, the coronavirus pandemic.

Infecting more than a million people across the world, and taking the lives of more than a hundred thousand, the coronavirus pandemic can be considered one of the most devastating and unfortunate events in human history. With lockdowns being announced, almost all corporate offices, private and public sector companies and educational institutions have been forced to pull down their shutters. 

Consequently, most official enterprises, be it meetings or seminars, have moved to online platforms, with teleconferencing applications like Skype and Zoom experiencing a swarm of new users. These new “migrants” also include university professors and school teachers, along with their students. 

While the idea of online teaching is not new, with many online educational platforms having been in existence for the past few years, the manner and the magnitude at which colleges and schools have unanimously adopted it recently is unprecedented. There are mainly two modes of transmission – sharing pre-recorded videos of the teacher with students or the teacher video-conferencing simultaneously with every student. The latter tends to get preferred over the former as it allows students to put forth their doubts there and then, along with the fact that the teacher can change the direction of teaching according to the prevailing line of thought going around his/her class.

Online teaching has its benefits. Since it allows the teacher and the student to be a part of the classroom from the comfort of their homes, it cuts the time and financial costs of house-to-school or house-to-college commute, as well as allowing sick students to attend their classes, which they otherwise wouldn’t have. “I was bedridden due to a minor surgery for a few days last week but I still didn’t miss any teaching as all my classes were being held online”, said a University Of Delhi student, on the condition of anonymity.

Commuting to one’s college or school everyday and staying there for 5-6 hours undoubtedly causes fatigue which hinders one’s attention during offline lectures, something which doesn’t happen in the case of online ones. 

“Zoom goes from conferencing app to the pandemic’s social network”, reads the headline of an article by Drake Bennett in the Bloomberg Business Week. The application is one of the biggest gainers of the sudden surge in online lectures, with downloads experiencing a boom from a mere 10 million to a whopping 200 million across devices. Being easy to operate and handle, it has even been patronized by the older not-so-tech-savvy generation of university professors.

But the problems of online lectures also start with Zoom. It has come under immense scrutiny for its relatively lax security systems, especially the absence of end-to-end encryption, which makes it prey to possible data theft. Since public zoom meetings can be accessed by merely opening the link for it, there have been numerous cases where hackers and mischief-mongers have hijacked meetings and lectures armed with offensive slogans, inappropriate images, abusive texts and racial slurs. “Zoombombing”, as this act is commonly known as, has forced many companies like Google and SpaceX to ban the usage of the application in its offices. Schools in Singapore and Taiwan have followed suit.

In fact, the application has been accused of spying on and recording personal user data, as well as tinkering with the in-built software of computers. Brian Feldman, in an article for the New York Magazine rubbished these claims and claimed that the problems were “sloppy rather than malicious”, though he sharply criticized the application, writing “..a billion dollar company seems to be held together with a duct tape and string.” Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan apologized for the glitches and attributed them to the company not having been prepared for such an enormous boom in its user base while also assuring implementation of stronger security measures in the coming weeks.

Besides Zoom’s complications, the most prominent drawback of an online lecture is the shunting out of students without internet access or electronic device access, especially in India where a large chunk of students come from rural backgrounds or poor families. This goes against the principles of government institutions which were established to provide equal education to all. 

Additionally, in case of some components of subjects composed of a considerable amount of quantitative analysis or those containing figures and graphs, say Economics or Physics, it gets a tad difficult to comprehensively  expound the learning matter through mere audio explanation or by writing on a notebook. Though this problem can be solved by the use of slideshow presentations. Ethically, there also tends to a lack of seriousness in the case of an online class when compared to an offline one since there is an absence of a disciplined classroom atmosphere. “I often end up browsing through my phone or laptop during lectures, or sometimes even worse, I turn off my video and leave to do something else.”, said a student of Daulat Ram College, on the condition of anonymity.

Nevertheless, the world was not prepared for these recent unfortunate developments, and adult office-goers and college students alike, and the Zoom application, despite its complications, have done a commendable job in keeping the show running partially. And with doctors and nurses across the world volunteering for the treatment of infected patients, medical experts and scientists working day and night for a cure or a vaccine, governments introducing strict movement restrictions and responsible citizens complying to these restrictions, one can hope that by the end of this year, professors and their students shall return to their classrooms.



Featured Image CreditsAnukriti Mudgil for DU Beat

Araba Kongbam

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In the wake of the COVID-19 breakout, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), a student group- solicits the Ministry of HRD to make online learning a voluntary practice.

Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)- a student led group with many of the members comprising of Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (DUSOL), has urged in writing to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) to oppose the resort to online teaching amidst the shutting down of educational institutions, owing to the nation wide lockdown due to massive spread of the COVID-19.

While talking about the motive behind the said action, Harish Gautam, Delhi State Committee Member of the KYS told DU Beat that, “Online education is not a substitute for classroom teaching and it’s accessible only among those students who have the said resources. While a big majority not only in Delhi but across the country faces difficulties with regards to access of the online learning facility, it’s imperative that it’s not made into a mandatory practice, therefore classroom teaching should be conducted as soon as the lockdown is lifted and the online mode should be made voluntary.”

“One of the most important problems with online teaching is that the majority of the students do not have access to the internet. If in case the internet is available, there are the problems of bandwidth and speed,” said the KYS in a statement to highlight the crux of their resolution. 

The student group posits the disparity of access to technology across demographics as a noteworthy problem which relates to digital divide and inequality. The resources required for online classes are not spread evenly throughout the student class. While showing apprehension, Vinitha, a first year student at Kamala Nehru College who is from a small village in Thakurla of Pali district said, “I haven’t attended a single online lecture due to the constant irregularities of network operations in my village. I am completely on my own with the reading materials and lack of assertiveness about the further exam dates just adds on to my stress.”

The official press release issued by the KYS also hinted towards a relaxation in terms of extension of academic session to requite for the loss learning which happened. Harish Gautam in the press release said, “The extension of academic sessions and semester would not be a loss for any institution, since all of them would be conducting the entrance examinations for the next session at the same time,” 

To heed to the problems of students facing network issues and some teachers who don’t get a hang of technology enabled services, an inclusive idea of making online teaching a voluntary method is a concern which needs to be attended to.

Featured image credits: Facebook page of KYS

Umaima Khanam

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Guest Lecturers will be required to produce e-footprints of online classes conducted to receive salary payments.

Guest lecturers at Delhi University (DU) will be required to produce e-footprints of online classes in order to acquire payment.

Dr. Geeta Bhatt, Director of Non Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB) said, “There will be natural justice for all those teaching online and conducting classes by logging in. If you have taken classes online, produce certification for it. There are e-classroom links created and shared with the guest teachers. Google Classroom, Zoom will have e-footprints which will be taken into account”. She clarified that lectures shared on WhatsApp or PDFs mailed cannot be considered actual classes; one should have logged in to interact with the class for a 50-minute lecture.

However, guest teachers require a lot of bureaucratic procedures before the actual receipt of the money by the person intended. Therefore, the exercise of the above mentioned proposition is complex and tedious. Almost 2,000 guest lecturers work at the University’s NCWEB and School of Open Learning.

The complexity of this matter remains a relative issue as different colleges affiliated to the University of Delhi are treating the issue in their own ways.

“In Hindu (College), the word of the TIC (teacher-in-charge) is being counted. Many of the guest lecturers might not be this lucky”, said a faculty at the college on condition of anonymity.

A guest faculty at DU’s Miranda House who wished to remain anonymous said, “it is not clear whether the salaries will be based on . classes or consolidated overall… In Miranda House, we do not have a problem; in any case we upload our material weekly. But till we get the money, we don’t know what it will be based on.” 

Rajib Ray, President of Delhi University Teachers’ Association drafted a letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor (VC) on 6th April 2020, stating the delay in the payment of salaries to teachers working on Ad-Hoc basis. The letter also stated that employees must be considered “on duty”.

Concerns regarding the online procedures to be subjected to a sluggish rate have been out forth. The varsity notified the students regarding delay in examinations. Similar notifications regarding the online procedures are awaited.

Featured image credits: Saubhagya Saxena for DU Beat 

Priyanshi Banerjee

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While the countrywide lockdown has brought many people together working from the comfort of their homes like never before, University of Delhi’s (DU’s) teachers behind in this because the University being unable to pay for online journals and portals.

While this might seem like a burning issue amidst the lockdown, it is rather the opposite. Allegedly, the University has failed to pay for many international journals of law, science, humanities, and economics since 2016. While these problems are generally not a big problem when colleges and libraries are functioning, they become a huge problem when both of them are not functioning, and online resources are the sources of learning and teaching.

While resources like SWAYAM are still available to the teachers and students, to maintain some routine with the syllabus and classes. According to many teachers, these are not sufficient and are not as good as National Library and Information Services Infrastructure for Scholarly Content which has peer-reviewed journals and e-books for university-level education or the ShodhShala.

Delhi University Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr. Yogesh Tyagi did not respond to calls and text messages from The Print inquiring about the unavailability of e-means. In conversation with The Print, Manoj Kumar, Assistant Professor at Satyawati College said, “The responsibility for the payment lies both with the College and the University, and both have shirked it.”

“Going online for teaching and learning as a part of the regular teaching process is fine, but once the entire system is shifted online, things become difficult,” said Rajesh Jha, a teacher at Deshbandhu College, in a conversation with The Print.

Retired DU Librarian D. V. Singh said, “I have been fighting for the availability of online resources ever since 2016 until my retirement in Mid-2019. The college was supposed to pay income to continue receiving access to international journals, but it could not be performed despite a variety of attempts,” while speaking to The Print.

Singh also informed that for the University to continue with the subscriptions they have previously enjoyed, they would need to pay a total sum of INR 5 crore annually. Amidst the 21-day lockdown, the teachers and the students both require these e-resources now more than ever to learn and teach, and for the research work for doctoral students as the University has instructed for all day-to-day activities to be continued via online mediums.


Image Credits: Careers 360


Akshat Arora

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Where to find a recluse when a physical world is at bay? Perhaps, the crevices of the books might provide a substantial answer to our skepticism and nervosity.

It was beyond human comprehension to imagine a state where the fast paced connectivity and communication in this universe, cosmopolitan encapsulation would be limited to the four walls of our homes. The global COVID-19 outbreak has certainly compelled the entire human race to rethink about its place and destination. While almost everything in this world is under a halt, to ensure the prevention of transmission of virus, governments all over the world have adopted lockdowns as a measure to tackle this pandemic. Markets, offices, public places everything has been shut down and so are the schools, universities, and institutions.

With the closure of many workplaces people have been asked to work from home and try to keep the chain in continuation; many educational institutions have also turned to online mode of teaching, with its effectiveness at such scale under the question radar, what needs to be reiterated here is that our studies and learning that must be identified as one of the most important things can be put in a better status than the quo.

In an unrestricted environment, studies can not only get more utilitarian but can even garner the interest and passion it deserves. When a major portion of our learning approaches tend to be towards the qualification of examination and other parameters, the actual purpose of understanding often gets killed to rote learning and mechanical trends as designed notes and selective study.

Without any doubt, our normal lives are intensely packed under the clock with tight schedules and deadlines, where a passionate study gets extremely difficult, but in a situation where we are struggling to keep ourselves busy- a completely dedicated study doesn’t seem like a bad option at all.

Utilize these times for in-depth study and subscribe to ideas and questions that matter the most, prepare notes and write papers, try a different way to do things, focus on areas where you are underperforming – not to perform better but introspect the fallacies and development of interest, read suggested texts refer to additional texts as well, learn all that you possibly can and put the quarantine to best use.

While many students are preparing for their entrances, one can utilize this to cover the most of it. Srajit Kumar, a final year history student of Jamia Millia Islamia feels that, “this is the best time to study. Being in the last year of graduation, a lot of people like myself are facing an uncertain future in every sense of the word. So, this is the best time to buckle up and study as much as we can. There are no external distractions, the climate is suitable, and this is the best time to strategize and get to the books.” Kumar even feels that because of the uncertainty of the world around us and the scramble for finding our own selves, it’s very essential that we find some semblance of sense in these crazy times and studying is just a part of a routine, which is the first principle of survivalism.

Although, there are various ways to achieve this mode of studying one can opt for techniques like – Pomodoro Studying, where one can engage in other activities at fixed intervals to continue the study for a long time those who aim to memorise multiple things can resort to ways like Spaced Repetiton as well, the idea is to use flash cards to highlight the key points and could be a good option for medical and history students.

Education has no boundaries and caters to an open methodology but in these constricted circumstances, studying can certainly provide us the necessary. So, pick your books, sit on your desks and fall in love with learning.


Feature Image Credits: Mayank Gulati for DU Beat

Faizan Salik

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The viability and details of online classes in Delhi University (DU) after a massive worldwide educational disruption due to COVID-19 pandemic, with insights into the pedagogues employed by professors in India and abroad.

As colleges across the world pivot online on very short notice, there are a host of complications — from laptops and Internet access to mental health and financial needs. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) monitoring, over 130 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting over 80% of the world’s student population. Several other countries have implemented localized school closures and, should these closures become nationwide, millions of additional learners will experience education disruption.

A combination of methods is being used by teachers of Delhi University to ensure that syllabus completion is done on time. Satviki, a student at Miranda House said that the professors are conducting classes using Zoom, as well as sending voice notes and PDFs on WhatsApp to students. Various readings and test syllabi are being continuously uploaded for the students to access. At Kamala Nehru College, an official notice has been released by the administration instructing teachers to mail e-content to the official college email id, from where it will be retrieved by the College’s computer staff and uploaded to www.knc.edu.in for students every day. Meanwhile, Priya, a History student at Miranda House raised the issue of the internet connection being a hindrance for students to access online classes. Students residing in places devoid of high-speed internet have trouble using apps like Zoom and Skype, an issue especially faced by students of Kashmir. Attendance, however, is accounted for in every online lecture- further raising the question of access.

While the practices described are commonplace for most universities in India and abroad; they do differ in terms of consistency of output, quality of learning and pedagogues being employed. Aarnav Gupta, a student of the City University of Hong Kong talks about the importance and technical achievement of the university in implementing the transition to online classes so well, “Few professors were impressed by the resultant learning outcomes of online classes and felt it was better than offline ones since students paid more attention in the former one. Also, universities across Hong Kong have subscribed to their students and teachers to the Zoom app, which serves as a great unifier when it comes to learning.”

Even though the focus can sometimes be on technology, tools, and logistics, Sean Michael Morris, from the University of Colorado, Denver, says that what is required from professors at this time is compassion. “The real skill required right now is sort of critical compassion, if you will the ability to look at the situation as it is. Figure out what’s going on, how you can operate within that, and how you can be compassionate in that as well.”


Featured Image Credits: LA Johnson for NPR

Paridhi Puri

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