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Covid-19: Learning Uninterrupted
Covid-19

Learning Uninterrupted

Schools and colleges around the world may be closed, but that doesn't mean education needs to come to a standstill. TCS iON is empowering educational institutions to stay connected with their students

July 2020     |     1143 words     |     4-minute read

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As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, one of the most impacted groups turned out to be the world’s student population. As per the UNESCO, the closure of schools and colleges confined 1.2 billion students across the globe and 320 million students across India to their homes.

At the forefront of addressing this disruption in India was TCS iON, which offered free access to the TCS iON Digital Glass Room for one year, up to March 2021. It was also made available for free internationally.

The platform empowers educators to engage with students in real time by sharing lessons, videos, worksheets, assignments and assessments, using interactive methods like polls, debates, quiz, surveys, etc. It also provides an embedded live classroom, which simulates live classroom teaching. While teachers have a wide set of tools to innovate and achieve the best learning outcome, principals or deans as well as parents have a transparent view of what’s happening in the virtual classroom to ensure better governance.

“These are unprecedented times,” says Venguswamy Ramaswamy, global head, TCS iON. “With schools and colleges shut down across the country, we wanted to empower these institutions and help them switch to a virtual mode, so students’ learning journeys can continue uninterrupted on our platform.”

By the end of May 2020, over 2,300 educational institutions (schools, colleges and training institutes) in India, reaching 5.67 lakh learners, had joined the TCS iON Digital Glass Room. It was also being used by institutes in countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Columbia, Brazil, and the United States.

A transformation

The sharp minds at TCS iON view the pandemic as a huge opportunity for India to transform learning and education. The country, the company points out, is set to see a 50 percent increase in the number of students in the next 15 years; by 2030, it will have the largest working-age population in the world. “Online education is the optimum solution to match this surge and make the country skill-ready,” they say.

Mr Ramaswamy notes, “Our objective is not only to augment the education institutions to navigate through the current challenges effectively but also to support their transition into a digital era where teaching and learning know no physical boundaries.”

New platforms

“True to its effort to ensure learning continues,” he adds, “TCS iON also came up with some interesting innovations at speed.”

One such innovation is the TCS iON Remote Internships, which brings location-free internships that can be done by students on any device. While the idea of aggregating internships under the TCS iON platform had been on the cards, the pandemic altered the strategy and speeded up the process.

“Internships provide an important leap in the students’ career to gain practical exposure,” the company says. “The pandemic has cleared some of the traditional notions, and companies are now even considering some percentage of their workforce to work from home as a permanent business model. It is very important for students, academic institutions and corporates to adapt to the new normal. TCS iON will be at the forefront to drive this transformation.”

From the time they realised that digital internships were the way to go, TCS iON took about a couple of months to bring the product into the market. They worked even quicker — a mere three weeks — to develop TCS iON CoronaWarriors, a free online self-certification course that aims to prepare frontline health workers with prevention and control measures. The course was designed and curated by medical experts of TCS’ Lifesciences Unit with inputs from experts at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

The six-hour, self-paced, self-certification programme was designed for paramedical and professional healthcare workers, but is also of use to volunteers, Covid-19 support groups and public support teams.

Post lockdown

TCS has also taken the lead on adapting its phygital platforms to the post-lockdown world. It announced a new standard operating procedure, called Social Distanced Assessments to conduct secure, proctored in-centre assessments for recruitment and academic admissions without compromising on the safety of the candidates and proctoring staff. The norms were designed based on TCS’ vast experience in conducting large scale incentre exams along with inputs from health experts from the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

“The pandemic has caused significant disruptions to the examination schedules. A large number of students seeking admission for higher education and youth seeking jobs are waiting for the exam process to be restarted,” the company said. “In-centre exams are critical as many students do not have access to reliable computing devices or adequate bandwidth to take online exams.”

Additionally, TCS iON will be helping India’s Labour Ministry to offer free career counselling services on the National Career Service platform, which hosts around 10 million active job seekers and about 54,000 employers.

Lockdown innovations

TCS iON Career Edge

A 15-day self-paced certification programme, offered on TCS iON Digital Learning Hub platform, to sharpen the career skills of college-going students and professionals during the lockdown. It went live on April 1 and was made available free of cost around the globe. By June 5, 7.6 lakh+ youngsters had already subscribed to it.

TCS iON CorNERD

A game that helps children understand the Covid-19 pandemic in a fun way and exhibit appropriate behaviour. The game, offered free of cost, was built by leveraging TCS iON GameLab framework and hosted on TCS iON Digital Learning hub platform.

TCS iON Remote Assessments

TCS iON enables universities and exam boards to conduct secure, free and fair examinations at scale, in a remote model. It also provides the ability to create question papers — supporting more than 50 question types — and maintain them in an encrypted form till they are shared with students just-intime for the exam.

It enables controls at three levels, based on the institution’s requirements. At the basic level, it locks down the candidate’s device, enabling it to only capture exam responses. At the second level, it leverages the device camera and sends a video stream that is analysed using artificial intelligence and machine learning frameworks to detect malpractice attempts and alert invigilators. The third level also enables invigilators to proctor candidates in real-time, from anywhere. The platform seamlessly integrates with TCS iON Remote Marking, allowing assessors to mark candidate responses from home. More than 28 million candidates have already been assessed through this product.

Free to learn

  • goIT: TCS extended its goIT programme — aimed at inspiring students across the United States and Canada to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields — by launching goIT@Home and goIT Online to benefit children.
  • Tata ClassEdge: The digital education platform from Tata Industries made free content available to 1,500+ teachers and 5 lakh students in India. Tata Communications enabled this initiative, to support schools during the lockdown, by deploying additional hosting and network infrastructure for three months.

—Monali Sarkar


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