With a combination of e-learning and physical lessons, called blended learning, on the rise in the ‘new normal’, heavily investing in building teachers’ capacity and training them to thrive as the pivot of online learning infrastructure is the belief Alliance Française de Delhi (AFD) swears by.
Prioritizing safety and well-being of all those on their campuses pan-India, the Indo-French educational centre shifted from offline to online teaching in March 2020. With five months of indubitably successful e-classes for over 30,000 learners behind us, the centre’s French teachers were upskilled and trained by its academic director, who has experience with the CNED National Center for Distance Learning in France.
Finding it very important for a teacher to update her/his skills, especially with online teaching, now, AFD integrates comprehensive teachers’ training in its DNA. From July this year, AFD makes available school teachers workshops, at the end of each month, on specific topics. The teachers’ trainers share their experience and new trend methodology.
AFD is also well-known to guide French teachers, thanks to its initial training tradition in partnership with French Universities. In order for India’s French teachers to upskill their level of French, Institut Français in India (IFI) also gives special scholarships to school teachers, with the final goal to take and pass the internationally-recognised DELF exams, issued by the French Ministry of Education.
“Teaching strategies and teachers have always been pivot of learning, and it will not change, at least shortly. Learning outcomes remain the same and many teaching styles are transferred from offline to online classes. One new element will be a self-learning trend: a mix between face to face teaching and e-learning exercises. This combination, called blended learning, gives more liberty for learners to study whenever and wherever they want: following our motto ‘anywhere anytime’,” said Guillaume Grangeon, Academic Director, Alliance Française de Delhi.
The centre believes that for blended learning to work well, teachers need to focus on “flipped classroom” pedagogy. In a flipped classroom, learners will complete online exercises, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home while engaging in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of a mentor. Teachers become mentors and students become learners.
To cope with this new pedagogy people need to be comfortable to learn by themselves through a platform. It is perfectly adapted to professionals and adults who are highly motivated to learn and know how to work alone, in autonomy.
Prabhjot Singh Khurana, a French teacher at Alliance Française de Delhi notes: “In unprecedented times like these, teachers and parents alike are putting their best foot forward to uphold the value of education as we know it. Discussions during video sessions, interactive online games, screen sharing, tests conducted through customised portals and homework submission platforms are some of the many tools being employed in favour of a seamless learning experience. “Some challenges do present themselves along the way: connection problems and lack of gestural communication being a few amongst them. But while teachers adapt and evolve their methodology to the online world, parents continue to be supportive to help pull out all stops.”
Commenting on the road ahead, AFD says: “For now, we do not know when offices will reopen and when students will be able to come back to classrooms. But we know one thing for sure, ‘back to school’ will not be the same. We will progressively welcome our learners in the premises in order to assure safety and good teaching health. On the other hand, online teaching will remain accessible for all, especially for the ones who live far away from our physical centers.”
In New Delhi, the centre has opened the admission process for the autumn session, and compared to the summer session, new beginners are more willing to come and implicitly accept this new learning medium. To encourage learning, AFD will give a 15% discount to every learner.