The arrival of the novel coronavirus in India shut down educational institutes across the country. On March 16, we at Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUASTK) were informed that the varsity will remain closed for one month. Immediately we started worrying of what will happen to our semester, and to our degrees. A few days after the closure of our university, I received a message on WhatAapp that I had been added in a group named ‘Bloom’. When I opened it, I saw that the group had been created by one of my teachers, Dr Aasif Ali, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK. Within a few minutes all students and faculty members joined the group. The purpose of the group was to bring students and teachers on one platform and keep them updated about future events. The process of e-learning started from here.
After a few days, course instructors started online classes. Groups were created by each course instructor for their course. Students were informed to join Google Classroom. Links for the same were shared on WhatsApp group of the faculty. Study material was uploaded by course instructors from time to time. Online lectures were delivered by teachers on various platforms like Zoom and Skype. Assignments were given to students and they were asked to deliver PPTs through online mode. An atmosphere of learning was created under the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Vice Chancellor SKUASTK and Dean SKUAST. Students’ counseling was also done from time to time. Any confusion among students was cleared on priority basis. A student-friendly atmosphere was developed. Students were provided quality study material on different subjects from time to time.
After completion of syllabus, exams were taken as per the internal assessment scheme of SKUASTK. Two quizzes of 5 marks each were conducted. Ten marks each were assigned to midterm and practical exams. Exams were taken with the help of Google Forms and through Google classrooms. Marks were awarded for assignments and presentations. Students were asked to deliver their PPTs online and viva-voce for practicals was conducted on Zoom. In a nutshell, each and everything related to exams was conducted in a disciplined manner. Teachers worked hard and their role in conducting the exams was commendable.
Career counseling and placement centre, Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK, headed by Dr KN Qaisar, Professor and Head of Division of Silviculture and Agroforestry, conducted several mock tests for students. The aim of such tests was to keep the students on track and keep them ready for upcoming entrance examinations. Keeping in view the upcoming entrance examination for Masters admissions and ICAR JRF exams, several mock tests were conducted for students. On May 4, an online quiz was conducted in which 70 undergraduate students from the faculties of Forestry, Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture, and Horticulture participated. Several other mock tests were conducted from time to time. Mock tests were conducted through Google Forms. Special mock tests of Tree Improvement subject were conducted by Dr Anup Raj, Professor, Forest Biology and Tree Improvement, Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK. In order to boost the morale of students, several prizes were announced for top five position holders.
WEBINARS AND WORKSHOPS
The Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK conducted different webinars and workshops for the students. On 27 May, career counseling and placement centre, FOF SKUASTK, organised a webinar on strategy for competitive exams in Forestry for UG, PG and PhD students of the faculty. A motivational lecture was delivered by Dr Sheeraz Saleem Bhat (ARS). Different strategies for qualifying competitive exams were shared with the students. On July 15, a series of online workshops on leadership principles and progressive professionalism was begun. The workshops were organised by Dr Akhlaq Amin Wani, Associate Professor, NRM, Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK. The workshops were part of NAHEP programmes. The workshop was conducted in three separate sessions. The first session, titled ‘Overcome Fears through Leadership and Team Spirit’, was conducted on 15 July, the second session, ‘Stay Strong with your Personal Values and Principles’, on 21 July, and the final session, ‘Re-focus, Re-strategize and Restore as a Progressive Professional’ on 25 July. The lectures were delivered by guest speaker Ms Majula Sularia Thakur, CEO, Transformers Value Creators and Director of Prasanchetas Foundation. The three sessions of the workshop aimed at exploring the abilities within professionals and students and to help them cope with stressful times. More than 180 students from different institutions across India participated in the workshop. E-certificates were given to all students who attended the workshop. The efforts of the speaker and the organisers were highly appreciated by the students.
Despite the hardships that this part of the world faces, be it frequent closure of institutions, internet restricted to 2G speed, or something else, Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK has done a wonderful job in this time of a deadly pandemic. From online classes to webinars, our teachers have worked hard. Thanks to all teachers for their personal interest they have taken in the welfare of students.
The writer is a PhD scholar at Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK. [email protected]