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Innovative M-learning course on Empathetic Parenting – Brief Report

Backdrop

Partnership between parents and teachers is the bed rock of healthy development of pre-school children. This partnership must be based on some basic minimum common understanding of growth and development of children in the age group 3 to 5 years. Children in this age group in 2017 will enter the workforce and adulthood in 2037-40. World will be totally different. Old ways of growing up can be disastrous for today’s children as tomorrow’s adults. Mastery of today’s knowledge would be of little consequence then. They will need skill to learn and critical and creative thinking. In the Pre-school years, teacher and parents must collectively engage in developing school (read as learning) readiness, rather than mastery of contents among children. Teachers are somewhat trained in teacher training programmes, but not the parents. In keeping with its mission of research based innovations for quality improvement in education, ETMA decided to design a programme of training for parents of preschool children. ETMA designed a Blended Learning Programme for Parents blending M-Learning with Face to face workshop and online interaction.

Conceptualization

The course was conceptualized and designed by a team of experts comprising Dr. Kailash Khanna (Former HOD, Education, Lady Irwin College), Prof. Madhu Parhar (IGNOU), Dr. Subhash Chander (HOD, Education) and Dr. Shweta Singh (then Assistant Professor Lady Irwin College) led by Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay (Former Professor at NIEPA). The programme was designed after research in early childhood education, child development etc. Experts from the fields of child psychology, pediatrics, and education were consulted for validation of the contents.

Instructional Design

The instructional design comprised delivery of short messages to participants through phone. Between sms and WhatsApp, ETMA chose WhatsApp for its interactive facility and previous experience of using this media. The delivery of messages was supported by F2F workshops – one for each module; enrichment with digital contents, references to online digital contents, case studies, and online interaction and participant feedback on WhatsApp. Interaction also included personal counseling of parents with respect to their children. There were cases where parents consulted ETMA experts on individual basis.

Course Contents

The course comprised six modules, namely physical development, health and hygiene, intellectual development, language development, social and emotional development, and moral and values development. Each module contained 10 lessons – short messages of 200 to 250 words only to enhance readability for the working parents. Complete content generation was done by Dr. Subhash Chander and Dr. Shweta Singh in consultation of research literature and expert in pediatric, child development and education.

Programme Delivery

Messages were delivered one at a time and not more than one per day to facilitate ease of reading. Participant interaction in terms of comments, questions and emojis started almost immediately after they received and read the messages. Resource persons from ETMA responded to their questions and queries.

The programme was designed to provide two-hour workshop on each module. For convenience of the participating working parents, half day workshops were organized after every two modules from 09.30 to 13.30 on Sundays. The workshops were held on 21st May (Physical Development and Health and Hygiene), 9th July (Intellectual Development and Language Development) and 30 July (Social and Emotional Development, and Moral and Values Development).

Each workshop comprised a set of events, namely

  1. Group Learning – 5 member parents group mentored by one of the mentors discuss a given theme in the form of lead questions, problems, cases, etc. This is followed by presentation and critiquing of group reports;
  2. Sharing And Analyses of individual cases,
  3. Faculty Presentation Followed By Q&A, and
  4. Guest lectures.

Each workshop came to close with discussion between the experts and the parents in which they identified the issues and problems and set behavioural norms of parents and road map for the healthy living of their children.

Programme Evaluation and Feedback

Each workshop was evaluated asking participants to write freewheeling comments. Entire programme was evaluated on the last day on a structured format that included participant satisfaction, learning outcome and behaviour modification following Result Based Management Approach developed by COL.

Participants appreciated contents of the messages for their relevance and enlightenment factor. Participants also appreciated online inputs other than messages like videos, counseling texts, etc.

Substantive and spontaneous comments were on workshop days as they found highly interactive sessions an opportunity for expressing their concerns and apprehensions about their children. They literally expressed their gratitude for the guidance they received from ETMA resource persons. Spontaneous online appreciative feedback of the participants following the workshops was more natural and most encouraging for the faculty.

Resource Persons

Dr. Subhash Chander directed all the three workshops complemented by professional mentors, namely Dr. Sheela Rajeshwari, Ms. Chetna Arora, and Ms. Geetika Sharma (all Assistant Professors, Lady Irwin College) and Dr. Priyanka Varsheny (Assistant Professor, Gargi College). Dr. Ekta Sharma (Principal, Little Pearl School) conducted the workshop on Language Development supported by the Programme Director and the Mentors. These workshops sessions were further enriched with addresses by distinguished professionals. For example, first workshop had Dr. Shubham Garg, Senior Pediatrician, Sehgal Neo Hospital, and Prof. Madhu Parhar; second workshop had Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay and third workshop had Prof. Rajesh Acharya Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon and Vice-Chairman, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

Organization

The programme was organized at Salwan Public School, Old Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi. 39 parents registered for the course. A WhatsApp group comprising parents, resource persons and Mrs. Kiran Kapoor (Headmistress, Montessori Section) and Ms. Sunanda was created. ETMA provided copyrighted lessons to Salwan Public School for further forwarding to parents. Ms. Sunanda dispatched each message to all the participants as per schedule.

Valediction

Valedictory function organized on the last workshop day, 30 July, was graced by Chairman of Salwan Education Trust, Sri Sushil Salwan, Supreme Court Advocate. He delivered the valedictory address preceded by a brief report by Dr. Subhash Chander, feedback comments by few participants. Prof. Madhu Parhar also made brief statement. Dr. Indu Khetarpal, Principal of the host school chaired the session; on this occasion, she addressed the participants. Prof. Mukhopadhyay also made brief statement on the occasion drawing attention of the parents to the Behaviorist and Constructivist Schools of thoughts expressing his clear preference for constructivist practices in parenting.

Sample spontaneous feedback on WhatsApp

Thanku so much ETMA group for such a wonderful workshop today. I as a Parent learnt so many things which I was not focusing earlier in my child language development. Today I can analyse myself where I was wrong and now I can correct myself. Your experts are very good. They are excellent in their knowledge.

- ESHA

The workshop also shows us the mirror that v have more expectations from our kids than V have from ourselves as to how to behave, what to expect etc.

- MANSI KHANDELWAL

The workshop is very enriching.. it help us evolve n gain a different perspective apart from wat we routinely do. thank u to everyone who is a part of ETMA n Mukhopadhyay sir .

- NEHA GULATI

Thank you all the experts and team members of ETMA… Today’s workshop is really very interesting and enriching. I got answers to my queries.. which is really satisfying and helpful. Definitely today’s workshop would guide me throughout my life to be a better parent.

- AISHWARYA RAJ MANI PATHAK

I would like to thank team ETMA n specially Mukhopadhyay Sir. I m really enjoying n learning a lot through these workshops. N m really happy to be a part of these new session of learnings after finishing our studies. Looking forward for many classes like these.

- GUNJAN AJWANI

I would like to thank Mukhopadhyay Sir and the ETMA team for the workshops where we as parents have come to know soo much about the different aspects of child development and also what good parenting is all about…

- MINAL DIWAN PABBI

Missed the session after the break…. It was great…learnt so much…Mukhopadhyay sir you are most welcome always…he (Vinnie’s son) liked you so much… Was talking about you.

- VINNIE SEHRAWAT

Thank u etma nd salwan i really feel happy to b part of such programme where v will learn alooot to b a gud parentv always expect frm our kids through these workshops v lear n dat v as a parents also hve to work thank u all once again

- SHAZIA

Would like to specially thank Dr Ekta, Dr Mukhopadhayay along with entire ETMA team for such an enriching experience

- ASHAGENESIS