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The sprawling garden campus of Sona College of Technology sprang back to life today as students returned to the college, following the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to re-open all educational institutions in the state from February 8, 2021.

It may be recalled that the government had ordered all schools and colleges to be closed in mid-March last year, in a bid to contain the COVID–19 pandemic.

The corridors and classrooms wore a festive look today as it was filled with the chatter of students.  The faces of teachers looked bright as they reconnected with students physically and resumed doing what they love doing the most — being with students and teaching them.

Professor Dr. M. Renuga, Head of the Department, Humanities and Languages, said teachers and students were excited to meet each other after 10 long months. She said the lockdown was a very rare event and that such an event was not likely to happen in a century.

“We espected the situation to prolong. What makes us happy is that normalcy has returned sooner than we expected,” she said. Almost all classes have recorded full attendance and the routine teaching-learning activity has resumed in full swing on day one said the teachers.

J.Sethumadhavan, a third-year student of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) said he had been in touch with friends and teachers online during the lockdown but to reconnect in person after 10 months was quite a unique experience.

P Vignesh, a third year student of Mechatronics said, “Online learning was a new experience after 14 years of classroom learning.” 

Students vividly recollected how they coped with the unprecedented online mode of learning and how they coped with the virtual campus life without physical contact with pals and teachers.

Thanks to Sona College management’s foresight, digital learning infrastructure had been put in place five years back, making the transition from physical to online learning a smooth affair. The college used several digital platforms to engage the students during the lockdown. Learning management systems (LMS)  Blackboard and Moodle were used  for learning, assessments, and for posting self-learning materials.

Diverse platforms such as  Canvas, Parlay, Flubaroo, Gadget making (for Stylers)  Gnomio, Gliffy, Live board, Hot potatoes, Microsoft team notebook, A-Z recorder, ShareX, Quizziz, Kahoot, Floop, Skype, Bandicam, Screen castify, Active presenter, Camstudio and Camtasia 2018  were used by the teachers to enhance the teaching-learning process and thereby actively engage the students. 

Various online quiz and poster competitions related to their curriculum were organized to encourage the students to be active even during the lockdown. Practical sessions were held using virtual lab which helped the students to understand the experiments better. Continuous assessments were done using the online proctored platform called  HIREMEE.  Two semester-end examinations were also conducted through the same platform. For the first time, students took up the exams online without attending physical classes.

Sona’s achievement trajectory never lowered even during these difficult times. The students were encouraged to participate in many national level competitions and win laurels. The college won the  AICTE-USVA Award 2020 as a testimony of its resilience.

Following the government’s unlocking guidelines strictly, the students were allowed to enter the college only with face masks. Body temperature was checked and sanitisers were applied to the hands of students at the security posts before letting them into the classroom zone.

This was the new normal on the first day and students seemed to get back to the academic groove with ease after months of digital learning.