The challenges in delivering education which came along with the pandemic has been availability, accessibility and adaptability of technology. Internet connectivity or the lack of it, which has been the only medium in online classrooms primarily affected the delivery and accessibility of education along with other challenges like pedagogy, a proper device to attend virtual classrooms and learning beyond books.
A “Knowledge Management Virtual Meet on New Age Education: Adapting and Delivering quality education despite the challenges” was organised by ASSOCHAM on Friday, 13th August 2021. Mr. Bharat Jaiswal, Regional Director at ASSOCHAM, welcomed Dr. Jitendra K. Das and other eminent panelists. He set the tone of the deliberation by stating how the education system has to adopt the digital revolution which is the need of the hour.
Speaking about technologies which have become a critical component for new age education, Dr. Jitendra K. Das, Director at FORE School of Management, Delhi, who was earlier associated with IIM Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kozhikode and was the founder Dean, Noida Campus of IIM Lucknow, said that institutes need to adopt smarter capabilities towards enabling effective delivery of education in the era of virtual classrooms and ensure inclusivity on a larger scale where students are deprived of learning. “Online or offline learning has to continue,”he said.
Having a tech-ecosystem in place continues to be a crying need. Use of the powerful but commonplace technologies that exist outside brick and mortar, chalk and duster classrooms, augmenting teaching and making learning accessible to students at a larger societal level is an absolute must. “We are very sensitive when it comes to delivering education to our students. Since we are in higher education, the methodology is very different from the level of education imparted in K-12 schools”, he said.
Highlighting the plight of children in primary schools Dr. Das indicated the long hours of screen time, where kids are made to sit online for 4-6 hours daily and parents are also kept engaged to assist the kids. Incidentally, the curriculum, pedagogy and assessments were embedded in the new teaching methodology by FORE School quickly enough to ensure that students are not impacted by the virtual classroom methodology.
Mr. Manu Seth, CEO, Speaking Mindz., threw the discussion open for panelists asking “What is the literal meaning of New Age Education? Is the fundamentals of education changing or is the education system adapting to the changing times?”
Citing “New Age Education” and technology in today’s age, he said, technology has to be an enabler not a deterrent. “It should be a practical blend where kids should be leveraging the utility. Kids are always hooked into devices today which is a matter of concern”, he said.
Ms. Vibha Singh, Director at Mere Nanhe Kadam, spoke about the ‘screen time’ and burden of homework on kids in primary school, and suggested that homework should not be assigned to kids in the age group of 4-6 years. “Learning is meant to be fun. Teachers should be trained to make the classes interactive, engaging and children should be enjoying, which is dependent upon the way teaching is delivered”, she said.
Adding to the training needs for teachers in online mode, Dr. Jitendra Das said, “The role of ‘eye contact’ between a teacher and student assists teachers to understand the student better. Whereas, in a virtual classroom this has been a challenge teachers are grappling with”. Citing the problem of remote proctoring during online examinations, Dr. Das said, “Unlike the Gurukul education format where students were not graded based on marks or scores, the modern day education system is based on marks. With help from technology, the system for evaluation has to undergo a shift and ensure a fair practice for the assessments”.
Talking about AI bots in the era of virtual learning Mr. Mukesh Sinha, Co-Founder Gravitas AI, shared how new admissions are taking place today with virtual tours and AI bots as a guide to help students and parents on selecting an institute. “With the availability of technology today, students are no longer restricted to pursue a particular course or programme. Sitting at a remote location students can enhance their skills in other areas by enrolling for various courses as per their interest. Quality education is not limited to metro cities today, as students from rural or urban areas have access to education anywhere without having to migrate from one location to another,” he said.
“Experiential learning has to happen. Students should be able to co-relate while learning”, said Ms. Jyoti Tiwari, CEO Ingenious Minds. Referring to kids sticking to gadgets she said, kids learn from the environment, hence it is the duty of adults at home to bring in a behavioural change while using technology which can be inculcated. “Value system in a kid develops by the age of 5 years and adults at home should pave the way for kids to learn”, she said.
Ms. Archana Garg, International Partner WBAF, addressed how technology had made it possible for students at remote locations to access education. Especially, from the perspective of empowerment of women, who today have a broader access to quality education, which has acted as a major catalyst for empowerment, overcoming inequality and sustained economic growth.