COVID-19 has changed the way knowledge is imparted and disseminated and has given rise to new-age learning platforms online. The pandemic has made the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) an integral part of life. We can retain virtues of the VLE (access, availability, and affordability) in a post-pandemic world, and envision a hybrid model in which learners have a knowledge repository that they can access any time and anywhere, while teachers continue to facilitate inquiry and dialogue in the physical classroom setting. A non-linear approach to teaching and learning will likely see an explosive growth of new constructs and mental models.
Imagine an education system where students can share ideas on cross-functional domains in a virtual classroom; instructors use breakout rooms to discuss and deliberate on case studies; students from remote corners are able to access sessions with a university situated in a geographical opposite — all of this, bearing in mind quality of content, seamless learner-instructor engagement, and metrics to measure learning outcomes and its applicability to real-time situations.
A robust education system
A non-linear shift will emphasise choice-based learning; development of specialised skills; enhanced emphasis on languages; and most importantly, a cross-cultural education that will make the talent pool in demand globally. Technology and various education-based applications will play a critical role in making hybrid modes of learning penetrate across geographies, not just enhancing literacy, but also enabling new India to transform through access to education and increased affordability through economies of scale. This will help instil values of lifelong learning in aspirants and develop the agility to embrace change and offer a competitive advantage to learners and the nation.
While the pandemic seems unrelenting, humanity is adjusting to the new normal, which has given rise to technological innovation and integration, radical shifts in employment policies and an innate shift to value life and its offerings more than we did before this crisis. This has also paved the way for several new opportunities that must be used proactively to transform individuals, groups, and societies at large. India has a unique strength in its youth, who constitute the largest segment of the population. Through effective new-age learning practices and greater access to learning anywhere-anytime, we must focus on creating a generation that has developed a scientific temper and has imbibed the qualities of inclusion and diversity.
The writer is Pro-Chancellor, Alliance University