Value add Education

Digital impetus to learners

Freepik   | Photo Credit: Freepik

Pandemics like the ongoing COVID-19 change the way people across the world live. We are working from home, interacting with each other in virtual environments and accessing required reading material on the web. Several publishing houses, education boards and universities have opened their content on electronic media for all.

With physical proximity becoming potentially fatal, virtual environments are the norm. This could be an opportunity to leverage the power of online education in terms of its asynchrony, availability, accessibility and versatility and also to overcome the glaring weaknesses of our existing education system.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the core enabler of online education, and its intangibility provides unfathomable opportunities for its evolution. However, the tangible aspect of ICT is expensive and requires huge investments. While governments and universities are planning and installing the technology resources, there is an urgent need to strengthen the soft aspects of online education to achieve the desired learning experience. These include the choice of content, mode of delivery, pedagogical considerations, solo or collaborative endeavours, assessment and other factors that may seem to be trivial but make a big difference to the process of learning. For example, providing an opportunity to raise an opposing view in a classroom discussion anonymously (but visible to the facilitator) can help boost the courage of a hesitant/scared learner.

Opportunities aplenty

A comprehensive online education ensures the timely availability of the right content to the learner. In this era, content is everywhere and the prowess of an educator is manifested through the quality of content that includes dependability, relevance and novelty. The power of the Internet can be exploited well by mashing up finely selected content in their relevant forms (printed, audio, visual) for making learning meaningful. This not only needs a detailed planning by the facilitator, but a robust understanding of the process of learning and the tools/mechanisms that facilitate it. In India, educators usually depend on textbooks and related reading material to impart knowledge on a subject.

Online education has opened a huge space to integrate legacy content with stories, games, real-time problems from the field, and so on. However, this needs training on the effectiveness of different types of content and the interfaces that make the integration of content seamless. We need a plethora of online courses for our educators not only for creation of content, but also on the way content and its integration can lead to effective learning. Similarly, facilitators need to learn about other components of online education such as setting directions on discussion boards, using assignment as a tool for learning, channelising the evolution of collaborative creation of knowledge through wikis, and so on.

India now has an opportunity to enhance the quality of education by building the capability of its educators and increase its ICT infrastructure due to the pandemic.

The writer is Director, Symbiosis Centre for Research and Innovation

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 9:01:39 PM |

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