Elets Exclusive | Educators call to adopt blended learning

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Over 91 per cent of the world’s student population has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and higher educational institutions have been shut down in several countries affected by Covid-19 to curb the spread of the infection. More than 157 crore students across 191 countries are affected due to the COVID epidemic.

The Coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented halt in the education sector. The government of India has imposed a lockdown in the country till May 3, 2020 for the safety of general public. If the educational institutes are further closed down, then it will have a direct impact on the remaining board exams of different states. They will be further delayed, which will again impact the ongoing academic session.

Elets Technomedia and digitalLEARNING Magazine organized a webinar on “COVID 19: Paradigm shift in education sector and role of Technology for continued learning” with eminent speakers from the education sector. All the speakers presented their views over the topic.

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Speaking over the issue Dr Sayalee Gankar, Vice-Chancellor, DY Patil University said “The Covid-19 has created a great impact on higher education. The challenge was to complete the courses and to engage students. Not only that, but faculty preparation was also a challenge. Faculties and students used technology wisely. The infrastructure of digital education is very poor and can create a hindrance in adopting online education.”

She also said dealing with uncertainly is the main challenge in this issue. No one knows when will the university will open and things will get normal, she added.

Dr Gankar also said internships and placement will be a major challenge for universities. With the lockdown the placement season is over but honoring the offers will be also a challenge for firms.

She also said blended education is need of the hour and content development is also important for facilities.

Not only virtual classes, but assessment of students are also a huge issue for universities as every subject exam cannot be taken online.

She also emphasized on Trans-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary methods for universities.

Dr. M. N. Patel, Provost, Parul University, said “The COVID-19 has created a crisis in global learning. Online teaching is the only option of the hour. We have conducted exams through the online system. But the assessment remains a challenge for all. There is uncertainty and need to find alternatives.”

He also said the Covid-19 has accelerated the pace to adopt the technology in education. A lot of e-content is available and students must opt for 20 pc digital learning, he added.

The e-learning can be an option but cannot replace physical education. The attendance in the virtual classroom has increased but we still don’t know the effectiveness of the classes, he added.

He said conducting exams will be a huge challenge for all the universities.

Raghav Gupta, Managing Director – India & APAC, Coursera said “Close to 3.7 million students are sitting home due to Covid-19. The impact of Corona is huge and long-lasting on the sector. Many institutions are going for digital classes to ensure studies for their students. Technology has been changed a lot in the last few years. We need to change the mid-set of faculties, as technology is not a threat to them.”

He also said Technology can be used as a resource in learning and can open new opportunities in the education sector.

He also said Coursera is the leading online learning platform for higher education, where over 56 million learners from around the world come to learn skills. Over 200 of the world’s top universities and industry educators partner with Coursera to offer courses, certificates, and degree programs.

After Covid-19 crisis, 80 pc classes will shift to physical one but to tackle such crisis in future schools must adopt blended learning, he added. Institutions must opt for standalone, multi-disciplinary courses.

Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice-Chancellor, NMIMS University, Mumbai said “Completion of semester is a huge challenge. The universities are trying to cope up with the crisis and students are doing their best. The mobility of students will be hugely affected. The challenge is faculty competency in handling online classes. The online has transformed education. Not only in India it’s a global crisis. For every question, there is an answer and we need to find it. We need to transform the education sector.”

He also said technology is just a facilitator and we must use it wisely for providing education to students. The emergence of technology has brought a cutting edge to the education sector.

He also said the safety of students if first and social distancing will be the new norm for the students when colleges will re-open.

Prof. (Dr.) Navin Sheth, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Technological University, said “There is an uncertainly over the current situation. The universities have no proper infrastructure to conduct online exams. Taking exams will be the main challenge for universities. Earlier only 3 pc were going for online learning but now it surged to 1000 pc. Technology has reshaped the education sector. “

He also said we cannot totally opt for virtual learning to complete the syllabus. The colleges must adopt blended learning. The pedagogy change is required in the education sector

Bharat Agarwal, President, Vishwakarma University, said “The basic challenge is how to complete the syllabus and engage students. Students are ready to accept online classes. The main challenge remains the assessments of students, which has created huge hindrances. Students will miss the peer to peer learning. The education system has become more serious and monotonous.”

We must take care of the safety and hygiene of students before opening the universities. Blended learning will be the next big thing. The mobility of students will be a huge challenge for colleges as it will affect the admissions, he added.

He also urged the colleges to start digitized admission process for students.

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