Published On : 19th April, 2021
It has been one whole year since a nationwide lockdown was imposed and every private and public institution was closed indefinitely. During the strictly imposed lockdown citizens of the country had to develop new ways to fetch primary necessities. One of the groups which faced a severe brunt of the lockdown was the education fraternity, particularly the higher education sector. Universities adapted to the situation through various means, primarily through moving the classes to laptop and mobile screens. Many students complained about the classes initially but came around the issue after a few months. For most of us it has been a matter of fait accompli that embraced online teaching and learning.
Even after eulogies about education, during lock downs we discover we are categorized in non-essential services and are the first to be locked down and the last to be considered for opening up. People whom I meet gleefully ask oh, the campus is still closed. I sadly answer yes. Then they say “but online classes must be on” indicating all is well and nothing is lost. What is lost in this over simplification of education process is to consider education is all about a teacher teaching and a pupil learning. The medium should be a least of the hindrance. This naivety is distressing.
The corporate sector has moved on from the experience and learnings from the pandemic. Many corporate houses are still functioning completely remotely and many are calling their employees in pockets. The lockdown resulted in the industry adapting to remote conditions and maximizing the productivity of the organization.
While the corporate sector can afford to work remotely, the higher education sector cannot. The idea of a university entails a physical campus that provides its pupil with the requisite conditions which work for the administration, the students and the stakeholders. One cannot fully assess the innovative capability of an educational institute through the measure of competence to work remotely. Students shall get the required training in the physical space with their peers and teachers in a milieu which promotes values necessary for being a part of the burgeoning workforce.
While online delivery of education has been there since even before the lockdowns and there are many successful examples of the same, it is important to note the difference between being prepared for it and having to adapt to it. Further in those successful cases the receiver made a choice. The difference now is that the learner has no choice.
One year spent in the lockdown has unlocked new opportunities for the universities. The online classes provide a sense of understanding about future employment. Various assignments help students to familiarize themselves with the technology and work in an environment where discipline is aimed at oneself as opposed to the traditional approach where someone else had to direct students to work. While online classes provide such an experience, it also lacks the dynamic nature of physical classes and the engagement with peers. e-learning is yet to develop in such a manner that it provides pupils with the required vivacity, which physical classes often do.
The idea of a university has to be kept intact. New modes, new mediums should be used to make it better, not dilute the core ethos of a place that contributes to the world of ideas. It must still prepare students to meet the rising challenges, shape the discourse, craft the world of work. We certainly need to envision a post-pandemic world where we have to revamp the existing pedagogy to imbibe the idea of a university in a new manifestation.
While we learned various lessons from the last year, the most striking lesson is to adapt to the new challenges and tackle them head-on. ADYPU has been functioning as the bastion of innovation in the country, it becomes pivotal to maintain the legacy through constant exploration and innovation around the challenges we face and provide the premier solutions for our students and stakeholders.