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28.04.2021 Opinion

The Future of Education is Here- Online Education and e-Gurukuls at all levels- Kulpati

By Prof. Pritam B Sharma
The Future of Education is Here- Online Education and e-Gurukuls at all levels- Kulpati
LISTEN APR 28, 2021

The rapid pace with which the digital transformation has been adopted the world over has on one hand badly disrupted the conventional systems in all sectors of the economy and human endeavors on the other hand opened enormous opportunities for rapid growth and development.

The world community including India has taken the disruptive digital transformation as a great opportunity to create a new wave of online education, online health services, online shopping, online services, and businesses further facilitated by online banking creating the ease of doing business.

In fact the digital transformation has created the conditions for the future to be here and everywhere, says eminent academician Prof Pritam B Sharma, Founder Vice-Chancellor of DTU and RGPV who is also the past President of Association of Indian Universities, AIU.

Let us look at the education sector that for a long time was being blamed for its static curriculum and for its age old methods of class room teaching in an environment of the sage on stage. The education sector was infact in a comfort zone despite the fact it was to prepare the human resources and develop innovations and technologies for handling major disruptions that the industries have suffered due to rapidly advancing technologies. Ever increasing automation that made Industry 4.0 to be fully networked, smart and automated with most modern digital tools and smart Robotics has already become a reality in almost all sectors of manufacturing and process industry. Machine learning and AI integration is becoming the rule of the game in industries everywhere including here in India that is rapidly emerging as a leading manufacturing hub in the world.

Thanks to Covid-19 that it has caused a major disruption in education sector at all levels from primary to the college and university levels. What more it all came so sudden and without any notice. All the educational institutions around the globe in fact got a rude shock where all of a sudden the conventional teaching system came to a grinding halt due to Covid-19. The impact was so devastating that even the high and mighty Universities found it almost unbearable.

But then, the speed with which the education community from schools to colleges and universities geared to online classes and also online examinations, it made digital transformation in education opened great many new opportunities for revitalizing and even radically reforming education system to serve the needs of today as well as that of tomorrow.

The positive mindset with which the teachers, students and parents have readily accepted the online classes and online examinations, online admissions, and on line placement interviews and faculty recruitment is something to be appreciated in a country like India where for a long time the education sector was being blamed for its rigidity and hesitation to adopt technology assisted systems for improving the efficacy of the teaching learning environment.

With the wider acceptability of online education and online examination and assessment, new grounds have also been created for collaborative learning, for team teaching and for self learning. In fact, enormous flexibility and choice to learn as per the interest of the learners and that too from any where at any time is becoming now a reality. The future of education that promotes autonomy of learning has thus truly arrived. It is a sign of a bright future for the education sector.

The digital transformation has truly brought the world of learning to be accessible and affordable for one and all. It has also opened enormous opportunities for innovative and enterprising minds to create new systems of massification of education without the need for enormous infrastructure that was necessary in the conventional class room teaching environment in the pre Covid times.

However, to reap full benefits of the digital transformation here in India we must significantly augment our digital communication resources including making high investment that is required for technology upgradation of the massive digital communication infrastructure that in India today is serving 761.29 million internet users and 1.06 billion mobile connections, and is rapidly growing each day.

The global internet users today stand at 4.72 billion, grew 332 million in the last 12 months, amounting to more than 90000 new users per day. Almost 60 percent of the World population today is using internet. This shall further grow as the digital transformation is now sweeping all sectors of economy and with a wider public acceptability.

So what are the major opportunities and challenges for the education sector. The first and foremost is of course a great opportunity to rapidly expand the education base to benefit millions more in India by quality online education and cause a quantum jump in the learners registered for the degrees and employability courses.

But then the current levels of connectivity and fragile IT infrastructure require major modernisation and massive investments. The IT service providers are to be incentivized to provide affordable high quality internet connectivity with high speed of data transition for mounting online education with a perfect blend of audio, video and interactive learning portals that are required to make online classes and online training programme truly interesting.

It is heartening that the teaching community in India has responded very well for the use of modern online education systems for which they had hesitation for a long time under the pretext that online teaching is not effective. They need to now upgrade their technology skills to make online teaching learning environment even more interesting and effective to cause deeper interest in learning and to make the graduates of the universities in India future ready.

Students are already highly tech savvy and have responded very well to online learning and also realised that they now have better systems to engage in learning both in as well as outside the class rooms. The online education environment has also caused a massive activity in respect on online webinars and expert interactions further enhancing the outreach to expertise both within the country and around the world. This is going to remain as a highly desirable feature even after the present wave of pandemic is over.

We have to however find better ways to support millions of our students from lower middle and low income families where availability of laptop, smart phones and high speed internet facility is not available to the children.

Mobile high tech class rooms as e-Gurukuls facilitating both self learning and also online classes for such deprived sections of the society need to be provided in great numbers both in the urban as well as rural areas. Here philanthropy can play a great role and so should the Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR and University Social Responsibility, USR. Infact we require e-Gurukuls at all levels of education and make them an integral part of our education system in the new normal for education here after.

In Amity University Gurugram we have taken up the digital transformation with a positive mindset and utilized the great opportunity thrown open for online education during the Covid times without any teething problems. We were already using a well developed high tech university wide intranet IT platform for all our academic activities including all student services on Amizon, the in-house Amity customised IT portal. This made the transition from class room teaching to online classes both smooth and easily adaptable both by the students as well as the teachers. Further, digitization of all administrative and professional activities has made Amity University future ready to deliver world quality education and research outcome with global standards. The online examinations have also facilitated continuous assessment and have now become an effective tool to enhance learnability. Online student satisfaction survey and feed back of stakeholders is also improving the satisfaction and creating trust in the system much more than ever before. Like work from home online classes and online assessment have now become a new normal in education.

Well the future of education is already here. Let us embrace digital transformation in education at all levels and leap frog with competence and caliber and say with confidence that future of education is here, says Prof PB Sharma Vice Chancellor of Amity University Gurugram.

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