Great opportunity for Digital Learning during COVID-19
Says Prof PB Sharma, Vice Chancellor, Amity University Gurugram
As the nationwide lockdown due to Corona Virus COVID-19 continues, working from home for the teachers and learning from home for students has come as a great opportunity to utilize digital learning platforms like MS Teams, Zoom, Moodle and others. This is also in line with our efforts to keep the students at home engaged in upgrading their knowledge and skills of their respective domains as avoid built up of stresses due to lockdown at home, says Prof PB Sharma Vice Chancellor Amity University Gurugram who is also the Founder Vice Chancellor of DTU and RGPV.
Digital learning provides a broad canvas for both formal and informal learning in groups as well as in self-learning modes. India is blessed with advantage connectivity and deep penetration of internet and digital systems. As per the ICUBE report 2019 internet users in India have reported an annual growth of 18% during the last few years, taking internet facility to 627 million users in India in 2019. Thus, creating a great ‘Advantage IT’ for both the urban as well as the rural India. Increased availability of bandwidth, cheap data plans and increased engagement on social media has gone a long way to make Indians of all age groups IT savvy and global netizens.
In the education sector our immediate priority during COVID-19 lockdown and thereafter should be to utilize Advantage IT for creating a great advantage to our young India that has over 666 million in the age group of 25 years. Our efforts should be to maximize utilization of online systems to prepare our students not only for the immediate task of completing the course work for the current academic year but also to look beyond and prepare our workforce for tomorrow’s knowledge intensive, technology driven connected work environment, Says Prof Sharma. It goes without saying that in coming years working from home, sharing the workforce time for multiple tasks and working for multiple employers may become a reality for a greater proportion of professionals. This would also necessitate a radical change in the way we prepare our work force and train and retrain them to remain relevant to the rapidly changing knowledge and skill needs of the Industry and corporates.
The experience gained from online classes, online workforce training programs, online management of tasks and activities during Covid-19 should pave the way for designing India’s workforce strategies for tomorrow’s industries, corporate and business enterprises.
The universities in India as well as abroad will also be increasingly focusing on effective integration of formal (classroom and lab based) teaching and digital learning (online classes, online workshop, seminar, online project and brainstorming) to maximize Advantage IT in education at all levels. It is however important that both the teachers and the students take up the task of submitting themselves to creating a more professionally oriented teaching- learning environment during the conduct of online classes and other online activities.
This would necessitate formulating standard guidelines for regulating personal conduct and behavior so that the online teaching-learning is conducted with utmost sincerity and purpose. Thus during the lockdown period of working from home, while the teachers would be required to prepare for the day as if they were going their university for work, well equipped and well dressed and likewise the students should also prepare themselves for the day, taking up online classes well prepared to receive and participate in interactions with head and heart with the same level of sincerity and excitement as if they are going to a formal class. It would be advisable to earmark a proper place at home for participating in the online classes. It will be highly desirable that a separate room in house be arranged for online classes for the school/ college/ university going children in the family.
The top management of the university through their Heads of Institutions should regularly generate daily and weekly performance reports as also to continuously improve the conduct of the online classes to make digital learning more effective.
At Amity University through our regular review of online classes and team meetings with the HoIs/HoDs we are in a position to utilize digital learning in a big way in all our Amity Universities in India. Integration of Expert Lectures, Alumni Webinar and Group Discussions further make online learning in Amity Universities highly fruitful and create high student satisfaction.
The IT connectivity and internet providers may also review their data plans and make it even more affordable as there is considerable surge in volume of data uses for education as well as other online service sectors. The Government on its parts may also support the growth of online services and online education, training and skill development by its policy interventions, says Professor Sharma, who is also the past President of Association of Indian Universities.