Due to Covid-19, all universities have been compelled to offer courses online, and various videoconferencing tools are being used.
By Nitish Jain
Online education was, for long, the stepchild of the education industry. It got a shot in the arm 7-8 years ago with the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These took off like wildfire, but MOOCs had a flaw. Statistics showed, on average, only 5% completed a course.
Due to Covid-19, all universities have been compelled to offer courses online, and various videoconferencing tools are being used. However, humans prefer to see a live professor teach; it’s odd to see someone sitting with headsets and zero eye contact. This has led to schools like Harvard, Oxford and SP Jain School of Global Management invent more sophisticated forms of online learning. In 2018, we launched the next closest to a live classroom—the Engaged Learning Online (ELO). Here, not only is there a live professor, s/he can see you and you could see her/him. S/he walks around engaging students in live discussions and debates, instead of sitting in one place. The faculty conducts real-time polls.
So, what does the future hold? My prediction is that, over time, education will be entirely online, but hybrid classes will be in vogue. Our ELO technology, too, is being refined as we get more feedback.
Donna J Abernathy, former editor of TD magazine, says, “Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing.”
(The author is president, SP Jain School of Global Management. Views are personal)