There is a definite need to go beyond the virtual classroom platforms and redesign the learning pedagogy on the strength of digital tools
Universities that have been taking their own time to adapt to digital possibilities and ready themselves for the digital inevitable, have sprung into action compelled by the realities of Covid-19, realising there is no other alternative for some time to come. As an important step, they have been propelled to get on to one of the meeting/collaborative platforms for delivering online interactive learning sessions. While many universities have gone ‘digital’, the reality is that conducting online sessions is just a small part of the digital phenomenon.
In order for learning to be effective and for universities to gain the confidence and support of all its stakeholders, they have to go beyond the real time interactive sessions which cannot be construed as a like-to-like alternative to classroom sessions. This calls for rethinking the teaching-learning processes and designing the new learning paradigm. The key principles for the design of the new learning paradigm should be to address the limitations faced in the traditional system and take advantage of the proliferation of affordable mobile handsets, smart digital tools and access to internet.
Large classroom strength and limitations of faculty strength have resulted in one-size-fits-all approach so far with first generation learners not being able to cope at times with the pace and focus of classroom teaching or those with a penchant to get exposure to multiple disciplines based on their individual interest areas and aspirations who have had to contend with the standardised curriculum, with limited options of electives constrained by the number of faculty available.
One of the cornerstones of the digitally enabled academic system should be to build the ability to address individual needs and set the students on the path for achieving mastery in areas of their choice based on the respective levels of interest and the proficiency at the starting point.
The teaching material used in the classroom may not be the ideal content for online self learning. This content needs to be packaged smartly with links to other reference material, practice based content as well AI tools to monitor the learning styles as well learning effectiveness to proactively suggest to the learners and the faculty on how the learning path and the learning content could be modified from time to time to personalise the experience. The teaching methodology should embrace the flipped class method with most of the commonly available information to be accessed by students from online sources in advance of the class – virtual or physical and the interactive sessions should be used for discussing key questions and challenging the students to think beyond the known information.
Life long learning and alumni relationship go hand in hand. Digital methods enable the universities to address both these requirements seamlessly and share the ongoing research and new trends with the community of learners.
The examples cited above highlight there is a definite need to go beyond the virtual classroom platforms and redesign the learning pedagogy on the strength of digital tools. To accomplish this, faculty and university curriculum designers should be oriented on the digital framework for learning and develop the strategy for the future of learning that would put the universities on the path of delivering purposeful education relevant to current times.
The writer is executive chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company