In a recent interaction with Higher Education Review, Uma shared his insights on various aspects pertaining to online education in India today. Below are the excerpts from the exclusive interview -
What are some of the major challenges educational institutes are currently facing while offering higher education courses through an online medium?
Although online education has gained widespread prominence across the world especially post the Covid pandemic, there is still a lot of development that needs to be done in India in terms of supporting infrastructure such as internet connectivity especially in rural areas. As a result, many people today still face difficulties when accessing video content online, which is now an integral part of the learning process. Also, a huge number of educational institutions still lack the necessary technical tools to deliver lectures online to their students. Since teachers are able to connect with students only through online medium, they are unable to precisely analyze whether each student is able to grasp the concepts or if they need more assistance in any particular subject. Furthermore, there is a severe scarcity of online tools that enable students with disabilities and special needs to pursue their studies online. Thus, there is an immediate need for educational institutes to develop facilities that address various requirements of these special needs students.
Suggest a few key measures that educators must take to encourage meaningful interaction and collaboration among students in an online learning environment.
Since online learning is one of the biggest tech disruptions in the education space today, it will definitely require a different type of collaborative approach. Every educational institution must have a clear understanding of its learning objective while designing any course content. Furthermore, this objective must be clearly communicated to all students, and only then will they show interest to learn those subjects. Also, the organization must ensure that a collaborative approach is followed throughout the online learning process and encourage more teacher-student interactions during online lectures. Additionally, educators must formulate new teaching methodologies that are not only suitable for online learning, but also interactive and make sure to engage the students to the maximum extent possible in the entire learning process.
How is eLearning bridging the existing skill gap and solving the employability challenges faced by graduates in India today?
Not just for the graduates, but online education will play a significant role in education various sections of the society. For instance, the Indian government is investing hefty money and launching various programs to offering online skill based education to our farmers on the latest practices that can be implemented to maximize their crop yield. Also, educational institutions across all disciplines are laying strong emphasis on skill development throughout the entire course duration for the students to make sure they possess all the necessary skillsets to thrive in their career ahead. Additionally, educators too are now embracing digital and online technologies to enhance the reach of their courses to even the remotest corners of the country.
Furthermore, online education is also assisting professionals today to up skill themselves in various technical areas as per their choice of interest and enabling them to have a better career growth. Most importantly, online education is enabling today's youth to not equip themselves with various tech skills, but also helping them develop essential soft skills such as problem solving, decision making, leadership & managerial skills and many others. This way, online education is molding students of today into the successful business professionals of tomorrow.
Explain the role of technology in offering a personalized online learning experience for students today.
Technology is at the core of every online education system. For instance, latest communication tools are enabling students to stay in close contact with teachers and get their doubts clarified seamlessly without the hassle of physically visiting the school/college. Increased smartphone penetration and easy access to high speed internet are also playing a major role in enhancing the effectiveness of online learning for the students. Being the tech-savvy lot, today's gen-z youth are very inclined towards technology usage and are always ready to adopt any newer technologies that might help them in even the simplest of tasks. Most importantly, AI is enabling education institutions and eLearning platforms to analyze massive amounts of student data and accordingly personalize the study modules for each student, thus making it easier for the students to grasp various concepts. In Online Education Artificial Intelligence assessment can be done using different webtools which provides absolute correction information about the learner's capabilities. Accordingly, way of teaching/ interaction can be modified. Based on these results University / Institute can make a new plan for slow learner.
How is online learning making higher education more accessible for both working professionals and student graduates?
In today's dynamic business landscape, it is important for employed professionals to possess at least the minimum knowledge of various emerging technologies in order to stay abreast with changing market dynamics and achieve rapid growth. However, it is an impossible task for them to take a break from their regular office work to pursue courses to enhance their technical skillsets. Online education is the one true lifesaver in this regard, wherein it enables working professionals to take-up any course of their choice, access the study material at their convenient time from the comfort of their homes and even access various kinds of interactive study materials at any time and from any device. This holds good even for courses pertaining to higher studies, wherein students are able to pursue various courses from any college of their choice irrespective of which country it is located in. To summarize, online education has removed the time constraints for working professionals and compressed the world into a small, readily accessible space for students who want to pursue various higher education programs from prestigious foreign colleges & universities.
Uma Shankar Pandey, Ex-Principal
Uma is a seasoned industry professional with close to three decades of experience in the education space. He joined DU SOL in 2015, prior to which he held the role of Director IT at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies and Associate Professor at Delhi University