15 Mar 2021 21:25 IST

2020 led a significant transition in higher education

Both teachers and students are readjusting and recalibrating as virtual educators and learners

2020 was one of the biggest years of transformations the education industry. The coronavirus pandemic rapidly forced classroom learning to adhere to digital medium and at times blended education to have an uninterrupted learning experience. The Covid-19 pandemic impacted the education sector heavily. With 1.26 billion children worldwide having gone education-less, as estimated by the UNESCO, 300 million children are from India. The initial hiccups of the lockdown had compelled not only students but also educators to come out of their comfort zone and learnt new skills to master online teaching platforms among others. The complete education system has gone through an unprecedented growth in digital transformation, moreover, the education experts suggest that this is just the beginning.

As we move towards a new beginning, we should be ready with novel challenges including student retention, student engagement, collaborative learning requirements as well as competitive models from international institutions. Edtech is going to play a pivotal role in solving these challenges for higher education institutes. The key trends include:

Video-based content to rise

One should not be surprised to learn that the usage of videos for online training or video-based learning will gain momentum this year to make the education process interesting and increase student engagement. No doubt videos are a high-impact medium, and it creates an engaging learning experience with high recall and retention. It also encourages micro-learning, creativity and interactivity among the students. There is a myth that video-based learning was created to replace teachers and trainers, but it was created to enhance the learning experience and increase the accessibility of quality education even in the far-flung areas, where there is a dismal student and teacher ratio.

Increased use of advanced tech

IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented reality are going to play a pivotal role in education in order to enhance student learning and engagement. It will reinvent the online learning space in the years to come. Through AI, student learning abilities will be estimated, which in turn will help us to bring modifications in the learning process. But the biggest challenge in implementing these evolved technologies in the education is the internet penetration especially in tier II and tier III cities. These technologies have to be affordable so that underprivileged students can also have an access to them.

Blended learning

With the onset of new strain of muted coronavirus, looks like the first few months of 2021 would follow the ‘new normal.’ In such a scenario, blended learning will play a significant role for education sector. For the past few years, blended learning has been a part of premier higher education institutes such as IIMs and IITs. This form of learning combines online educational materials and opportunities for online interaction with traditional place-based classroom methods. Since some courses involve practical classes, blended learning is effective for such studies. Blended learning helps in enhancing the access to education and maximizes flexibility to both students and teachers. This kind of learning process initiates student interest, interaction and satisfaction in the learning environment. Blended learning is no doubt the future of global learning. 

(The writer is Vice-Chancellor, JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur.)