Bring higher education to the doorstep of Gen-Next
“Can we be equal and excellent at the same time? John Gardner, former United States Secretary of Education, asked in the 1960s. Since then, access, equity, quality and affordability of education have been widely debated.
A holistic education system should provide knowledge seekers with affordable, quality education at their doorsteps to create effective learners with domain knowledge, soft and hard skills, and the ability to communicate across cultures, time, and worlds. ‘space.
The student community, particularly in India, is a heterogeneous group with diverse needs and requires different teaching paces, formats and learning styles, among other associated forms of flexibility.
Keep up with technology
Information and communication technologies (ICT), which are bringing innovative disruptions to higher education and creating new learning narratives, can be of great help. However, technological advancements in the modern world are so prolific that higher education institutions (HEIs) unable to embrace the changes taking place in teaching and learning processes will lose their relevance.
Digitization of higher education plays a crucial role in this context as it helps to create a responsive administration, a multidisciplinary curriculum and facilitates experiential learning and real-time performance assessment based on learning outcomes, a effective communication, availability of online learning resources even in remote environments. rural areas, innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and awareness. In addition, digitization will help learners who cannot come to class and those with different abilities.
Digitization tracks in India
Digitization in Indian higher education has started with the production of quality e-content and courseware by Electronic and Multimedia Resource Centers (EMRC), and its dissemination through Vyas Higher Education TV channel 24×7 and 32 channels Swayamprabha DTH (direct to home).
Over the past decade, the Ministry of Education has accelerated the process of digitization through several initiatives related to access to online courses, quality digital academic content, academic research, and institutional administrative practices.
For online courses, several options – including access to Massive Online Open Online Courses (Moocs), National Curriculum on Technology Enhanced Learning, e-PG pathshala (interactive electronic content based on programme), e-acharya (a portal to host all e-content developed within the framework of projects within the framework of NME-ICT), Fosse (free/free and open source software for education) and Sakshat (a portal one-stop-shop) – are available.
There are several databases and tools available for university research such as e-Shodh Sindhu (consortia for electronic resources of higher education), e-Shodh Gangotri (digital repository of theses and dissertations), Shodh Shudhhi (software for plagiarism detection) and National Digital Library (repository of academic content).
Virtual skills development
To facilitate skill development and innovation in science, engineering, technology and design through a virtual learning environment, students can browse e-yantra (systems training labs) embedded), e-kalpa (digital learning environment for design), virtual labs (web experiments designed for remote operation), spoken tutorials (computer application), SOS Tools (software and simulation software), text transcription of video content, Oscar (open source tutorial animation repository).
In addition, Vidwan (a digital database of experts) enables expertise sharing and collaboration between academics and institutions.
Easy academic management
The National Academic Depository via DigiLocker ensures 24-hour availability of student prizes in digital form; Baadal, an NME-ICT cloud orchestration and virtualization management software, accelerates the development and deployment of e-gov applications for academic needs; and the Samarth project improves the efficiency of administrative, financial and evaluation-related activities by reducing response time.
All these efforts have laid a solid foundation for creating a digitization ecosystem in higher education, which will help establish the proposed digital university on the model of University 4.0.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing HEIs to resort to online teaching, it is now clear that higher education will see extensive use of digitalization in course design, practice-oriented teaching, research, learning, and more. assessment and all other aspects of teaching and learning to create a next-generation learning environment.
For learners, the flexibility, adaptability and personalization fueled by digitalization make learning a joyful enterprise, both in traditional classroom learning and online. Through technology-based courses, virtual reality sessions, virtual labs, digital models and simulations, gamification, electronic documents, electronic texts and reference books, online assignments, learnings and extensive open educational resources, students can have engaging learning experiences.
To facilitate the impending transition, HEIs must use technology to create a credible ecosystem that improves learning outcomes and offers personalization. This can be accomplished by using ICT, adopting blended learning models, creating industry associations and developing skills and competencies for 21st century life. HEIs should continually update their curricula, course content, teaching methods, assessment, integrate problem-solving research with academics, conduct research in the digital environment with world peers entire and adapt modular models. HEIs also need to turn to learner-centred, soft-skills-focused and domain-specific approaches that are key to improving learners’ employability. They should embrace hybrid learning models comprising offline, online, lab and on-site platforms and include industry, skill centers and unorganized learning centers in rural India by creating collaborative and outreach activities between industry and academia.
The National Education Policy, 2020 cannot be implemented without digitizing higher education. Capacity building of faculty members in digitization technologies is essential to enable them to embrace advances in the teaching-learning process.
Funding, an obstacle
However, funding will be a barrier to effective digitalization of higher education, as large-scale investments in hardware, software and the provision of high-speed internet connectivity in remote and rural areas are needed to create a robust digital architecture necessary for a global and complete environment. inclusive and flexible learning ecosystem. Overcoming these hurdles will ensure that Gen-Next’s on-screen tendency is taken seriously and their dwindling memory spans are improved. Educational planners and leaders must take responsibility for the digitization of their respective institutions.
(The author is Vice-Chancellor of Central Punjab University, Bathinda. Opinions expressed are personal.)