Are borderless campuses the future of education in India?
Two years into the pandemic, technology has changed the face of higher education in India, allowing students to access the best teaching and learning resources without having to physically leave their homes. Today, you could be located in any remote corner of the country and access the best teachers and learning resources from anywhere in the world.
The very consumption of education has also transformed and higher education institutions are reinventing their architectures to start from scratch and meet the demands of this new era. In this, courses are no longer confined to the confines of the traditional classroom and the methods and means of learning are adapted to create resilient and student-centered models of learning.
The second installment in a series of virtual roundtables on a technology-driven revolution for India’s education system, titled “Technology: Transforming the Learning Experience with Borderless Campuses,” powered by Lenovo, brought together a sample representative of experts from universities across the country. which looked at the evolution of higher education in India and the role technology has played in this change.
The discussion began with a background. India has over 1,000 Institutions of Tertiary Education (HEIs), which switched to online learning almost overnight. According to a recent study, approximately 57% of institutions across all sectors are reassessing their strategic priorities for e-learning, and for them, expanding online course offerings is now the top area of interest.
As institutions catered to the new digital student, the infrastructure also needed to accommodate blended learning. “Change was difficult because learners weren’t ready and even teachers weren’t ready with their content and infrastructure. For blended learning, the main challenge I foresee is getting the right infrastructure in place to digital classrooms. The mode of teaching may change, but the fiber it will work on is technology,” said Sandeep Bansal, Head of Department – ICT, REVA University.
Online learning has broadened the compass for institutions, which can now offer more course and program choices online, recognize and support online learning priorities, and provide the flexibility to meet student needs with different teaching modes spread across online and offline channels.
“The classroom itself has moved from an ICT-enabled classroom to a smart, digital and now cloud-based classroom. As we try to give students the same type of education, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to see how different the mode of delivery can be. The same subject that was taught in a classroom may need to be taught differently when done online,” said Amit Suratkar, IT Manager, Symbiosis.
The hybrid learning environment we see today must include various learning tools, such as video recordings of lessons, delivery and accessibility tools, virtual labs and simulations, etc.
“If you look at the research and innovation that’s happened over the past two years, it’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We need to reorganize our IT infrastructure – this should be the first priority. Hybrid learning has taught us that from headset, microphone to every other aspect of hardware and software, everything is essential,” said Charudatta Kulkarni, CTO, MIT Art Design and Technology University.
Technology solutions are deployed today to enable broader and better collaboration between students and faculty, and Lenovo delivers durable, secure, and manageable devices and technology leadership that inspires creativity and fuels the imagination in any campus environment.
“We are all going through a paradigm shift on how to teach better and learn better in this environment, and how to create an environment that enables learning through technology. At Lenovo, our vision is for smarter technology for all, giving teachers and learners a platform to collaborate seamlessly and securely wherever they are,” said Pankaj Harjai, Director – Tablets and Smart Devices, Lenovo India.
Today, Lenovo empowers and supports IT with solutions designed specifically to meet the unique needs and challenges of higher education and by delivering innovative, future-oriented EdTech that equips students with the right skills required to the future workplace.
The panel addressed a pressing issue facing the education sector today. India needs an additional 3.3 million teachers in tertiary education based on a teacher-student ratio of 1:15, a 235% increase from the current availability of 1.4 million. Technology can come to the rescue here.
The digital transformation is not limited only to the curriculum, the mode of delivery of the courses and the support of the students. It is also about the back office, the operational model and the technology deployed to make the model flexible and agile.
“Each institute has its own needs and requirements for multiple activities, from student acquisition and onboarding and scholars to exams, internships, library and hostel. Technology adoption has been taken over by institutions in bits and pieces. There is a strong need for an architecture of solutions to be designed for institutions where they can choose the right solutions that are cost effective,” Bansal said.
The panel looked at critical areas that should be on the priority list for universities adopting blended learning models and supporting faculty in using technology to improve learning outcomes. “Cloud adoption and a good network backbone are very important to support a hybrid learning model. Also, the learning experience for students should be enjoyable and fun,” Suratkar said.
Another area is skills development, which has been approached from a higher education perspective. According to a recent report, more than 90% of young people in rural India have not received any vocational training in 2020. Higher education institutions can then harness the power of technology to act as a catalyst for change and eliminate barriers. socio-economic and geographic barriers to learning for this segment of the population and providing equitable education across the country.
“Today, HEIs are partnering with local and global institutes to come up with new plans to deliver skills-based education to nearby villages to empower those without the financial means to afford it. said Kulkarni.
The discussion concluded with a consensus that blended learning is the way forward for education in India. As students resume face-to-face learning, educational institutions can deploy different technological tools to merge online and offline learning models and build resilience.
“Many technologies have emerged in the past two years, such as video-assisted distance learning, immersive learning, AI, virtual reality, on-demand learning. As students return to campuses, all of this will gradually be integrated into the classroom using the right tools as catalysts,” Harjai said.
Disclaimer: This article was created on behalf of the brand by the HTBS team.