With widespread adoption of remote working models in the current times, collaboration has emphasised its importance more than ever before. The need to collaborate is key to ensure seamless processes. The higher education sector is not an exception. While a large proportion of educational institutes were already equipped with digital classroom infrastructure, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the rest to adapt to the new model of teaching and learning, with collaboration being at the centre of all digital initiatives.
Recognising this, Express Computer, in partnership with Poly and VCNow, organised an exclusive webinar titled, ‘Next gen collaborative tech to power the new education era’, which brought together some of the pioneers from India’s higher education sector who discussed the disruption in the industry and how collaborative technologies are forming the core of how education is being imparted digitally.
In his Keynote Address themed ‘New Education Policy and the Digital’, Prof. Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Member, National Education Policy Committee, Ministry of Human Development, Government of India, explained how the NEP 2020 aims to transform the education sector and foster innovation, with a strong emphasis on emerging technologies.
He said, “It’s now time for us to recognise the role of artificial intelligence in education sector and implement it. It’s high time that we introduce technology education to students. The National Education Policy aims at taking India forward as a knowledge superpower. The policy looks at students as unique individuals and fosters critical thinking, creativity, innovation, design thinking and problem solving, and technology is a key component to enable this. For the first time, we have introduced coding a language from middle school.”
He added, “We will now use AI to track students growth during the school years. It can also help students in choosing their career; going forward, AI has a big role to play. Furthermore, the National Education Technology Forum will provide a platform for exchange of ideas and help in deployment of the latest technology across education. NEP 2020 looks at the reforms from an ecosystem perspective and solution providers also play a key role to support the policy implementation with their innovations.”
The webinar featured a insightful panel discussion on ‘Next gen collaborative tech to power the new normal’, wherein decision makers from some of India’s leading educational institutes deep dived into the new reality and how are they responding and realigning their processes in that direction. The discussion was moderated by Sudipta Dev, Senior Associate Editor, Express Computer and CRN India and the panel was participated by Prof Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore; Dr. Balvinder Shukla, Vice Chancellor, Amity University Uttar Pradesh; Dr. S K Mishra, Professor & Head of Department, SGPGI, Lucknow; Prof A K Pani, Dean – Academics, XLRI; and Dishan Kamdar, Vice Chancellor, FLAME University.
Sharing Flame University’s perspective, Prof. Kamdar said, “We assembled a technology transformation team which set up various workshops to train our faculty and students on the digital front, and we were able to accomplish this in just five days. We were among the first universities to complete our graduation courses on time. The crisis has been a huge learning experience for us and I think the future of education will be around blended learning.”
XLRI is known for pioneering virtual mode of education much ahead of time. Shedding more light, Prof. Pani shared, “We started virtual education delivery in October 2002 and we were the first management school in India to embark upon this journey. Initially, we witnessed resistance from some of the stakeholders, but they are now confident about the online mode of education. Our objective behind this effort was to replicate classroom environment on the virtual platform. Currently, we have a portfolio of 30 certificate programmes being offered on the virtual platform.”
Sharing his experience at IIM Indore, Prof. Rai informed, “We already had a virtual learning system in place and we were the earliest IIM to move to online classes within a week. Shifting to digital platforms was not a problem for us, however several students faced challenges due to lack of proper infrastructure. Considering this, our programme officers chose the right platform that would ensure uninterrupted delivery of education even in low bandwidth infrastructure. Now our focus is on making virtual classrooms smarter. For instance, we have set up a studio with support from VCNow. We have also signed an MoU with IIT Indore to further strengthen our online systems.”
Due to its nature, medical education has its unique challenges in moving to digital platforms. However, the right set of solutions can help overcome these challenges up to a large extent. Highlighting the same, Dr. Mishra commented, “Medical education is different from other domains. We need to have dedicated systems to run an education programme virtually. For instance, SATCOM based virtual education programme is being used to connect various medical colleges across the country to deliver education. The government has also introduced National Medical College Network which provides an integrated platform to share knowledge among students. During the last few months, we have been connected with students on this platform to ensure seamless and continued education.”
Providing her assessment, Dr. Shukla added, “We immediately moved to virtual teaching platforms upon the outbreak of the pandemic. One of the biggest advantages for us has been our belief in technology and our rich experience in delivering online classes. Our young faculty having industry expertise created e-content for education using various digital tools. We also maintained an optimum size of classes to improve effectiveness of digital delivery of education. A lot of interaction has to happen on the digital medium to keep students engaged in classes.”
The right set of technologies on the right platform is key to ensuring an immersive classroom environment virtually. This is where the role of technology partners become critical. In a session titled, “Poly – Transforming education in the times of new normal”, Chaitanya Vedanabhatla, Presales Manager, Poly and Darayus Mehta, Founder Director, VCNow.in shared more about their product offerings and solutions and how Poly and VCNow, together, can bring value to educational institutes with their technologies.
Vedanabhatla said, “Poly and its partners help in enabling people with seamless technology running in the background. Our products are designed to provide optimal experience to students and help keep them engaged. From an instructor’s perspective, we offer products that allow them to connect with students seamlessly throughout the class. Furthermore, our product portfolio also provides solutions designed for a hybrid or blended learning environment.”
Adding to that, Mehta stated, “Our platform is designed around several key factors. Technology must not change the paradigm of teaching and learning, and physical classrooms experiences should be enabled in virtual classroom environment as well. We believe that there should be minimum technology interference and friction, so that the faculty can focus on lecture and students can focus on learning.”
To watch the full webinar please click here.