By Prof Atul Khosla, Vice Chancellor, Shoolini University
Covid pandemic has thrown life out of gear and has impacted almost all aspects of life, including education. There is still no sight of an end of the pandemic but even after the worst is over, it would leave us with several irreversible and lasting changes.
All those in the field of education shall have to learn to live with the changed world and prepare to evolve the education system to meet the challenges of the future. These changes would not just be related to new technologies and delivery systems but also to design new pedagogy with global outlook and holistic development of the students.
The outbreak of the pandemic last year and the sudden countrywide lockdown left majority of educational institutions in a lurch. They were just not prepared for the challenges posed by the new situation. These include well established institutions which had been slow in introducing modern technologies.
In fact the younger institutions, particularly those which had come up over the last decade or so, proved to be better prepared to take on the news challenges. These institutions were quick to arrange and adopt new technologies and were successful in limiting the impact of the closure of campuses.
Himachal Pradesh based Shoolini University, for instance, resumed regular classes in the online mode within three days of the countrywide lockdown. That was made possible because of the existing technology developed by the University and its specialised wing.
Since several years the University had introduced a system under which the faculty members were mandated to record their lectures in a compressed 10 minute capsule under the e-Univ platform. The students were able to access these recorded lectures whenever they wanted to do it. This not only helped those who had missed out on particular lectures but also those who needed to revise the learnings in the class. All online lectures are also recorded and students, even those who are unable to attend some of the lectures due to connectivity issues, can access these at their leisure.
This in-house secure technology was developed by Aaddoo SoftTech Ltd. The work for developing the technology, e-univ, was launched by former president APJ Abdul Kalam when he visited the university campus for its first convocation in 2003. Since then the University has made rapid advancements in the area of online teaching and linked technologies.
No wonder it received the prestigious international certification for excellence in Academic digitalisation by one of the world’s top two independent ranking agencies, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). It followed the shortlisting by the other top agency, the Times Higher Education (THE) for the top award nominations in the category of “Outstanding Student Support” for the Asia Awards 2020.
While the University offered its indigenous technology to other institutions, it was able to complete the academic session as per the schedule, including holding of examinations and declaration of results. Not just that, it held Academic Council meetings and conducted over 500 Webinars where top experts and well known names from various fields interacted with the students.
The technology is being constantly upgraded and refined. This is how all educational institutions shall have to evolve and prepare for the future challenges. There can be no escape from technology and even when the campuses reopen for physical classes the education system would have changed irreversibly.
*The writer is the Vice Chancellor of Shoolini University, Alumnus of McKinsey, Oliver Wyman, IIT Kanpur