A thorough management professional, Prof. (Dr.) Daviender Narang is working as a Professor and Director at Jaipuria Institute of Management, Ghaziabad. He has a rich experience of 22 years in the field of academics and management, especially in the best business and management institutes of India and abroad. He has experience of establishing successful management business schools. He has worked on a World Bank-supported project on capacity-building in Ethiopia for two years. He holds two post graduate degrees in Business Economics and Finance & Control. He has a Ph.D in Economics and his contribution to research focuses on banking efficiency in India. His areas of expertise are security analysis, corporate finance, banking, research methodology and mutual funds. He is also associated with business firms as a corporate trainer on various financial modules. A fine academic and administrator, he is known as an institution builder, an acclaimed teacher, a prolific speaker, an avid researcher, a consultant and a trainer.
The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has confined all individuals to the four corners of their homes. But that could not deter the spirit of the learners and the education system. The pandemic and its subsequent lockdown have prompted the entire academia to explore and engage technology-based learning to create a relevant, effective learning ecosystem for learners.
The technology that was being used to teach the learners as an addendum has now transformed and captured the entire education system. Traditional classrooms have been replaced by online classrooms which make use of online platforms like CISCO, Google Meet, MS Teams, Zoom, etc. to educate the young learners. In a country like India, where majority of the people in remote areas are deprived of schools and technological amenities, the current crisis has brought a fresh whiff of technology in their lives.
Many students and teachers have struggled to procure digital devices and learn the techniques to use them effectively, whereas, there have been many still struggling to buy a smart phone for want of money. The natural calamities like the storm Amphan and floods have wrecked the lives of many not only in villages but also in cities, depriving them of basic necessities and also internet facilities. But nothing could stop the zest of the teacher and the taught who have braved all odds to continue learning by using technology, even when there is a continuous debate on whether to close the institutions or open them.
At this juncture, e-learning proves to be a panacea while paving the way for a newer model of teaching and learning. One can find that the post-pandemic teaching processes are way different from their pre-pandemic version. A steep rise in e-learning, flipped learning, virtual mode of learning is quite evident in the current scenario.
E-learning, which is otherwise known as online learning, virtual learning, or web-based learning, has become the saviour in the current scenario for continuing teaching and learning process. One can define e-learning as a virtual classroom or an online learning environment where students can be independent to learn and interact with instructors and other students. Learning in this mode is more flexible and learner-centered.
The students’ attitude in accepting various learning methods and adapting to new surroundings for learning has also changed drastically. Students have become more independent and self-reliant today. Flexibility, creative learning content, and learner autonomy are some of the benefits academicians find in due course. E-teaching and learning also encourages personalized learning and enhances critical thinking and problem-solving skills among learners. However, issues related to quality of education and assessment of learners’ performance are questioned by academics.
Every system has got its pros and cons; so does e-learning. It has been observed that e-teaching can act as a barrier between the student and the instructor, as immediate response, sharing, and human touch are lost. Sometimes students’ callous behaviour and non-serious attitude act as limitations for online classroom.
Education is not only about sharing knowledge and information. Its scope goes beyond books, syllabus, and theoretical knowledge. It is a training of the mind and enrichment of the heart. It is all-round development of an individual. Learners learn better when they work in a group, like a classroom. They learn much more from the peer group than from their elders. They play sports and participate in different activities. However, all these are not possible in e-teaching. Learners are compelled to sit in rooms, glued to computers, straining their eyes. They miss the charm of physical activities and pastime with friends. There are reports that a large number of children are suffering from depression and psychological problems due to lack of peer bonding. Additionally, there have been many major challenges both teachers and learners have faced in e-teaching and learning, such as learning loss, lack of internet access in remote areas, virtual dropouts of students, difficulty in assessment of learners and so on.
As COVID-19 has negatively impacted the smooth running of educational institutions, online learning is the only resort. It is a fact that e-teaching and learning cannot act as a substitute for the traditional mode of learning; however, it can be considered as the best alternative. It helped millions of students to continue their learning and helped educational institutions in their smooth running.
Rather, one can see COVID as an opportunity for opening new vistas of learning. The pandemic has redefined education. It has brought together the entire academic community across the globe. A very encouraging thing has been noticed that the academicians, teachers have become proactive and creative than ever while sharing their learning content. Instead of sitting back, they have explored new avenues, adapted major changes in the medium of teaching and also created interesting and effective contents.
Yet, the challenges are myriad. We need to address these issues. Ranging from the learning loss to connectivity issues, we have to adapt with the issues as they crop up. Simultaneously, teachers need to act as a facilitator rather than a preacher in the class. Our learners are not settled in the front rows; they have access to teachers across the globe. They have a choice now. The COVID situation has made one thing crystal clear. Our education system needs more than just the academic system. Both modes have their pros and cons, but we need to accustom to the changes. Adaptability, collaboration in education are the key words.