MasterSoft Panel Discussion – A Step towards Quality Education in Times of Covid

29 Jun 2020

MasterSoft Group held an interactive panel discussion “The Impact of Covid-19 on Education” featuring renowned academicians & educationalists. The primary aim of the discussion was to help the stakeholders decode how the digital education ecosystem works & how they can benefit their institutions by adopting the online teaching-learning processes.

During the webinar, esteemed panelists holding years of expertise discussed their visions & unfolded what the future holds for students.

Impact of COVID on Educational Landscape Decoded!

The discussion started with “Saraswati Vandana” & a warm welcome was given to the panelists by moderator- Mr. Gurudev Somani, Director, MasterSoft. The discussion featured some of the top academicians across India which included Prof. Dr. P. M. Khodke, Central Project Advisor, NPIU, Mumbai; Prof. Shashikala Wanjari, Vice Chancellor, SNDT Women’s University; Prof. Sunaina Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Nalanda University; Prof. Dr. Ami Upadhyay, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Prof. N. V. Ramana Rao, Director, NIT Warangal.

Moving Towards the Digital Transformation

Mr. Gurudev Somani initiated the conversation & asked the panelists to share their thoughts on the lockdown phase as well as the COVID situation across the nation. The panelists one-by-one expressed their views:

Prof. Sunaina Singh: COVID-19 Took the Entire World by Storm

Prof. Sunaina described the challenges the Nalanda University had to face initially due to the sudden lockdown on March 20 this year. Not just the university & students, the virus had shaken up the entire world leaving everyone in a dilemma of what’s next! Due to the uncertainty of the future & retaining the psychological well-being of students, she asked the students to go back home. Once the students moved out, the university started to plan strategies that would ensure best educational delivery without any disruption.

Prof. Shashikala Wanjari: Highest Number of Challenges due to Containment Zone

Speaking her heart out, Prof. Wanjhari felt that the COVID situation won’t last long. But as time was passing by, she realized the seriousness of the disease. Since they have two campuses in Mumbai and one in Pune, both being in containment zone areas, their concern towards children increased and without further delay, she also advised students to move back to their hometown for personal safety.

Prof. N.V. Ramana Rao: Seamless Virtual Teaching-Learning Setup Seemed to be Impossible

Agreeing with the views of co-panelists & appreciating the steps taken by them, Mr. Rao said that retaining student interest could possibly affect the e-learning infrastructure in the long run. Speaking about the bottle-necks, he explained that the faculty was worried about the completion of syllabus, which was 30% remaining at the time of virus inception. So, they decided to set up virtual classrooms with the help of educational ERP with e-learning modules. Despite integrating the best edTech for online teaching-learning, conducting online assessments & exams was difficult. So, they focused on redesigning the curriculum to improve student performance & give them an environment as comfortable as traditional classrooms.

Prof. Dr. Ami Upadhyay: Everyone Doubted the Authenticity of Classroom without Walls!

Addressing the concern, Dr. Ami admitted that conventional teaching-learning processes are most trusted by stakeholders – students, teachers, and educators. However, the learning crisis doesn’t allow the institutions to stick to them anymore! She mentioned that educators must focus on student-centric education instead of boasting about the modern edTech tools & learning management systems (LMS) they have implemented. It will help them sort out the issues of students & aid in building trust factor despite long distance learning. She also named a few channels like Swadhyay TV, and Omkar platform that are promoting student-centred learning.

‘Value-based Education’ in Distance Learning

After the initial thoughts about the pandemic and e-learning, the discussion headed towards the importance of value-based teaching-learning. From Dr. Sunaina’s perspective, the goal of educators must be to encourage sustainable development goals & value-based education. Shedding light on the horizons of education, she said that imparting education is not restricted to academics. True education focuses on developing skills, social behavior, nurturing creativity, and critical thinking among students.

Putting forth the famous quote of Alvin Toffler — 'The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn, she explained the need of recreating a new paradigm that facilitates immersive personalized education and helps in retaining positivity and good mental health in students.

Mesmerized by the thoughts of Sunaina Ma’am, Mr. Gurudev Somani appreciated her wholeheartedly. And he went on asking Wanjari Ma’am about her views on blended learning. Without any hesitation, she put forth an honest view that there’s a difference between “teacher” and a “real teacher”! A teacher is anyone who can teach but it takes a “real teacher” to adapt to the needs of students & then decide to teach what the best is for them. She also emphasized on “women empowerment” and why girls’ education is the need of the hour. Coming back to blended learning, she said that nothing can replace the “chalk & talk” traditional system but with appropriate efforts & e-learning tools, we can achieve a satisfactory level of online classroom teaching.

Gurudev Somani agreed that no technology can replace the aura a teacher holds.

Moving ahead, he asked Mr. Ramana Rao about how technology can play a key role in shaping students' careers. To this, Professor Rao said that “out-of-the-box” solutions are required. Meeting the requirements of every student and ensuring best learning outcomes is surely a tough nut to crack for the faculty with the sudden digital transformation. He further explained why collective e-content resource sharing among institutions is also crucial. Individual institutions may not be able to leverage the benefits of edTech and e-learning facilities. Sharing of data to help world-wide students learn better should be the motive of educators rather than looking after the progress of individual institutions. This initiative will facilitate research and distribution of digital study materials among students who dream to serve the country.

Speaking of blended education, he said that 70% teaching should be online while 30% must be preserved for traditional classrooms once the pandemic is over. Educators must pay attention to developing virtual labs & quality digital online courses that offer skill-development to students. Encouraging innovation in teaching methodology must be given importance during the digital transition shift. Prof. Dr. Ami Upadhyay supported these views by mentioning the quote of Andreas Schleicher - “knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency” She expressed that the role of teachers is vital and therefore, it’s high time to revise the syllabus & train our teachers to excel the virtual teaching-learning processes and deliver meaningful & quality education.

Key Takeaways

Mr. Gurudev Somani acknowledged the perspectives of panelists. He also pointed out that technology is the future of the educational sector. To explain his point, he gave a simple yet effective example of how a one year kid, who’s not even able to speak, uses YouTube & Smartphone! To this, Sunaina Ma’am added that indeed technology will play a vital role in future. 10-15 years down the line, edTech would be the king of education! However, the role of parents & faculty can’t be overlooked. They would still be the role models for a kid and their guidance is required to imbibe values in the young minds.

Read More: The Future and Importance of Edtech with Education ERP | 2020

Mr. Gurudev Somani thanked everyone for taking out time from their busy schedules & guiding the audience that comprises students & educators.

All in all, the conversation proved to be an amazingly insightful, interactive, and engaging session.

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