The year 2020 brought along with it predicaments which initially were thought to stand a bleak chance of occurrence. What seemed to be mild aberration by many, as the news flowed through the channels early 2020, turned out to be damaging over the year. The turn of events that led to lockdown in many countries only added fuel to the VUCA world in which they were operating.
History has taught us to deal with such situations, handful of men from the generations that survive today on this earth may have experienced the severity of the Spanish flu hit in 1918. The H1N1 brushed past us in 2010, with adverse impact in limited geographies. Followed by a committee set up by the WHO in 2011, which indicated that the world is not prepared to handle medical emergencies of such type. And a decade later when the COVID 19 hit, though it looked like we were unprepared but we stood the test of time and have handled the situation well, though with some visible scars.
Though it did seem to be a non-viable idea, imposition of a lockdown, a valuable learning from the Spanish flu, proved to be an effective non-pharmacological intervention. The period of lockdown varied across the globe and it gave the administrators the necessary time to organize and strengthen themselves. While this came with a heavy price. No sector was left untouched, there were some which were badly hit and among them was the manufacturing, real estate sector and the players from the unorganized sector.
Education sector was no different. The new normal, which we saw here to stay for quite some time during the year 2020 turned out to be “Annus mirabilis”. And this is how it was…
Though we missed out on the in person learning sessions, it gave the academic fraternity a wonderful opportunity to explore areas of engagement with the learners. Both the student and the teaching communities were in the same ship learning to navigate through the digital leaning space while separated geographically.
Dissolving the geographical borders connecting the learners in the online sessions gave it a wonderful opportunity to connect with each other across the time zones, though, with a little inconvenience. This also gave opportunities of having virtual visitors in the classroom, which otherwise would have been difficult for logistics issues.
The stakeholders also benefited by the flexibility in scheduling of the sessions at short notice, the saving of the faculty time giving liberty to the learners and the facilitators opportunities to explore innovative ways of making the class sessions more engaging. Research being a part of core learning process, the flexibility and savings on the travel time gave the researchers the much needed additional time for it. The count from “Nature Index” indicates that the research publications from all the researchers across the globe are moving north.
While engaging the learners online did bring out one aspect of screen fatigue and no eye contact with the students, there were numerous ways to engage the students, which otherwise would not be possible in the in person classes. The tools like the chat, poll, break out rooms, live documents, shared white board enhanced the learning experience of the students. Like the chat gave freedom to the students who would be silent in the class maybe not wanting to open up in the cohort. Polls quickly collects the opinion of the learners to drive the discussions in manner to deliver the underlying idea of the session effectively.
The e content developed by the faculty is another plus in this platform of learning, this helped the students to learn at their own pace and refer to the content whenever they were stuck. Needless to mention that this e content will eventually flow into the public domain for the benefit of the larger public.
All in all, if this year of 2020 is to be defined, we can call it as the year of Resilience and the students have trodden through a hard year, missing all the regular traditional set up of learning, nevertheless, they have already had hands on what the future awaits for them in the form of digital business, that predominantly will hog the global economy.