Both in-person and digital models of education are here to stay | Sunil Kataria

Sunil Kataria, Senior Manager – IT, Ashoka University outlines the future focus of education.

What are your functions in managing the IT programs of your institute?
I am working in the capacity of Senior Manager in the IT department.I am involved in designing and reviewing IT policies, taking care of AWS and Azure cloud infrastructure, and guiding the software development team who develops applications for the university.

How are digital technologies helping you manage the current situation? It is very difficult to think about continuing the academics without the help of technology. The best thing we had was our LMS which was in place when pandemic started. We integrated web conferencing solutions like Zoom and Google Meet and was in a very comfortable situation to continue the academic session. We consider technology as an important aspect of the modern education system and because we were focused on improving the system. We managed the situation very well.
With the impact of COVID19 expected to last for quite some time, what sort of digital models for education would finally emerge and stabilize? One thing is very clear, that education through online means will only grow in the future. Some academic streams like Humanities and IT can entirely be taught remotely provided digital infrastructure and literacy go up in rural area. Till then the Just in time education I mean the courses where hands on labs and personal guidance are required still needs in-person approach. In my view both the in-person and digital models are here to stay in the future.

What would be the operating procedures of this model for different stakeholders in the education ecosystem and what would be the possible business model?

Parents : Digital literacy has to be improved for the parents so they can support their kids from an early age, It is not just about learning how to use the digital gadgets but learning how they can be used efficiently and securely.

Students : Students have to change their mindset. They have to develop sense of acceptance of knowledge when they are taught through the digital way.

Institutions and faculty : Institution builders now have to focus more on building digital infrastructure for their campuses, educating faculty members about the technology.

The pandemic provided an opportunity to the institutions where they can focus more on teaching more and more students which were previously restricted by the physical size of the classroom.

What are your key takeaways in terms of digital transformation of organizations?

With digital transformation initiated willingly or unwillingly in the Covid-19 era, the COVID situation increased the focus on technology. Digital Security is the hot topic and more and more people will enter this sector. There will be shift in the mindset of the Investment in digital platform will be increased in the organizations. The changes are expected to drive innovation and growth throughout higher education and some of the institutions who invest in the technology platform will emerge as the leader in respect to increasing number of enrollments and increased revenue.

In a more digital education model, how would you ensure the security aspect?

To make the online space safe for students, digital Education / Awareness to Faculty and Parents are necessary, they should learn how to recognize trusted digital resources and this information should be passed to the students. Phishing and cyberbullying is on the rise, education institution needs to learn how to stop and prevent their stockholders from being victim of these issues. They need to invest and set up infrastructure for the safety and security of digital resources.

With education in India being mass spread, how would you ensure its affordability to students from all economic strata especially in the current situation?

Digital is the best way of spreading knowledge to each and every person of the society, weaker section of society do not have access to devices which are required for the learning. Education intuitions and societies has to come forward to help here in setting up small clusters of digital station where students can attend live as well as recorded sessions. Also it is an opportunity for the left out section of the society where they can get quality learning from well-known teachers as they became affordable in digital space.

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