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Do we still require brick and mortar schools/universities?

With the evolution of technology, the mode of teaching and its delivery has to be re-defined and re-oriented. We have discovered more efficient ways of teaching with the development of learning sciences. Also, we need to constantly figure out and identify improved outcomes with the application of technology on education. A more tailored and well-defined approach to tech application in education will lead to creative disruption.

There are plenty of opportunities and challenges in this field. With no signs of COVID being eradicated anytime soon, there are serious challenges we are currently facing: How to deliver education in this COVID era? Can everything be taught online? If all subjects can be delivered online, do we still require an offline mode of education? And finally. Do we still require a physical school or university?

The factors in favour of online teaching are fewer resources spent on arranging the classes, less number of teachers required, focused attention to every child, can be customised to suit every child needs, target groups based on the learning levels and many more. And the resources required to make this possible is very minimal too from both the institute and parents/guardians sides. The teaching institute may not be needed to have any physical presence in the form of schools. Many resources are involved in making the schools run. Imagine all of a sudden, you may not require such a big industry running. The institutes require to only develop good software and courses to engage the students and they need a very lean workforce to make this possible. The resources that need to be revamped by the parents/guardians of students for the online classes are a laptop with a good internet connection and space where the student can sit isolated environment without getting distracted by the happenings around his/her. If these necessities are fulfilled the online class can go as smoothly.

The factors that can prove difficult to online classes are: physical classes still instil a sense of routine and seriousness to the education, many subjects like arts, crafts, PE (sports), robotics may prove to be difficult to teach since they require more involvement and curiosity from the student’s side to learn. Another problem is to monitor the progress of the students. These challenges need some serious thought and innovative ideas. Like say: sometimes one to one (teacher: student ratio) mode of teaching instead of one teacher to many students can address the issue of students needing engagement with a difficult subject. If these challenges can be addressed or an alternative can be found to engage the minds, we can’t fully make the education online.

To remain relevant and valuable in today’s rapidly advancing world, learning needs to take place not only in the classroom but at every stage of life. So only restricting with education from the schools should not be focused. School and universities still have their own merits. Till the time we have not found to address the challenges, we can’t say that a physical school or university is not required for education. But due to COVID scenario, has also made us look beyond the traditional ways of learning. There is a thin lining separating the mode of learning. But one thing is certain: we learn 24×7. A new equilibrium needs to be found where both online and offline mode of teaching goes simultaneously.

—Sourabh—

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