Impact On Student Engagement In Universities Due To The Pandemic
Interaction between students and faculty forms an important layer in the student’s academic journey – that which shapes the student in more ways than one, enabling them to create memories that last a lifetime whilst shaping them to become better individuals.
The pandemic has most certainly left an indelible mark on various facets of higher education. Be it student intake for a new cohort; academic delivery; engagement & enrichment; international study options; or placement facilitation – all these aspects have been transformed virtually. This has its own merits, the most obvious being continuity of academic services, ensuring students do not lose valuable years in completing their education of choice. This also has its fair share of challenges making student engagement a highly creative process.
While on campus, students would be provided ample opportunities to pursue hobbies of their choice – be it sports, music or dance, students through organized events within the university and through competitions held at peer institutions, would be able to develop and hone skills leading to holistic development. On the other hand, students would also have several co-curricular activities through academic clubs to strengthen their skills in their chosen area of study. As a measure to strengthen the industry-academia interface, special lectures from chosen industry experts are organized throughout the year and company visits are planned, giving real-time exposure to students on operations. Not all these activities can be replicated virtually. While the physical medium would provide scope to assess student emotional quotient and cognitive capabilities, not much can be assessed virtually.
However, virtual platforms cannot be undermined as through augmented creativity, students can be engaged effectively. Asynchronous and synchronous enhancement of skills is feasible, enabling students to pursue courses, certifications of their choice apart from learning new languages or developing codes through online tutoring. The virtual platform also provides an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to ideate a product or a service sans geographical restriction, thereby increasing potential market reach through carefully crafted strategies. Between enrolment into a program and the course commencement, universities are offering several bridge courses and structured interactions are planned to provide students with a peek into their courses, thereby preparing them for a seamless transition. Universities owing to the pandemic, are encouraging innovation, continuous improvement among their members and this includes the student body. Engagement, therefore, is simply a measure of how the situation is being used and in what light is it being viewed – either as an opportunity to grow or as one of the darkest phases seen by mankind.
Students being made career-ready
With a choice-based curriculum being implemented, students can exercise their choice to opt for courses that they intend to make a career in. Students also have access to industry-led certification programs in various domains; virtual expert speaker sessions that provide real-time knowledge on pertinent topics; and the ability to enrol in additional certification courses both from industry and academic institutions, as part of personal development. Universities through their placement division, also organize mock sessions to enhance preparedness in selection processes. Beyond this, a very important aspect in moulding a student’s transition from campus to corporate is mentoring. Universities are collaborating with mentors from the industry who of their own volition are eager to invest their time and resources in shaping students towards a better tomorrow.
Mentoring & Its Significance
Mentoring has taken greater prominence in today’s times as there is immense competition and what truly stands out is calibre. Developing calibre is a function of applying knowledge, acquiring advanced skills; and using the expertise of a mentor who acts as a friend, philosopher, and guide.
While a mentor makes the educational journey worthwhile, the role of a mentor is not just in guiding students but providing them with relevant knowledge; helping them improve; broadening their professional networks and being a constant source of encouragement.
Universities within the structural framework internally have faculty mentors, but it is the blend of faculty and industry mentors who redefine the student learning trajectory and shape student outlook progressively to assist them in transforming as value-based citizens of the nation.
The Faculty & Student Interface
Conventional classroom-based learning is no longer the crux of holistic education. Faculty and students over a period, develop a positive bond that lasts forever. In-class lectures are not any more effective use of blackboards for conceptual clarity. Instead, it is a platform for healthy interactions between the young and the experienced, paving the way for intellectual exchanges on various topics. Additionally, students also are encouraged to question and become active knowledge seekers and not contribute as passive listeners of an ongoing lecture. The mode of delivery too, within the confines of a classroom have altered significantly. Greater emphasis is laid on the application of knowledge through case studies and focused group discussions. Also, students have an opportunity to connect with their faculty beyond scheduled classes through discussion forums. This interaction between students and faculty forms an important layer in the student’s academic journey – that which shapes the student in more ways than one, enabling them to create memories that last a lifetime whilst shaping them to become better individuals.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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