Online Platforms Will Become The Foundation On Which Edifice Of Learning Will Be Erected: Dr Anunaya Chaubey, Provost, Anant National University

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Dr Anunaya Chaubey, Provost, Anant National University, talks about the institution and more. Excerpts:

What are your strategies to cope with the impact of COVID-19 on the teaching-learning process?

Since the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown nationwide, Anant National University, Ahmedabad has employed technological platforms for uninterrupted learning. We have leveraged technology to conduct both lectures and studio courses through online platforms. The crisis has necessitated a greater focus on one-on-one interaction between students and teachers. We have adopted blended learning methods to facilitate learning.

We have also made efforts to make our pedagogy more humane, given the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has created among students. We have seen this as an opportunity to collaborate across cultures, contexts and geographies. For example, our fellowship programmes -- Anant Fellowship and the Anant Fellowship for Climate Action have participants from 10 countries belonging to cultures as diverse as Kashmir and Iran. We are trying to make the most of this opportunity to reach out to a more diverse set of people.

In the past six months, we have conducted more than fifty webinars that were viewed by five thousand people from 130 countries. These webinars were academic interventions in the fields of design thinking, architecture, sustainability, heritage, built environment and climate action.

What changes were made at the policy level?

We have adapted to the new circumstances by making our approach less rigid and more humane and created processes that make the experience of learning more sensitive and collaborative.

The pandemic has also highlighted the need for a robust technological infrastructure and we have begun using several technology enabled learning platforms that facilitate richer interaction. We have provided assistance to students with no or less access to computers and are creating a hybrid campus so that they can avail the IT infrastructure of the university.

Do you find the university prepared to fight with such a situation in the future and ensure continued learning?

The pandemic has given us the opportunity to create processes and policy frameworks that help us deal with future exigencies. During this time, we have proven that our real objective is to use our learning to make a difference in the community. The successful implementation of AnantU's COVID-19 initiatives has demonstrated our capabilities. We have proven that our training can enable our students to become solutionaries and deliver solutions to real world challenges on the ground.

What changes do you see coming into the learning pattern post-COVID-19?

In a post-Covid-19 world, teaching will be carried out in a hybrid format. It will be a mix of physical and online platforms. This will become a norm for educators across the world. The online platforms encourage collaborative learning that in effect makes the world smaller. Someone sitting in New York can academically collaborate with someone in India.

The pandemic has brought another shift in our academic discourses and the need to take action against climate change has become necessary. Students are keen to know the role they can play in the ongoing fight.

Do you think online will be the default mode for education in India? Are we ready for this transformation?

Online platforms will become the foundation on which edifice of learning will be erected. However, it is unlikely that it will replace hands-on learning. Foundational nature of online education might get progressively revealed.

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Dr Anunaya Chaubey Provost Anant National University

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