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Post COVID-19 There Will Definitely Be More Partial Acceptance Of Online Platforms For Learning: Dr Y P Kosta

In an exclusive chat with BW Education, Dr Y P Kosta, Vice-Chancellor, Marwadi University, spoke about the institution and more.

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

We have implemented multiple strategies to cope with the ongoing impact of COVID-19. In the short term it was imperative that we speedily connect, broadcast and offer the digital modes of education to all MU students and update parents on corrective action being taken to ensure there is minimum disruption to classes. We took steps to appraise, publish and broadcast academic timetable, education delivery platforms and technologies, generate ID’s and share passwords, e-Labs, e-Trainings, Attendance, Q&A, Evaluation - mechanisms, methods and metrics and Placement and internships in individual students portfolio of MU. 

It was also imperative to initiate the digital-orientation program immediately – digital-mode education trial-run for teacher-student acquaintances, offer and release all relevant learning materials via a digital repository with online access to all departments. All of this was done via an inhouse created mobile application. We also offered elaborate e-lab platform for experimenting, skilling, and designing – increase total number of license software copies of subject-speciality-software’s, alongside tie-ups for extended learning opportunities and experiences. A collaborative alignment with parallel education delivery platforms like Swayam, Coursera, and other strategic knowledge organizations was also executed. We undertook the task of complete digitalization of library resources, increased count of tablets, and networking with knowledge repositories and journals subscriptions with access through inhouse developed mobile-app and internet – e-books, INFLIBNET, Scopus,  etc; alongside carry-home tablets – with more than 200 books and teaching materials loaded for ready references and learning. Early strategic Liaison and collaboration with industries and technical recruiters for opportunities in training, projects, and placements – strategies and mechanisms. Creation of multiple teaching-learning and practice material sets with free cross-referencing instruments like YouTube videos, websites, knowledge databases, etc.  

What kind of changes were made at the policy level?  

There are a number of policy-level changes which we feel should be implemented as soon as possible in order to tackle the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on education delivery models. We feel there will now be a fundamental shift in the way education delivery will be executed for the foreseeable future at least until a vaccine is developed. This means it will be necessary to mandate the adoption of technology at all levels which may require mandating a digital-orientation-program for students and teachers for minimum basic digital competence. Policy changes will need to be completely reimagined as from a digital perspective ensuring delivery and evaluation competencies in teaching-learning.  

Another important point is to allow Transferable Credit-Options with strategic partner institutions and universities, with well-defined definitions for certifications, diplomas, and degrees to be awarded by partner institutions and universities.  

There are a myriad of other focus areas which should also be addressed considering the changing dynamics of the education sector and learning as a whole.  

  1. Graduation and credit-earned life-cycle and options 

  1. 20 per cent of the courses offered online with online examination. 

  1. e-placements initiatives and strategies (25% students min.) – jobs, project-training, skilling and entrepreneurial-linkages. 

  1. e-student and e-diploma, e-degree and e-research programs 

  1. Development of e-infrastructure and e-resources 

  1. E-student and e-admissions – a maximum of 25 per cent of the seats to be increased and reserved for students willing to receive complete education under the online mode.

How do you plan to strengthen placement and internship opportunities post lockdown? 

Marwadi University (MU) has a large accumulating database of companies, third-party recruiters, active networked and partner institutions, a growing list of alma-mater, active alumni website, highly responsive social media and public presence, and an interactive university website to connect and communicate. This live and growing ecosystem helps to thread and source early information and timely position the university to strategically connect and communicate to desirous students and prepare them for various requirements such as recruitment process, internships, projects, visits and other scientific and social activities. 

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

Post COVID-19 there will definitely be a more partial acceptance of online platforms for learning. Over time, especially UG students – those graduating will gravitate towards in-campus learning, as it offers superior experiences (active-learning), interactions, and opportunities to evolve, develop and grow. Further collapsing everything under online will be 'just-too-boring', especially, for young energetic and enthusiastic youth. Total online shift isn’t a truly workable solution for effective learning and is more supplemental for faculties to ensure effective transfer of knowledge. We envision working professionals and socio-economics to indefinitely drive the options for the part-time programs through the online mode of learning - especially PG programs. PhD programs may witness a major shift towards the online mode of learning – as most take to employment after PG. More aggressive universities under the umbrella of collaboration with knowledge organizations will offer a slice of education with flexibility in terms of programs and courses, expanding the admission portfolio by adding and reserving a portion of the admissions to students willing to pursue education under the online mode as an e-student. 

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

The COVID-19 phenomenon has inevitably pushed and demonstrated the fact that many elements of learning and evaluation is possible through the online mode. Governments and organizations have responded and acknowledged education received through the digital mode, for example, MOOCs. In fact, the GOI has declared and mandated through the Swayam Prabha initiative that a student can earn course credit to the maximum extent of 20 per cent in the online mode. Therefore, majority of the institutions, across the country and globe, have demonstrated preparedness to offer education through the digital portals using multiple digital technologies to students worldwide. However, the quality of education delivered and the evaluation mechanisms employed will get better only with time, as the teacher and institution gain more experiences leading to mastery and creativity. Online mode has the ability to penetrate the masses, irrespective of physical boundaries and offer a more cost-effective education preferentially, however, it has its own limitations and cannot be compared to the value and effectiveness of established institutions. The ultimate winners will be institutions that offer quality, agility, flexibility, creativity, consistency, taking into account evolving paradigms. 



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