Advanced Higher Education Institutes Are Using Multiple Technological Pedagogy Tools To Ensure A Seamless Online Education

Forward-looking higher education institutions preparing themselves to handle future challenges and have been able to better handle this paradigm shift.

COVID-19 has thrown many curveballs to the human world; maintaining social distance is the most challenging of all. Education sector which continues to be in a lockdown state to keep our children and youth safe also had to adopt and adapt to absolutely new ways of imparting education where the teacher and the students remain physically far removed from each other and interact only through online means.  

In March 2020, schools, colleges including higher education institutions had to make a radical shift in their knowledge imparting system when they had to switch from on-campus classes to online mode of classes almost overnight. While technology-enabled teaching has been making an appearance on the horizon for some time, it had still not been adopted as a mainstream method of education when coronavirus struck. Not all educational institutions were ready to make this overnight shift, neither with technical infrastructure nor with teacher training. 

But forward-looking higher education institutions preparing themselves to handle future challenges and have been able to better handle this paradigm shift and have coped with the shift with almost no disruption to students’ education. 

Higher education has three important aspects – Theoretical knowledge sharing, Practical hands-on experiential learning and Research.   

Imparting Theoretical Knowledge - When education went online, imparting of theoretical knowledge was the easiest aspect as it was taken care by the technical alignment and quick training of academic staff in software like Zoom Meetings, Zoom Webinars, Office 365, Microsoft Teams Google Meet and others. These easy-to-use platforms enabled faculties to quickly transition from on-campus classroom session to online lecture delivery mode. These platforms enable effective two-way communication, content sharing, high level of student engagement and also enable compliances. Some platforms allow online class recording, later available on cloud which is conveniently accessible to students for reference and recap.  

Online Experiments & Practicals - Online theoretical knowledge sharing is easier managed as compared to the all-important ‘hands-on practicals’ and lab experiments so essential for skill development. This has been one of the major differentiating aspects between forward-thinking advanced institutes and other in times of online education. Higher education institutes catering to   Built Environment sector had already on-boarded advanced technologies like Virtual Lab platforms offered by Microsoft and Amazon Web Services much before the pandemic struck and therefore, have been able to provide seamless education to their students in real terms. 

One of the key concerns of students & parents during online classes has been about students not being able to perform practical lab sessions in real-time. Making the high-end Virtual lab infrastructure available to students has taken care of this aspect as well. The Virtual lab does not need high-end hardware at the student’s end to run, even basic entry-level browser-based machines can access all features of the virtual lab. This enables faculty-led lab sessions as well as self-learning practice sessions by students. Through Virtual Labs, students of Built Environment have been getting trained in high-end software that is sought-after by the industry like Primavera P6, Autodesk suite, MS Project, Candy software, Palisade @RISK, Tilos and many more. 

Research Requirements - Higher education also needs more resources for seamless learning. Learning management software allows effective academic & student integration in terms of pre- and post- online class sessions, content availability and is a platform for conducting online tests. The LMS platform integrated with Turnitin, helps the students with their original writing/content and helps in improving their skills and promotes a culture beyond a typical ‘copy-paste’.  

Online subscription databases allow students to have access to the best of the research papers and other content from their local systems and helps them in improving their research capabilities. Access to software like Azure lab’s learning/training content makes students future-ready and helps them in learning new tools & technologies based on their interest and further helps in applying them in real-time scenarios. 

Online education can provide a similar learning experience as traditional methods, but it requires the integration of multiple technological tools. Many advanced institutes are managing the switch to online mode admirably not due to compulsions of the pandemic but because they have been implementing advanced systems for their students much before the scare of coronavirus hit us.  

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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