Dr. Seema Tatwawadi

Embracing the Changes in Higher Education | Dr. Seema Tatwawadi | Principal | Russell Square International College

Dr. Seema TatwawadiChanges and reforms are an ongoing constant and education is no exception to that. The education system has seen massive changes in last few decades and an increased use of technology is in vogue. The winds of change have blown over several sectors since the pandemic bringing about a shift in how we work and how we learn.

Although the digital movement started gaining traction in the early 21st century, it took two decades for India to realize its true potential. India was not very open to the concept of distance learning and online courses till recently. Post March 2020, digital adaptability became a necessity and online classes through Google Classroom, Microsoft Team, Cisco Webex or Zoom meeting have become the norm. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) became appealing to students and learners of various age groups. The pandemic appeared as a blessing in disguise for EduTech companies like Byju’s, Vedantu, UpGrad, UnAcademy who saw their popularity and business rising exponentially.

Technology became the real game changer for education. Application based education services contributed towards universalization of education. Higher education is no longer a privilege of the elite or the affluent class or the youth. Tech based education facilities have started offering higher education to all those who may be interested. The Govt. of India has come forward to pave the way for tech-based education facility. Initiatives like Diksha (Digital Infrastructure for school education) and Swayam (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) bear the testimony of digital push where primary, secondary and higher studies are offered seamlessly in an inexpensive form.

Interested learners from any age group can pursue courses in the fields of their interest from the comfort of their home. The digital drive has made academic processes fast, efficient, economic and user friendly. Students get the advantage of self-paced study and repeated view of the course content without any hassle. New calendars have appeared in the curriculum that abandon semesters and uniform time constraints in favour of time variable education, 24×7 course access and ‘just-in-time’ instruction. Programs awarding micro-credentials rather than degrees have expanded substantially, particularly those providing “upskilling” and “reskilling.” Technology has made education available, achievable and affordable to all.

Degrees, diplomas and certificate courses of renowned global universities have been made available for learners through platforms like edX, Coursera, Udemy etc. which doesn’t necessitate foreign travel and expensive overseas accommodation. Courses like Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Marketing are ruling the roost as skill, competency and knowledge about new technology have become essential in career advancement and employment quotient.

A few changes and trends to look out for will be:

– The learner will be more powerful as they will have a greater choice about all aspects of their own education. There will be an increase in demand for easily accessible and personalized education that fit their circumstances.

– Higher education will have to focus on the outcomes they want students to achieve and what they want them to learn – not how long they want them to be taught. Everyone has a different pace of learning and this is a choice which is available today.

– The increasing need for upskilling and reskilling caused by automation, the knowledge explosion and the pandemic have tilted the balance towards more educational programs that are closely aligned with the labour market, skill –
development and provide certificates, micro-credentials and badges – not degrees.

These are just a few trends but there are many more to look out for. We can see the changes in higher education unfold in front of our eyes and should be prepared for a more open and student-centric future of education.