With education turning online, questions, doubts and uncertainties regarding the future trajectory of learning are doing the rounds in the academic corridors across the world. To delve deep into the issue we got in touch with Dr. Nandan Gupta, a well known education evangelist from West Bengal who shared some valuable insights for all stakeholders of education.
‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’ – is the philosophy Dr. Nandan Gupta lives his life by. He also feels that unless we do something to benefit our future generations, it is not worth doing it. An alumnus of Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission, he started schooling with Bardhaman Municipal Boys School. Later, passion for medicine and healthcare made him study medicine at NRS Medical College, following which he did his MBA from IIT Kharagpur. Eventually, after practicing medicine for seven years he decided to embark on the entrepreneurial journey and for the benefit of students in the field of medicine and engineering, started the twin institutions – Swami Vivekananda Institute at Gobindapur and the Swami Vivekanada Institute of Management and science, Sonarpur – in 2008.
Dr. Gupta had identified certain loopholes in the healthcare system of India early in life, which, he felt, needed to be addressed. “Most of the colleges and universities are losing focus. A lot of research has to be done to concretize things and to enhance knowledge in various fields. It is my belief that in 30-40 years, more and more students will be engaged in research based work. We need to put emphasis on medicine and healthcare related issues and try to involve engineers and medical students to delve deeper into the factors and find out the ways to tighten the loopholes and make the healthcare industry stronger,” shares the doctor.
Education going digital
The Pandemic has changed our ways of living and learning. With a mass switch to digitalization amidst COVID19 pandemic, the façade of education has undergone a sea change. Dr. Gupta is not in favor of online learning for long-term though. “The purpose of going to schools, attending classes and lectures is imperative, as physical classrooms, fellow learners and teachers shape a student’s personality and help in character building. If education goes online, students will have no scope of interactions; they will become unsocial, lose interest in communication and other social behaviors which in turn, will inevitably lower their emotional quotient or EQ. Online study is feasible only in case of emergencies but it can never be a permanent mode of learning,” he warns.
However, with the ongoing pandemic it is understandable that the situation is not going to get better anytime soon. Dr. Gupta agrees that the mode of education has to be changed temporarily and proposes some brilliant suggestions to make most of digital learning – “In this situation it will be better to divide the theory and practical subjects. Teachers should understand that theories are easier to teach and understood virtually but practical classes cannot be done online. Therefore most of the institutes should try to complete their theory subjects sooner and keep aside the practical classes for later, when the physical classes resume.”
“It is also important to add variation to the online module. For instance, in our university we have arranged for Swayam classes, which are online courses that give students the freedom to choose lectures from other institutes. Collaboration with other foreign universities where students can enroll for online courses of their choice and get certificates at the end of the program is another great way to add diversity in the learning process,” further prescribes the education evangelist.
Unemployment in 2020
According to the doctor, the issue of unemployment has been there for a very long time and the last 20 years data show, 5-10 percent of the population has always remained jobless. “The Universities and education councils should look into it and restructure the way of assessment in such a way that students not only build knowledge but also employability skills. Today, most of the institutes follow old syllabuses and deliver bookish knowledge leaving very little scope for practical learning. It is time for institutes to update themselves since industries prefer candidates with industry specific skills. For this, Universities can collaborate with companies for required and relevant skill training. Diversifying the curriculum is another critical aspect which universities must start implementing to make students job market ready,” he suggests.
Artificial Intelligence or AI in Education
Gone are the days when education was limited to physical classes between teachers and students. Today digitization has changed the scope of education immensely. We now have data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning and so on.
“New job opportunities are developing in these sectors as they are fast gaining importance across industry sectors. Also professionals, engineers, researchers will soon forgo their old ways of working and update themselves to adapt to the tech advancements in order to remain relevant in the new future that awaits us,” predicts Dr. Gupta.
Functionality of institutes post COVID19
The covid19 Pandemic has been a learning lesson for all of us. We have learnt a lot of things during this phase. Apart from altering our life, the pandemic has also taught us to stay positive, stay motivated and have self-belief. Dr. Gupta feels that moving forward two things will be essential. One is ‘Education for Life’ – which is important to sustain and lead a good life through a decent career. The second is ‘Education for Livelihood’ – which stresses on skill development and knowledge enhancement. Dr. Gupta has plans to focus on Emotional Quotient more than on intelligence quotient at Swami Vivekananda Institute of Science and Technology and Burdwan Institute of Management and Computer science – institutes he is associated with. This, he feels, will encourage and motivate students to become capable of facing hurdles and challenges. He is also going to start 15 different courses including drama, dance, physical activity, meditation, psychological counseling and such others to keep the students stay motivated throughout this trying time.Show quoted text