Post-Covid education all about retraining teachers, hybrid learning: Academicians

The impact of technology on education, however, is yet to be assessed, whether it will turn out to be a revolution or a complete failure: Academicians.

Post-Covid education all about retraining teachers, hybrid learning: Academicians Representative image
Press Trust of India | Apr 3, 2022 - 4:32 p.m. IST
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Kolkata: The manner in which teachers are trained to get the most out of newer learning methods and a judicious blend of digital and classroom teaching will shape the future of education in the post-Covid era, feel noted academicians and experts. The impact of technology on education, however, is yet to be assessed, whether it will turn out to be a revolution or a complete failure, they said.

"The social purpose of education was brought to the forefront due to the pandemic, though the imprint of digitisation on education is yet to be learning skills are still patchy," said Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director-East & North East, British Council. Online learning gained prominence across the world, as the pandemic and recurrent lockdowns made physical classes almost redundant for much of 2020 and 2021.

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But, as academic institutions slowly but surely begin to reopen, students, teachers and parents are faced with a million-dollar question – how learning would take shape in the post-Covid scenario, educators said at the recent Education East Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

"There have been problems with the mix of online and offline methods since Covid struck...but teachers should be retrained to focus on some key areas, more so in the aftermath of the pandemic – create analytical minds and encourage non-linear thinking so that our students are skilled enough to adapt to changes taking place around them," former IIT professor and Padma Shri awardee Ajoy Kumar Ray told PTI.

According to Bratati Bhattacharyya, secretary general of Shikshayatan Foundation, faculty training has become necessary at every level after the pandemic. "With the advent of online learning, the attention span of students is on the decline, and teachers need training to make academic content engaging to hold their attention during the limited time period. Developing thinking skills among students is another challenge for tutors," she said.

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A recent report by UNESCO's International Commission on the Futures of Education argues that digital technology that enables communication, collaboration and learning across distance is a formidable tool, not a panacea but a source of innovation and expanded potential. The capacity to initiate, experiment and innovate that has been unleashed during the pandemic disruptions must be allowed to continue, it said.

"It is an illusion to think that online learning is the way forward for it is clear that nothing can substitute collaboration between teachers, whose function is not to apply ready-made technologies or pre-prepared didactics, but to fully assume their role as knowledge enablers and pedagogic guides," the report, which talks about education in the post-Covid world, said.

"We can expect to increasingly have hybrid forms of teaching and learning, in different spaces, inside and outside the school, at different times, synchronous and asynchronous, using a multiplicity of means and methods," it added. The need of the hour is blending digital and classroom teaching, and bridging the technological divide, feels Ujjwal K Chowdhury, Adviser and Professor at Daffodil International University, Dhaka. Future classrooms need to be experimental and visually expressive, he said.

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"I feel the notion of competition needs to give way to collaboration and co-creation. Tests on knowledge and memory should now be replaced with evaluation of attitude, aptitude and application," Chowdhury told PTI virtually on the sidelines of the CII summit. Students, meanwhile, are excited to get back to their familiar school and college buildings, the fun, frolic and banter.

They are equally curious to experience the integration of 'old and new normal'. "The new mode of learning, which took me some time getting used to, has its share of advantages and shortcomings...but perhaps, the saddest thing for me was missing out on college life due to the COVID-19 curbs. I am glad to be back to my college in all its brick-and-mortar glory," said Devdeep Dasgupta, a third-year undergraduate student at the Institute of Engineering and Management, Kolkata.

It is no different for little Pratyusha Chatterjee, a Class 5 student of Gokhale Memorial Girls' School, who can't wait to meet her friends after two years. "My school reopens tomorrow and I am simply thrilled," she said with a big smile.

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