- While digital platforms have ensured that learning continues uninterrupted, it does have some limitations. Attention spans and engagement levels with the learning material dwindle with increasing screen time. To keep learners engaged and interactive throughout the training, Shilpa Subramaniam from the Learning Gym, offers a few ideas, such as, creating breakout rooms for small group interactions, allowing people to respond in different ways, and not just verbally
- Sidharth Das, the founder of edutech company, Univ.ai, stresses on the importance of ‘high quality intervention for productive learning’. Solving for interaction, but also solving for long term learning is the approach Siddharth recommends to online educators and tech platform providers.
- Karen Crooke, the Primary Principal of Stonehill International School in Bangalore, describes the immediate aftermath of the lockdown as overwhelming for the teaching faculty as well as parents. Three groups of people – teachers, parents and learners – worked together to decide the new structures of schooling.
The inputs gathered in this article were provided by Shilpa Subramaniam, Siddharth Das and Karen Crooke as part of the Swiss Digital Days initiative, organised by swissnex India.
The onset of Covid-19 has radically transformed many facets of human life, learning spaces being one of them. The shift from offline to online mode of training has compelled educators and digital platform providers to quickly adapt to the demands of the new environment and innovate solutions to make this environment conducive to the needs of the learners.
Existing learning platforms have been refurbished with new tools, and new platforms have emerged. A conversation with three practitioners of online teaching / training revealed a great deal about the thought process that went into place in the creation of such platforms in the lockdown period and their take-aways from the experience.
Shilpa Subramaniam from The Learning Gym, a talent and personnel management specialist, talks about asking the relevant questions before setting out to design spaces for learning –
1) what do you intend to achieve through the digital program
2) how much time do you have to achieve it?, and
3) what type of technology are you going to use: low tech (whatsapp), medium tech (zoom) or high tech (other apps and learning platforms)?.
These, according to Shilpa, are some of the critical questions that need to be addressed to create spaces that truly provide value to the learners.
While digital platforms have ensured that learning continues uninterrupted, it does have some limitations. Virtual interactions cannot sufficiently make up for the lack of real time interactions and peer learning opportunities. Attention spans and engagement levels with the learning material dwindle with increasing screen time.
To keep learners engaged and interactive throughout the training, Shilpa offers a few ideas, such as, creating breakout rooms for small group interactions, allowing people to respond in different ways, and not just verbally (writing on the screen or in the chat box), and allocating time for internal reflection individually.
Sidharth Das, the founder of edtech company, Univ.AI, brings a different perspective to the challenges of creating virtual learning spaces. He stresses on the importance of ‘high quality intervention for productive learning’.
A recent LinkedIn survey revealed that nearly 63% of professionals have enrolled in courses for reskilling and upskilling during Covid-19. Edtech startups in India are witnessing a steady rise in the traffic to their websites, with an 88% increase in the download of edtech apps.
In this scenario of increasing demand and rapid consumption of online learning programs, one can understand why Siddharth stresses on the importance of productive learning.
Siddharth’s company, Univ.AI, is an online alternative to the world’s top institutions such as Harvard and UCLA for AI and Data Science education. They are often faced with a shortage of highly qualified teaching professionals to conduct their training programs. Allocating scarce resources in a live interactive format to lots of people over sustained periods of time becomes a challenge.
To retain productivity and quality, Siddhart recommends designing shorter periods of learning (3 months at the most). As Siddhart puts it, “dividing learning into small segments and parcelling it out again and again” is the ideal solution to this problem, allowing learners to consume it as per their convenience. This approach is increasingly finding more takers worldwide.
Solving for interaction, but also solving for long term learning is the approach Siddharth recommends to online educators and tech platform providers.
The closing of schools and colleges in the wake of the pandemic lockdown affected nearly 285 million young learners in India. Educators were compelled to devise new structures of teaching and assessment to continue the education of their students.
Karen Crooke, the Primary Principal of Stonehill International School in Bangalore, describes the immediate aftermath of the lockdown as overwhelming for the teaching faculty as well as parents. Three groups of people – teachers, parents and learners – worked together to decide the new structures of schooling. Some of the challenges that arose were unforeseen, such as the education of children whose parents have low tech skills. Members of the school community collaborated to make the process smoother for such learners and their families.
Others were foreseen, such as the impact of the absence of peer learning and interactions. The school explored measures to compensate for the lack of personal interaction through activities that fostered collaboration between the children.
However, the dependence on digital learning spaces also produced many positive outcomes. The IT skills of young learners grew exponentially. They were able to do things now that they were unable to do before. Teachers perceived a heightened level of curiosity, deeper thinking, expression of meaning in a number of modalities, and visible thinking routines among the students.
As the old adage goes, from adversity is born innovation. Educators worldwide have been attempting to reinvent the tools and methods used for imparting knowledge even before the onset of the pandemic. The pandemic, however, has hastened the process significantly. The insights gathered from the three experts shows us that many radical changes in education are underway. In the post-pandemic world, learning could happen from anywhere. The notion of one (physical) place for learning is going to become obsolete. So is the view that virtual education is “the second best option” to traditional classroom learning. The core structure of education, that has seen very few changes in the past 100 years or so, might finally undergo the transformation that is long overdue, making learning a more productive, engaging and meaningful experience for all.
To gain more insights from the experts, watch the full video –