The traditional way of teaching-learning has to undergo a paradigm shift and there, the concept of outcome based education becomes bigger and more relevant, said Prof. (Dr.) Deependra Kumar Jha, Vice Chancellor of Adamas University, Kolkata while addressing the the VCs’ round-table on ‘Higher Education post COVID-19’, a webinar hosted by ABP Education on May 30.
Prof. Jha began his talk saying that 2020 is the year of the COVID- 19 crisis and it will be remembered in the history of higher education as a year of radical innovations. “Whether we accept it or not, technology is a part of our life and education cannot be an exception. This is a new phase where you know digital learning will be a new normal and where accessibility and quality of higher education will be the key focus now onwards,” he said.
“Access to Internet and Technology to my understanding is going to be a fundamental right. It’s only a matter of time because everything when it gets dependent on technology or say information technology it has to be a fundamental right. The way we define literacy is going to change now. Tech literacy or say IT literacy is going to be a new definition of literacy. So unless you are IT literate, you will not be called literate in true sense,” said Prof. Jha.
While talking about Outcome Based Education (OBE), Prof. Jha said, “it has many solutions. If we follow the spirit of outcome based education it emphasizes more on the learning outcomes that are more important. Modes are not important – whether it is online offline or what you use is immaterial if the paradigm shift happens from teaching to learning.”
Lot of teachers are actually focused or almost obsessed with the way they teach. Probably they would have been successful in the past, but with the changes in society a diverse profile of higher education students, the evolving need of employers and the role of technology are instructional.
There are three things that we actually think when we impart education – content, pedagogy and assessment. If we elaborate it one by one, the content part – most of the universities have failed to actually change the way the content would have changed in the last two or three decades. Whatever we used to teach or we used to have as content in say probably late 90s — now, things have changed so dramatically.
The effective generation change has happened in less than five years because of the advent of information technology. If we think that the content in education will continue to be valid and relevant over the last three decades and just a cosmetic change will do, then I think we have made a mistake. Things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, things like blockchain, cyber forensics, crypto-currency – these are actually the need of the hour.
Researchers actually have indicated that in the next 10 years, there are a lot of skill sets that we are going to require. I mean the new generation will require it. Half of them are even not known yet. We are actually hesitant in making changes when something we are in control is confronted with. I think there is a whole lot of paradigm shift required. I would say a lot of things are changing and we cannot just say that we are immune. So, I think content is extremely important and that it needs to undergo a change.
The next is Pedagogy – In traditional teaching we take pleasure in the physical classroom, the smell of that chalk and the white boards. If you see digital, things like SWAYAM portal and Coursera and other things were already there. Now since we are forced to actually implement some of these, we panic. Online education has a lot of things… It includes a sequence of materials that include videos, readings, sketches, quizzes, projects, it’s actually asynchronous learning.
For the same length of class, same time, a teacher would have been imparted education in a normal physical classroom. But, we have just gone to a different room and other platform and we are calling it online in education. This is not online education, this is partly true. So I think the element of asynchronous learning has to be there. A lot of things you know in pedagogical innovation have to be there.
Even in the assessment part, I would say what are we assessing actually? Now the idea is our students should actually know how to make an instrument. I mean ultimately that’s the idea. They need to know the principles and ultimately come up with the instrument. If we test students through pen and paper based tests and say probably you know we fail them just because they could not memorize certain principles and could not write it – is it the right way?
If the same person invents or comes up with an instrument which is working fine I would say that he should get actual full marks for that because that’s what the learning outcome was anticipated. I think the learning outcome anticipation is actually more important than actually framing everything into a pen and paper based traditional way of assessment.
I think everything that we include, all three aspects – content, pedagogy and assessment… I think a continuous improvement strategy needs to be in place. What we require is innovation and that’s the key. You keep innovating in every aspect of education that we impart. Teachers need to actually unlearn some of the things that they are obsessed with and thought were so great… probably they are no longer in use or probably they have lost its relevance with passage of time.
I think the continuous learning approach has to be inculcated and it has to be internalized by the teachers than the students. From a simple source of information that the teacher used to be, the transformation has to be to a source of inspiration. I think the transformation of teachers is important and the role of institutions is also important here. The role of the institution is to acknowledge and encourage our faculty members for this continuous improvement.
Prof. Jha said that resilience is another key point. He said: “One needs to be resilient as an institution or as an individual. If plan A fails, what can we do as plan B? We saw that when COVID-19 came, it was almost like a disruption. But, I think more important is how quickly the majority of the institutions could actually transform to some extent to this online mode of learning. One thing I would like to mention is that no institution can actually impart education to any student which is going to last for 35 or 40 years of their active life. This is not going to happen because things have been changing so fast in five years.”
“What we need to do is actually we need to inculcate this notion of lifelong learning in our students through different projects, through different ways, through research-based study. I think the traditional way of teaching-learning has to undergo a paradigm shift and there the concept of outcome based education becomes bigger and more relevant,” he added.
The author is Vice Chancellor of Adamas University, Kolkata.