Dr. Wilfred Walter Noronha, Principal & Trustee of St. Peter’s School, Panchgani
Artificial Intelligence if used by educators effectively, could create a whole new generation that will take us into a future we haven’t yet imagined.Dr. Wilfred Noronha
Future of education has been immensely affected by the ongoing digitization of everything the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed upon the world. With schools closing down and moving exclusively to remote learning, teachers as well as parents and students, have found themselves working in completely new circumstances.
To make sense of where the world of education is headed, it is first important to identify the trends that were already emerging before the pandemic hit.
The digitalization of learning was already progressing at a good speed, particularly in the field of higher education, however, the situation now has ensured that unless we innovate and adapt to the available online technology, we will be left far behind in the pursuit of imparting good education. Ever since the turn of the millennium, the amount of open online courses, as well as remote degrees, have become common offerings of many top universities as well as public and private educational institutions. There have been several initiatives to use technology to make learning more effective. The increasing feasibility of remote education has also started changing the role of physical space in education, creating more pressure to design new kinds of learning environments that are flexible, adaptable, and suitable for a multitude of different uses at the same time.
For students themselves, the impacts of the pandemic depend more on the level of education and – unfortunately – socio-economical standing. It is reported that half of the students currently out of school did not have a working computer. Even out of those who do, many don’t have an internet connection, conditions, or resilience to keep up the routine, and parents either unwilling or unable to help. Mobile phones are being used for this purpose.
For young children, the situation is worse. While digital solutions can be used for learning, they are not as suitable for pedagogy and certainly cannot replace the presence of a human teacher in a structured school environment. If we were able to foresee the future of education, we would be looking at a hybrid model combining both digital and physical elements in education for the ages and levels where the pedagogic aspect is vital.
The re-thinking of examination methods has also been a theme in higher education. Instead of hundreds of students completing their exams in an exam hall, many are now being tested via online open-book exams. There are numerous benefits to this. Not only is writing on a computer quicker, but the practice of referencing materials to support knowledge is arguably a more relevant skill than a memory test. All-in-all it is a shift that was waiting to happen; Covid-19 only hastened it and so we need to look at the brighter side of what we gained due to the Coronavirus pandemic. “The complete education system will evolve and create an opportunity for a teacher-student partnership with the school institution playing the role of the facilitator rather than be the hub of all that happened there until now.”