Businesses and institutions across the country are shut to limit the spread of covid-19. From the automobile industry to the aviation sector, companies across the world are suffering because of the impact of the pandemic.
Among the worst hit is education. Schools and colleges across India and in most parts of the world are already shut. Disruption to education may not seem like one of our immediate big concerns like lack of food and other essential goods and services, but it is certainly something that will soon be.
Fortunately, we are living in a time when there is a sustainable way to address this challenge. Migrating our education infrastructure to a predominantly online model is the inevitable need of the hour.
Making education impervious to frequent external disruptions will be a wise investment in the future of our country and the world. This will happen only if it is backed by political will, which, in turn, will create the necessary economic and social conditions to enable it at the grassroots level.
Having said that, there is nothing to be achieved by dissecting the past and asking why we haven’t done this already. After all, this is not just about the investment or even technology for that matter, but a 180-degree shift in mindset.
I believe the government will invest in this shift to online education if other stakeholders in the education ecosystem ask for it. We are seeing the impact of disruption that covid-19 has had on education. It is time to initiate the big migration, which is mainstreaming online education that will gradually replace the offline model we have been using for the past seven decades.
I completely understand that this is easier said than done. Without any more delay we have to invest (not just financially) in four important aspects. They include content, pedagogy, learning science and delivery.
In other words, the shift will be in using technologies and medium, like gaming, emphasizing more on how to make teaching more impactful, which will be measured by the outcome and how do we address the challenge of scaling, that is, the delivery aspect.
This migration, though, now forced by a global pandemic, can also be seen as an opportunity to make education much more effective.
For instance, the delivery mechanism of education can be customized to suit students categorized into buckets based on their learning capabilities.
Investments, whether public or private, will not be a big concern when the online migration is backed by the government. If at all anything, this will throw open a whole new world of opportunities that will attract the right kind of money since we will be investing in the future of our country.