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Article series: Still Online: Higher Education in India

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Summary

This new series of articles on Confluence examines how online education in India evolved during the coronavirus pandemic.

Full Article

Eighteen months ago, two of us (SB  and RR) curated a discussion on Confluence on the immediate reactions of academics and students to the shift to online education as a consequence of the COVID 19 pandemic. We now bring the reaction of a few of the original contributors, as well as some others, on the continuing saga of online education, focusing on how things have changed on the ground, in the attitudes of the teachers, and in the attitudes of the students to online education as a norm.

 

The earlier call resulted in some twenty articles that covered different aspects of the pandemic-induced move to online education. These have been collected as an e-book, Higher Education Going Online: The Challenges in India by  Sujin Babu and Ram Ramaswamy. (We refer to this book as HEGO).  Rereading these articles, we realise that in the past two years (give or take) the Indian education system has not coped that well with the coronavirus pandemic. There has been little effort to understand the difficulties that students and teachers have with this medium, and indeed the establishment has, for the most part, not reacted with the kind of sensitivity that is called for. We are all inured to the situation, and have learned to make the most of it, but it is a fact that learning outcomes have been seriously affected in the past two years, and what this holds for the future is difficult to foretell.

 

The introduction of the National Education Policy 2020 in the middle of the pandemic year, with little debate and even less analysis has been a major challenge. Not only did one have to cope with a changed medium of instruction,  one also had to incorporate structural changes that were imposed from the top, as opposed to those that might have developed organically. The future of higher education in India, given the scale of the social, political and economic changes that have occurred in the past several months, is therefore quite uncertain.

 

Technology is playing a large role in the post-corona period in all disciplines, but it’s inadequacies are also evident, especially in disciplines where experiment and practice are important.  Online education cannot replace traditional methods, not by a long shot, at least in this avatar.

 

The articles in this series are thus, in some sense, a more considered response to the move to online education in India. They should,  properly, be read with the earlier volume, HEGO, to have a “before” and “after” (or maybe “during”) view of how we have all adapted and evolved as a consequence of the pandemic, at least in the area of higher education.

 

Articles in the series:

  1. The online teaching experience at higher levels: teachers struggling to make sense of it by Jyotsna Jha
  2. An obituary for online classes: some reflections by Renny Thomas
  3. Online teaching during the pandemic: some personal reflections by Anuja Agrawal
  4. Teaching in pandemic times – A personal reflection by Theyiesinuo Keditsu
  5. Teaching and caring by Sundar Sarukkai
  6. Pandemic Learning: How do we make it (all) count? by Usha Raman
  7. The impact of virtual labs during the pandemic period by Venkatesh Choppella and Ravi Shankar Pillutla
  8. Educated by the pandemic by Venu Narayan
  9. Pandemic and pedagogy by Sashi Kumar

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