The Present and Future of Education: How COVID-19 is changing the ways of learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected every sphere of our lives to a large extent. For students, ways of learning itself have been completely changed by shifting into an entirely digital mode. The digital classroom concept was not poplurised earlier; now, it is being hailed as a new normal. But what are the other changes that have accompanied the pandemic in our ways of learning? Let us find out.

The most recent data from the National Student Clearing House, which analyses data from 3.6 million students from 629 colleges, indicates that undergraduate college enrolment is down 2.5%. In the United States, students are especially reluctant to pay a huge sum as fees for a four-year degree which might not give a good outcome. But at the same time there is an increase in the enrolment for courses like MBA. “At Columbia, for example, applications rose by more than 18% to nearly 7,000 — an increase of more than 1,000, or 18.6%. That blows away the school record of 6,188 set in 2016-2017,” according to the NSCH data. Not only that but there is a surge in focussing on attaining digital/job-oriented skills such as using data effectively and people have started investing more on self-taught courses, MOOCs, and online upskilling. This indicates that there is a shift towards practical education like vocational training.

The second change that the pandemic has brought about is the emergence of the concept of blended learning. There is a rising consensus that combining in-person and online experiences can enhance the university experience. Accelerated learning but a loss of time due to traveling, ability to access materials at any time, binge-learn topics they find interesting are some of the reasons stated for this. Focussing on multiple skills at a time and the practice of collaborative learning is also a brownie point in this regard.

Another change that may be well noticed is the redefining of educators’ role wherein it no longer conforms to the stereotypical image of an instructor imparting wisdom to the students. it has more or less moved to the role of a facilitator and has also led to them exploring the suite of technological tools to create content for students’ remote learning. Although these might be thought of as a temporary change the pandemic has brought about, it cannot be entirely discarded that way. The chances are high that people are adapting to this method more and more. The change is being welcomed by a large number of people, of course leaving aside another section of the society in countries like India where access to the techniques as mentioned earlier is not quite feasible yet.

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