Living a Speculation

The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and on 11 February 2020, WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19. Though all this was going on it really did not matter to people in India until the following news broke,

“India recorded its second fatality from Covid-19 — a 69-year-old woman in Delhi — on Friday, while the number of infections rose to 81.”

“The WHO on Friday said Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, excluding China.”

“It’s a lockdown, no time for games.”
– Times of India, 14th March 2020 (headlines)

Suddenly everything was shut, panic everywhere, classes were suspended and students were asked to go back home to safety. India came to a standstill with husbands, dads, moms, sons and daughters who had travelled for work to other cities all stuck where they were. Mass home confinement directives including stay at home, quarantine and isolation created a psychosocial havoc in the minds of the people. People have had numerous emotional outcomes, including stress, irritability, depression, fear, confusion, insomnia, anger, boredom, frustration, some of which persisted even after the lockdown was partially eased. Amidst this purposefully structured chaos, the education sector has worked tirelessly to keep going and going at the best pace possible.

Time and management of time has been a huge challenge during this period of lockdown. There is no clear demarcation between work and home time as responsibilities have overlapped. The sudden congruence of these two otherwise parallel timelines in each one’s life has either gone on to create disruption or has given an opportunity to bond with the family. Amidst this disorder there has been a struggle to keep teaching and learning in the education sector going. The idea of work from home for design educators has been especially taxing due to constant reviews with students which had been the earlier norm. The timing of these sessions and the other home responsibilities that arise as the educator is at his home are day to day challenges of work from home. It is imperative that one can demarcate timings for activities – both work and home – to function in tandem. Timings for home and family can be woven along with work and other work related responsibilities for better time management.

The new norm and the virtual platform for teaching and learning have posed challenges beyond connectivity and other basic issues. The practice and method of education needs to go through a huge paradigm shift to adapt to the new reality. Educators and learners have struggled to adapt an established model based on physical classrooms to the online platform. Unfortunately, it has been quite taxing. We are still in the era where technology is a tool and not yet an active participant in the field of education. Hence, there is a need for students to be educated on how to manage their time and learn independently on a virtual platform and also for educators to understand how to teach effectively through this platform. The method of education on a virtual platform needs to understand how fact and information can be shared and gathered; further to which, have meaningful, constructive and engaging conversations on this gathered information which shall crystalize as knowledge. The method needs to be able to dissect the ‘recipe part’ and the ‘process part’ of skill development. The recipe part can be shared as information but the process part could be discussed in groups and refined. The above could be some directions on how online education for skills based courses could be simplified till a readily accessible platform based on AI and AR/VR comes into play.

The reaction of the students during the start of the Speculative design studio last semester still echoes-
Why speculative design?
What is the use of this studio?
Why do interior designers need to learn how to speculate?

From these questions that were posed just 5 months back, it looks like we have come a long way into ‘living a speculation’.

Hariesh K Sankaran, Associate Director, School of Interior Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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