This pandemic has made all industries and educational institutes across the world adopt work from home arrangements. Many institutions are conducting online courses and examinations where submissions are taken through e-mail or other online media. For many institutions this transition was smooth and some are still struggling. Among others, one of the main issues is internet connectivity. For developing countries, this can be a good opportunity to improve the internet connectivity. If we talk about India, rural areas are getting less internet connectivity then urban areas. The government has done good work in village development. Nowadays mostly every village has electricity for 24 hours. Now, this is the time for every village and town to be digitally connected for better interaction between the students and teachers.
This system is very new to faculties and students. Some of the students easily adapt to this system and some take longer to familiarize themselves with this system. In India, many institutions need to establish a good infrastructure for online education like some of the developed countries. The biggest benefit of such a system is education can become global. Advanced institutes can start online education on a global level. Other institutions can start on a national level.
For online teaching, fundamental changes need to be done in the course to conduct it well as not every course is the same. Many courses need different approaches to teach. Many different streams need different treatment for the subject. Skill development along with design thinking should be part of the syllabus in Design degree programs. This will improve the hands-on skills of students as it is crucial to execute their ideas. This will create a balance between online and traditional teaching methods. Online education does not mean without laboratory experience to students. Skill development needs laboratories/workshops. There could be collaborations between institutions across the countries to support skill development activities. On the research front, it is all collaboration. Projects need to be designed through collaboration so that laboratory/research facilities could be shared. Design firms and other industries should play a leading role in this new educational system.
For online teaching, the onus lies with the faculty and infrastructure. Faculties play the most important role in such a system. Faculties need to be motivated and actively involved in curriculum integration. Faculties need to change their ordinary teaching methods and adapt to evolving technology-centered teaching. The faculty should set themselves as skilled individuals who can deliver what the students expect. Institutes are turning into virtual institutes and students house turning into his institute. This will decrease the demand for the traditional infrastructure of the institute. However, study labs should function as usual to support research and to understand the subject practically. Collaboration with industry and design firms can go online and can be internationalized.
Higher education in India needs to be more global, more flexible, innovative and open for more collaboration. Now new methods need to be introduced. In the initial stage, there are challenges but Universities/institutes can provide online teaching with traditional hands-on work. After the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to change the higher education system. Institutes/ universities could use this opportunity to reconstruct it. Curriculum design, collaborations, skill development and faculty engagement —all should focus on broadening higher education.
Pritam Singh, Assistant Professor, Textile & Knit Design, School of Fashion 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.