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Rote-Based Learning Needs to be Replaced by Hands-On Learning

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Vandana Mahajan, the Founder of Futures Abroad, speaks about the effects of the pandemic on the education sector and the way forward

How has the pandemic affected the education sector in the region?
The education sector has been impacted due to the pandemic as students haven’t been able to go to class in person. Online learning has been effective but has impacted the education sector in a major way. Students want in-class learning and are impacted due to a lack of impactful learning, meeting peers, and interacting with faculty members. Learning happens in the classroom with interactions on multiple levels and the pandemic has changed this norm.

What sort of opportunities do you see in the regional education sector?
Digital preparedness, preparing teachers and equipping them with online learning techniques, investing in online course content from leading global academic and trade institutions. We should treat e-learning as a supplement that leads to better outcomes, not as a substitute or replacement for classroom learning.

That means that education ministries should modernize traditional pedagogical methods by establishing national guidelines and standards for online education. School systems should provide educators with digital literacy training through media campaigns, tailored workshops, training programs, and regular e-learning forums and webinars.

Is there a digital disconnect despite tech tools being available for distance education?
Yes, there definitely is. Along with improvements to online education, governments should make long-term efforts to reduce the digital literacy gap between privileged and underprivileged children. A key factor is an access. Education ministries should ensure that all students have a laptop or equivalent electronic device to attend online classes.

As part of broader digitization agendas, governments should partner with national telecom broadband internet coverage, offer discounted rates for low-income families, and establish wifi hotspot areas with a high concentration of students. Schools can provide some classes and content through dedicated TV channels, further increasing accessibility.

Governments should ensure that all students have access to online resources. Online libraries can give students access to textbooks and other resources. Students should also have the software and tools they need for projects, along with subscriptions to leading global newspapers and magazines. For example, virtual reality programs can be critical resources that allow students to perform physical activities such as chemical experiments or sports.

How can this digital disconnect be bridged?
Governments should ensure that all students have access to online resources. Online libraries can give students access to textbooks and other resources. Students should also have the software and tools they need for projects, along with subscriptions to leading global newspapers and magazines. For example, virtual reality programs can be critical resources that allow students to perform physical activities such as chemical experiments or sports.

STEM has risen as the go-to stream of education during the pandemic. What importance does STEM have in developing the skillsets of a student?
STEM skills are more important now more than ever because it enhances one’s capacity to innovate and use technology and science as a tool to solve problems. The global health crisis is one of many areas where STEM can and will continue to step up to the plate and revolutionize industries that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. STEM skills, education, and practices influence every part of society and will play a critical role in the trajectory of America’s future in the global technology race.

The importance of STEM education is heightened in today’s day and age, where one can also see the huge gap between academia and industry demands. The pandemic and its outcome have further brought the mismatch out in the open, with a clear stamp on the skills gap. This gap needs to be filled, students need to be prepared for an ever-changing world and a process needs to be implemented which gives way to a lifetime of learning.

In other words, rote-based learning needs to be replaced by hands-on learning at the nascent stage, so that the students develop an interest in the fields at a young age and can grow up to become innovators, scientists, and engineers and can make their own choices.

Do you use solutions today to make STEM learning a seamless experience?
Global societies are becoming increasingly advanced, and technology is more embedded in our daily lives than ever before. STEM has accelerated advancement in some of the world’s most critical industries and education is one of them. I am using STEM to counsel students, host webinars, counsel them for careers and skills training.

What about the security aspects of online learning. How can that be addressed?
A risk analysis needs to be part of each project. It will cover all risks that are relevant to a project including also non-security risks. Typical non-security risks are uncertainties concerning the budget or personnel planning. To systematically analyze security risks, it is essential that a security risk analysis is performed.

Information is a central asset for universities without which faculty could neither teach nor conduct research. Nonetheless, budget and time constraints impose a limit on security-related expenditures. To wisely use the resources on security measures, it is necessary to estimate the value of the assets accurately.

Even though there are many different ways of conducting a security risk analysis, the following five steps are common to most approaches:

  • Identification of assets
  • Estimation or calculation of threats and risks
  • Setting priorities
  • Implementation of controls and countermeasures
  • Monitoring of risks and of the effectiveness of countermeasures
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