Flip lecture mode is the way to go: Prof. Rajesh Khanna, President, NIIT University

At the Dataquest T-Schools Higher Education Conference and Awards 2021 event, Prof. Rajesh Khanna, President, NIIT University, also spoke about the education policy in new normal.

It is imperative that the new set of doers and thinkers are wiser than the present generation. Education is the chosen method, and happens everywhere, all the time. We are here to talk about formal education. Society is shaping formal education. 

The biggest challenge is that we need to realize that one method of education — informal — and formal, and provide enough resistance from turning into a vicious cycle, than any benevolent one. The course correction lies with both the society and education system. Each one should help the other. Formal and informal education should also help each other.

Technical education provides the tools for the sustenance of the civilization. It does through one or both approaches — practice- or research-based higher education. A system connecting the present with the next generation has been found to be the best way to achieve this. It has been the best one, and has worked well. Technological developments were gradually being implemented. They were also meant to increase the dimensions of interaction. There can be multimedia interaction, with slides and presentations, voice, and movies. A richer interaction is possible. It also facilitated the availability of content.

The major technological developments were focused on increasing the dimensions, enhancing the senses, removal of barriers and constraints, and easy facility of content. Technology integration was taking place at steady pace. Some other research was going on, such as cognizant, and how the mind functions and learns, and teaching interactions. It aided the change and technological integration.

Pandemic disrupted everything!
Two years ago, the pandemic struck and disrupted everything! It forced a furious pace of change. The world reacted swiftly and effectively. Almost all formal education, everywhere, was converted to the online mode. An ecosystem to facilitate all this also developed quickly. People contributed by adopting that change. Data, device, content, and even policy, were put in place. The education system somehow managed to function. Policies were quickly changed in colleges to allow students to graduate in time, and also carry on with their learning. They need to understand the digital world, before they can be effective, and even sustain.

There were major fallouts. Technology got integrated into the education system. The challenge that remains is the unprecedented integration of technology into education. It has happened along the width. However, it has still not gone to the depth that is required for a good, functioning, and effective education system. The width was covered very well. The depth still has challenges. Also, online education is not enough to empower.

The component of societal and personal experience is missing from the online education. Next, there is only so much that can be experienced online. The domain of knowledge dictates how much can be understood and experienced, or taught online. We need to question how to go about it. The teaching and learning process is not complete in the online world. There is no solution, as we need to have inperson interaction. We need a hybrid world of both online and inperson.

Technology integration brought about the online education. Inperson interactions bring in the other part. This balance depends on many different issues, and will be solved at different levels. There is no right answer regarding the balance. Physical engineering and chemical engineering require inperson education. You need to deal with matter and materials. You need to see how they behave and look at all the properties. To imagine that these can be shown through videos, that process does not work. You need to see all that in person and experience them. There are associated laboratory experiments, as well. They would need strong inperson component. That is happening today. The labs are the most important, and are considered first.

Time for flip lectures?
Computer science and engineering includes AI/ML, cyber security, sensors, IIoT, etc. They can perhaps be taught online, and here, technology can be very useful. A higher percentage of online component will be there. Then, we see the situation on the ground. The availability of data, device, and content, and specio-temporal constraints of teachers and participants, etc., are there. This balance between online and offline can even percolate below. We also hear of flip lectures today, where the typical hybrid nature of education will come into play. There is an inperson interaction, with hybrid mode.

While the domain itself can be taught online, the teaching itself is an issue to be solved. That needs an inperson interaction. The brain responds to different cues in face-to-face interactions during the teaching-learning process. While we can have lot of content in the multimedia mode, to complete that, we will need inperson lectures. Flip lectures are perhaps, the way to go.

A flip lecture mode where every learning session is hybrid — is the way to go. The mechanics of teaching-learning process cannot be overlooked. There will also be an online mode where students and participants have access to recorded things. There will also be a series of inperson or hybrid interactions. Mechanics of learning is the major driving force.

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