Ed-Tech will Define the New Normal for Higher Education post COVID-19

Rajiv Shah, CEO & Director, NMIMS Global Access School for Continuing EducationWith over 25 years of experience in ed-tech, Rajiv is a pioneer for the segment in India.

The Coronavirus pandemic is altering the perception around online and distance education among students, parents, and even corporates. An entire generation will be leapfrogged towards greater acceptance for e-learning. Some of the top-ranking universities are driving this paradigm shift by upholding the integrity and rigor of their online programs.

A handful of universities have built their own ed-tech platforms, most have collaborated with ed-tech players to deliver programs. These universities are consistently investing in the latest technology, designing pedagogies aligned with the industry needs, delivering enhanced personalisation, offering continuous support to students, and implementing strict evaluation and examination processes for qualitative online learning experience.

Though the Unlock phase has begun, the fate of students is in a state of ambiguity due to several concerns afflicting reopening of educational institutions. The longest stretch of suspension of classroom programs due to the lockdown could nudge students towards considering online and distance learning as alternatives for advancing their careers whilst staying indoors.

Making the Right Choice
With the government recently allowing India’s top universities to ‘automatically’ start online degree courses in a bid to promote e-learning in higher education, these top universities have opened up a plethora of opportunities for students to continue their higher education pursuits even while staying at home through their technology-supported delivery channels. Investment in cutting-edge technologies and continued support and guidance of the global network of top educators is making it possible for these higher education institutions to effectively deliver programs encompassing traditional skills like management as well as new-age and industry-relevant
skills such as analytics, digital marketing, AI & machine learning, and others through their online medium.

Tailor-made online programs are also being worked out for executives seeking to use the work-from-home opportunity to learn new skills relevant to their industry demand and future job profiles. Therefore, students, parents, and corporates are also waking up to the realisation that online education has a much larger connotation than simply transposing classroom experience to video lectures. That the most effective online programs embrace a holistic learning experience, adopt innovations and create undisrupted education delivery.

Tailor-made online programs are also being worked out for executives seeking to use the work-from-home opportunity to learn new skills relevant to their industry demand and future job profiles

Hence, it is important to choose the right learning partner who has found the right balance with academic excellence and ed-tech based learning.

Look for Balance
With a multitude of Ed-Tech options currently available for higher education, students should make a prudent choice. It can become perplexing to decide between a university of repute, their online arm or the smartest Ed-Tech player.

Students should look for an institution that has academic excellence, online delivery know-how, and rigor. It should not only have ranking and credibility but should have also made adequate investments in technology and innovation to tackle the challenges of providing a complete Ed-Tech experience. This must be supported strongly by support services, student engagement, personalised attention.

Only institutions which have been able to ace this balance and have shown deftness in moulding their academic excellence with technology expertise succeed in achieving the credibility, robustness, and widespread recognition from the students, industry and recruiters. Universities that have partnered with ed-tech players sometimes lose out on this balance and therefore their online learning experience does not match their classroom efficacy.

To Conclude
The Coronavirus crisis has triggered a significant spurt in students' affinity towards Ed-Tech channels delivering higher education as the risks with the ensuing pandemic continue. The post-COVID-19 world is likely to see an ascent towards digitisation as businesses prepare themselves to operate in distance economies. This will trigger greater demand for talent having fast-moving and new-age skills.

Students and professionals need to choose wisely and latch on to the best of such career and skill development opportunities available online. Top universities are, thus, working harder than ever before to enable students and working professionals to learn and upgrade their skills and prepare for the future through their online programs, which are equally robust and resilient as a classroom experience. In the aftermath of Coronavirus, online and Ed-Tech in all probability will mark the new normal for higher education.