Prof. Eswaran Narasimhan, Professor - Computer Science and Engineering, NIIT University

Eswaran Narasimhan has earned his B.Tech and M.Tech at IIT Kharagpur in Agricultural and Dairy & Food Engineering respectively. After his Management studies at IIM Ahmedabad, he joined NIIT. His work was centred around student and corporate training, curriculum design and development & consulting. At NIIT Technologies his work involved algorithms and heuristics development and promoting innovation activities. He is a co-inventor for two patents in the field of software engineering.

 

COVID-19 fast-forwarded an already growing need for increased use of technology in education delivery. With recurrent lockdowns and social distancing, organizations ramped up their digital roadmap at a pace that in hindsight was truly meteoric. As schools and colleges went online overnight, adoption of existing and new technology became important for higher educational institutions as well.

The slew on newer technologies has brought with it a wave of new skills and skillsets that individuals will need going forward, and strong a foundation in digital skills has become of paramount importance. Job roles are being digitally revolutionized therefore career aspirants will need to be digitally savvy. With the pandemic turning our world into one online country, no matter what the job role is, students will need to be well-versed in these digital skills. AI, MR, and data literacy jobs will gain increased traction as time progresses. Fully remote working and hybrid working models will be the new normal over and above those jobs that still must be done in office. Jobs in software and IT, digital marketing, and financial analysis will see a huge surge. COVID-19 has added to an already increasing pace of upskilling and the demand for these skills. According to a recent report, the IT sector is the only sector which has added jobs in the recent times. It is therefore necessary for an enduring career today; it is imperative for every individual to learn to adapt and change with times to ensure they are relevant in an ever-changing dynamic world.

In the past year, higher education has faced considerable headwinds. Change came abruptly, as the pandemic demanded immediate responses and institutions had been consumed with prioritizing safety, communication, and education continuity. To meet the realities of the post-pandemic world, institutions need to shift their focus on upskilling their students to make them job ready, with technology and digital skills becoming important for every profession.

The challenges of online education are many. Online education has never been the best fit for India owing to the lack of IT support and infrastructure in rural areas. Furthermore, traditional education has been prevalent in the country for so long that students are hugely affected by the intricacies in the online system. Also, socialization, that is an important part of traditional models, is lacking in the online system of teaching and learning. Other limitations include subjects that require introspection, deep discussion and debate, that are more effectively taught in traditional settings.

Higher education institutions should keep evolving to provide complete education to students, which can then be harnessed into creating the workforce of the future. The curricula will have to be developed keeping technology as one of the key elements. This would not only mean inculcation of technology subjects in academia, but also use of technology in day-to-day activities such as online meetings, smartboards, etc. Universities should be able to switch from their traditional model of learning and provide students with a blended model that include diverse digital activates, aiding in collectively delivering effective learning. This model can incorporate innovative pedagogies and technology-based teacher-student engagement to deliver education effectively. In a nutshell, higher education institutions and the industry should work hand in hand to help students develop talents to meet the evolving needs of the workforce in a post pandemic world.

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