Agarwal is the Founder & CEO at TagHive, a Samsung Ventures funded company based in South Korea and with operations in India. His mission is to transform classroom learning with Class Saathi – an affordable clicker solution to drive engagement and participation in classrooms. Mr. Agarwal is an inventor on over 50 international patents and was selected as one of the Top 10 Innovators in India in 2017 by MIT Technology Review and Mint.
For years, educators have been fighting to make a change in the system by rallying for more tech incorporated teaching learning experiences. It may have taken the pandemic to bring about this change, however, better late than never!
E-learning pods, online learning bubbles, virtual classrooms have all somehow become the keywords emerging from the education sector over the pandemic and chances are, these words are here to stay. Before we speak extensively about the benefits of this transformative learning experience, let us understand the fundamentals of these concepts.
Though these concepts may have gained popularity very recently, many alternative education systems have taught classes over the internet for years. It is only now that virtual classrooms have gained the token of normalcy and it is important to look at it as a possible long term solution as well. Let us understand why!
The onset of the pandemic challenged the status quo in the education sector – policy makers in the system were forced to reconsider the relevance of their methods and introduce more structures that supported fluid learning. What followed was a change in syllabus and revision of curriculum to incorporate elements that supported the transition from traditional schooling to online learning.
This change initiated a domino effect – students had to adapt, learn and organise themselves in order to sustain their education. Contrary to popular belief, this change has been extremely beneficial for students in plenty of ways.
To begin with, students do not have to spend hours scribbling notes and assignments. That itself is a big leap in the right direction. Paying attention in online classes means encouraging students to give up dictated and redundant writing exercises. Students are expected to make their own notes and review all the literature corresponding to the concepts taught. This teaches students how to be independent learners from a very young age.
Secondly, students are encouraged to access all portals of information instead of restricting it to the four virtual walls of their classroom. We have moved away from a system that taught students to be suspicious of the internet to one that is legitimizing its use. This move opens up so many avenues for students to learn from. Children are naturally curious and once they get the hang of things, they find themselves looking to know more. In this way, students are taught to appreciate their curiosities and enrich it with additional learning. The idea that learning can happen only in strict, orchestrated classroom environments is thus dismantled.
Online learning bubbles also made great strides in involving all types of learners whether they are visual learners, aural learners, read and write learners, you name it. Teachers in this system are forced to use the most creative and efficient practises to keep up with the change in system and what this has done is that it has provided students with diverse learning styles an opportunity to be fully included. Online teaching now involves the use of more videos, pictures, charts and other digital teaching tools that have increased engagement and interest in students world over. Research suggests that standardised teaching experiences impact only a small group of learners and as such, it is beyond redundant to cater only to these students.
Lastly, online learning has facilitated a major attitude change in the system as students are no longer taught with the aim of preparing them for exams. The agenda has now shifted to one that maximises learning outcomes through the extensive use of projects and assignments. This is a major win for the student population of the world since now they can learn to simply learn without buckling under the pressure of examinations.
Having said all that, it is important to keep in mind that nobody has perfected this system and it will be sometime before we get there. Excessive screen times are a challenge and having a teacher instruct only virtually opens up the avenue for truant behaviour. However, the benefits outweigh the challenges and this method has laid the foundation for students to be more self composed and self driven in their learning.
All the points discussed above are instrumental in making students more independent and accountable to their learning. Starting a movement to suggest that education is not restricted to the four walls of a classroom only encourages students to go seek information from all avenues that they can access. Learning is now seen as and taught as a global experience with students forced to think out of the box and leverage study tools that go beyond their prescribed textbooks.