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Covid-19 and three takeaways for Indian education sector

The pandemic has not only taught students the importance of building resilience but also made them learn the art of quick decision-making in an unpredictable world.

Dr R.L. Raina

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Students celebrate their success after the Class X results of Bihar School Examination Board were declared, in Patna. ANI

Within a matter of a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the education landscape across the world. These modifications, which we never thought would be implemented so soon, until such a huge global health crisis presented a roadmap on how education could change for the better — or the worse — in the long term.

As the coronavirus spread like wildfire across Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States, several countries quickly decided to arrest the increase of a full-blown pandemic through announcement of immediate lockdown and since then there have been multiple announcements regarding the education landscape. As of 13 March, the OECD estimated that over 421 million children are affected due to school closures announced or implemented in 39 countries.

These risk-control decisions have paved the way for alternative innovative modes of education, be it home-schooling or online classes, especially in most heavily-affected countries. All these innovations during these unprecedented times of crisis made a lasting impact on the trajectory of learning innovation and digitisation. As relaxations have now been imposed by many governments, we have to see how these models of education will help as the educational institutions are going to resume their classroom education once again soon.

Surprising innovations

People have been lamenting about traditional education being slow-paced as we have been following the centuries-old lecture-based approaches in outdated classrooms. But Covid-19 became the catalyst for change in our educational institutes as now we have become open to online education in a short span of time.

To help cease the virus’ spread, students started home learning in early March until the educational institutes took the decision of phone learning, followed by online learning through video conferencing. Now, students began leveraging online learning right from serious learning to other subjects like physical education and music. Students have been shooting their videos and sending to their teachers as “homework”.

With high-speed technology becoming more prevalent, we have been witnessing learners and solution providers truly embracing the “learning anywhere, anytime” concept of digital education in a range of formats. Now, as the education institutes are going to resume their in-person classroom soon, learning will be more fun as it complemented with new learning modalities — from live broadcasts to “educational influencers” to virtual reality experiences.

Public-private partnerships

 In just a couple of months, we have witnessed learning consortiums and coalitions taking shape, with diverse stakeholders — including governments, publishers, education professionals, technology providers, and telecom network operators — coming together to utilise digital platforms as a temporary solution to the crisis. In emerging countries where education has predominantly been provided by the government, this could become a prevalent and consequential trend to future education.

 In many educational institutes, they are planning to develop a new cloudbased, online learning and broadcasting platform as well as to upgrade a suite of education infrastructure. Through examples like these, it is quite clear that our educational innovation is receiving attention beyond the typical government-funded or non-profitbacked social project.

In the past decade, we have already seen far greater interest, and investment, coming from the private sector in education solutions and innovation. From Microsoft and Google in the US to Samsung in Korea to Tencent, Ping An, and Alibaba in China, corporations are awakening to the strategic imperative of an educated populace.

While most of these initiatives have been limited in scope, and relatively isolated, the pandemic has actually paved the way for much larger-scale, cross-industry coalitions to be formed around a common educational goal.

Narrowing the digital divide

As schools in affected areas have been finding innovative solutions to continue teaching, the quality of teaching largely depends on the quality of digital access. Not only video conferencing through Zoom call helped the students and teachers, students also learnt through WhatsApp messaging and email, especially in the rural areas.

This unprecedented time of Covid-19 has taught students the importance of building resilience to face such uncalled for threats and came out victorious. It also made them learn the need of quick decision-making, creative problem solving and adaptability in an unpredictable world.

The writer is Vice Chancellor, JK Lakshmipat University

Educationally Speaking

HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE

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Hiring activity in India rose by 24% in September 2020 as compared to August 2020, as seen in the Naukri JobSpeak Index. At 1755, the job index marked a great improvement of 24% in September as against 1413 in August after the sharp drop in April 2020 due to Covid-19. “The last quarter has seen significant uptick in the hiring activity, growing at 14% compared to 8% decline in AMJ’ 20. While the hiring is yet to touch last year levels and is down by 23% in Sept’20 versus Sept’19 but this is also a marked recovery from a 35%-60% decline that we have witnessed in the last few months,” Pawan Goyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com The 24% M-O-M growth is being propelled by industries like Pharma (+44%), FMCG (+43%), Education/Teaching (+41%) and IT (+32%). Further opening up of the economy with unlock measures and increased mobility has led to an improvement in hiring activities in industries like Real Estate (+44%), Auto/Ancillary (+29%) and Hospitality/Travel (+48%) versus August’20.

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Educationally Speaking

‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’

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The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow schools in different states to reopen from 15 October depending on the state government’s decision, but as per a study by SP Robotics Works from last month named ‘Kids under Covid’, 78% parents are ready to skip a school year, but not ready to send their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sudden transition to online learning and prolonged screen time with no outdoor play and limited social interaction, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown on children’s mental and physical health remains dubious. To arrive at the insights of this survey, SP Robotic Works conducted a survey over the month of July and August among 3600 parents and an equal number of children in the age group of 7-17 years

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Educationally Speaking

ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW

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Indian Army has invited applications for SSC Officer posts. Candidates who are interested can apply at joinindianarmy.nic.in. The number of positions vacant positions is 191 posts. Candidates can apply till November 12, 2020. Unmarried male and unmarried female engineering graduates, final-year engineering students can apply. The course will start in April 2021 at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Opening date of application is 14 October, 202, while closing date of application is 12 November 2020. Candidates will be put through two-stage selection procedure. Those who clear Stage-1 will go to Stage-2. Those who fail in Stage-1 will be returned on the same day.

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Educationally Speaking

JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED

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Jamia Hamdard has extended the last date to fill and submit the online admission form to 25 October. Earlier, the last date of application form 2020 submission was 20 September. Candidates who wish to take admissions to UG and PG courses offered by the university can fill the Jamia Hamdard application form 2020 till the new extended deadline. Candidates must note that they also have to upload their qualifying examination mark sheet while filling the application form. Students who have passed class 12th exam can apply for its UG courses while those having a bachelor’s degree can apply for its PG courses. Aspirants can apply for admission to the university online at jamiahamdard.edu. This year, the admission process has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The admission form submission deadline was extended as there were many students who were seeking admissions in engineering and diploma courses but were not able to fill out the forms timely

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Educationally Speaking

EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the newly built Golden Jubilee Building of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, on Tuesday through a virtual platform. Speaking at the occasion he said that NIT Rourkela is a premier institution of our country and has been producing the best brains for the country. The newly constructed NIT Rourkela building is a symbol of the varsity’s prestige. Pokhriyal said that institutions like NIT Rourkela have a very important role to play in the implementation of the New Educational Policies (NEP). The minister also added the building amplifies the glory of Rourkela city as it is one of the tallest buildings around. The magnificent structure is indeed metaphorically and geographically, ‘the heart of NIT Rourkela’, added Pokhriyal. The minister also highlighted that the vision of having this building will fulfill one of the essential mottos of the Institute to enhance efficiency in the administrative functioning and amalgamate technology with this process to make it more people-friendly.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

Narendra Shyamsukha

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The Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organisations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As most people still stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted, there has been a shift to a space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organisations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organisations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive as compared to those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship are adjusting the “new normal”:

THE AGE OF WEBINARS

As live conferences and face to face engagement activities take a backset, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

INCREASED USAGE OF DATA ANALYTICS

In a digital age, data analytics has always been a valuable proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organisations now need to create valuable databases, analyse them and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking pattern of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analysing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be totally promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

The writer is founder & chairman, ICA Edu Skills.

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