Aligarh: The pandemic has compelled us to fill the gaps in the education system while shifting to online education, said Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Professor, Dr Vaishna Narang.
She was delivering the keynote address in the inaugural function of the two-day international webinar on ‘Crafting Resources for Language Pedagogy at Digital Age’ organised by the Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
“With this sudden shift away from the classroom, some are wondering whether the adoption of online learning will continue to persist post-pandemic, and how such a shift would impact the education system,” said Prof Vaishna.
She pointed out that it took almost a year to tackle the technical hurdles as Covid-19 pandemic ushered the education system into a tech-savvy path.
“The challenges were enormous and unspecified roles were realised as online classes and assessments replaced the conventional mode of teaching. It largely meant that effective ways were needed for information assimilation,” emphasised Prof Vaishna.
She added that acquisition of information and implementation of knowledge had to be done keeping in mind the social-psychological impact as we shifted to digital mode.
“The pandemic transformed the teacher-student relationship. Students and teachers no more see each other in person and managing less attentive students became quite a challenge,” said Prof Vaishna.
She further pointed out that education is now about task based pedagogy and computer assisted learning, minimising the role of teachers.
“Students are left alone with technology and teachers are not aware of their cognitive capacity. This is a time when a lot of emphasis is needed for crafting innovative resources for learners, changing syllabuses and finding more efficient ways of information sharing,” said Prof Vaishna.
Recollecting the difficult time since the initial days of the lockdown, the Chief Guest, IAS Officer, Shri Amit Khare (Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India) pointed out that one of the first challenges was to find ways of conducting examinations.
“Collecting students for exams into one room for a prolonged period was no longer considered safe. However, examinations are a critical part of the higher education process and cancelling crucial higher education examinations altogether was simply not an option,” said Shri Khare.
He added that the students from the lower economic strata were provided with adequate facilities and access to gadgets. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has also focused on imparting education in mother tongues to school students.
“Initiatives have been taken for providing virtual laboratory classes for science students,” said Shri Khare adding that the New Education Policy (NEP) has opened doors for interdisciplinary education and training of students for becoming entrepreneurs of successful start-ups.
AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor spoke about the key role of Shri Khare in framing and implementation of NEP.
In the presidential address, the Vice Chancellor said that since the Coronavirus outbreak, AMU has used the digital platform not only for successfully conducting classes, but also to get international and national scholars for useful lectures.
He pointed out that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi; the Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Shri Amit Khare (Secretary, Higher Education) have provided the country with dynamic and zestful leadership by getting the exams conducted.
Prof Mansoor said that the Department of Linguistics at AMU has produced many stalwarts and played important roles in safe guarding endangered languages such as Birhor of Jharkhand and Chinali of Himachal Pradesh.
He mentioned that the Department is also involved in interdisciplinary collaboration with IIT-Bombay in Cognitive Linguistics.
Prof Syeda Nuzhat Zeba (Dean, Faculty of Arts) said that this webinar will provide us with useful suggestions for online pedagogy and a platform for researchers and related stakeholders in the field of languages, literatures and translation.
“I am sure that the participants of this webinar will learn about projects for material development and translation across departments and institutions. They will also learn ways to make online education more flexible, offer wide selection of resources and the latest pedagogical innovations,” she added.
In the welcome address, Prof M J Warsi (Chairman, Department of Linguistics) said that the Department of Linguistics was founded by eminent linguist Prof Masud Husain Khan in 1968 and since its inception, the Department has been providing excellent teaching and indepth research in Linguistics with special reference to Urdu.
Dr Nazrin B Laskar conducted the programme and extended the vote of thanks. Dr Nasrin and Dr Abdul Aziz Khan were the organising secretaries.
The Centenary Profile of the Department of Linguistics was also released on the occasion.