The World of Education is Currently Going Through a Radical Change, Says Silky Jain Marwah

Marwah spoke to us about navigating the pandemic, adapting to online learning and the post-pandemic outlook for the higher education sector

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Silky Jain Marwah, Executive Director & Head – Corporate Relations, Tula’s Institute, is a self-starter and an achiever.  Marwah was recently conferred the ‘Academic Excellence Award 2020 at ‘India’s Top 20 Women Leaders in Education 2020’ and she spoke to us about navigating the pandemic, adapting to online learning and the post-pandemic outlook for the higher education sector.
Edited excerpts:

What are the long-term objectives that you have planned for your esteemed institute?

Knowledge is increasingly recognised as the main force behind economic growth and development in the context of the global economy and thus we at Tula’s Institute have always aimed at giving an identity to our students and keeping the happiness factor a priority. All the courses conducted at Tula’s make sure to keep the students happy on campus.

We at Tula’s feel that if a person is content, his/her capacity to deliver becomes much higher. Additionally, we also pay a lot of attention towards extra-curricular activities along with the academics which boosts students’ confidence and enhance their interpersonal skills. All of these factors allow students to get placed in reputed firms or become a successful entrepreneur. We strive to excel by creating and developing world-class professionals, promoting innovation and research.

We aim to promote intellectual and skilled human capital generating employment and entrepreneurship and become an educational centre of excellence of multi-ethnicity and diversity.

What operational challenges have you faced during the pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic upended the whole education process. Not only did the college campus shift to remote learning, but also got affected with grave financial challenges. The disruption to the education calendar caused by the pandemic created many challenges. The first and foremost challenge that we faced was to evacuate the hostel and send the students safely back to their hometown by arranging for their transportation.

Another obstacle was figuring out how the college year would continue while ensuring the safety of students, faculty and staff while complying with state-mandated closures. The lockdown also brought with it a new system for educational institutions: an online work environment. Even though many college employees have had the ability to periodically work from home, most began to consistently work in this manner for the first time.

As most of our faculty was based outstation and didn’t have access to proper equipment to facilitate smooth teaching, so we provided them with laptops and systems to carry on with classes effectively.

What is your experience with online teaching platforms?

It has been a challenge considering that the curriculum was planned for classroom learning but with the sudden arrival of the pandemic, it has been shifted towards online education. Initially, we started with video conferencing platforms such as Zoom etc, but that didn’t work out well and therefore we came up with our own technical cloud solution which allowed students to attend lectures at their own ease.

They were able to access their lectures as and when they had a proper internet connection, automatic attendance was also being marked through this app and similarly, the online examinations were also conducted. Some students did not have access to the internet, so it was difficult to get in touch with such students who required help to access the internet. It was necessary to create routines and support to deal with the use of online teaching. Overall, this sudden switch to 100% online teaching was challenging equally for both teachers and students.

What are some of the community partnerships you have led this year?

Amid the pandemic, Tula’s Institute collaborated with the ICT Academy to create the next generation talent pool. This collaboration focused on faculty development, skill development, entrepreneurship development, youth empowerment, research and publications, digital empowerment, and industry-institute interaction.

The college also established Corporate Partnerships with Oracle Academy, AWS Educate and Palo Alto Networks. Tula’s firmly believes that higher education has a public mission that encompasses both serving today’s local communities and creating the leaders of tomorrow.

How did you ensure digital classes have had a positive impact on students while attending classes?

Digital classes have changed the face of the education system for quite some time now. Today, it is an essential feature, and the desired tool, in the broader horizon of higher education. The flexible and interactive nature of digital classes makes it really helpful in career advancement, increasing the employability of students and making faculty members braced up to work in the digital age.

Currently, the world of education is going through quite a radical change. To ensure that digital classes create a positive impact on students, it’s very crucial to provide them with the right knowledge and apt tools at the grass-root level and make them tech-savvy.

What is the post-pandemic outlook for the higher education sector?

The coronavirus pandemic came like a shock that fastened the digital adoption across the global higher education sector and leads to what has been outlined as the largest trial in quick digital transformation. The pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise because of the digitalisation of education, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise so soon.

Post-pandemic, the education sector in India has become much more aware of the digitalisation and now from teachers to students, everybody is digitally sound. The rapid shift to digital classes has impacted the overall educational experience. There is a chance for colleges to set a standard on what a high-quality online model can look like.

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