THE Covid-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes and impacted economies worldwide. The private education sector isn’t spared.
Now, the biggest challenge is for varsities to swiftly put into place new strategies to generate income and maintain a delicate balance of restructuring to become leaner in their operations while upholding their key propositions. Here are some key strategies to consider:
> University-industry collaborationUniversity-industry collaboration has long been established but there are opportunities for these collaborations to be further strengthened. A win-win method would be to increase the duration of internships with SMEs. This ensures long-term manpower supply for the industry and offers students the space to gain and improve their skills.
In February, the government announced a Covid-19 Emergency Economic Stimulus Package with an allocation of RM100mil to aid affected businesses. This includes provisions to improve the digital skills of employees and funding for short courses. Varsities can develop related programmes as a new source of revenue.
> On-demand learningThe pandemic has accelerated reliance on technology. Hence, the emergence of terms such as emergency pedagogies and pandemic pedagogy, or emergency remote teaching. Lecturers today are grappling to look for the most reliable, accessible and user-friendly platforms for their classroom to ensure learning continuity.
It is imperative that in choosing platforms and alternative teaching methods, we remember that students are central to the learning process.
As such, increasing accessibility to synchronous and asynchronous on-demand learning is vital. Universities having invested vast amounts in their ICT infrastructure, must now optimise their use of these facilities to develop innovative online teaching skills and maintain a high quality of education.
Universities need to transition from emergency remote teaching to quality online learning. With course material content developed and maintained online, over dependency on physical presence of students and staff will be reduced. This enables lifelong learning.
> Curriculum content reformsWe must acknowledge that knowledge is easily acquired with the availability of multiple resource points today. It is a fallacy that students should be taught everything. We must now carefully prioritise and divide content into ‘must know’ knowledge, ‘should know’ knowledge and ‘nice to know’ knowledge.
Educators are not in a position to ‘over-educate’, but to be more prudent in their selection of content within the curriculum.
This will then lead to the transformation of the classroom into an arena for discussions, collaboration and critical thinking while imparting knowledge and personalising teaching and learning for the student.
Educators need to change their mindset by realising that teaching is not tantamount to learning. Learning will have to be redesigned with refined purposes and only then will we be prepared and equipped to navigate the current global situation successfully.
Liberal Arts and Humanities Department Head
School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Taylor’s University
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