Jul 20, 2020
Is tech-readiness alone enough to adopt online education?
Online education has taken the world by storm and is heralded by many as the one to stay. Schools and colleges are anxious about dealing with this ‘new’ mind-shift in the space of education.
And if you are thinking that we are having to adapt with the times, then what I’m about to tell you now will surprise you. Distance learning and online learning are both very old ideas. The first official correspondence education program, called the “Society to Encourage Home Studies”, was established in 1873. And in 1953, the “The Channel That Changes You”, ran educational material for approximately 38% of its total broadcast time. By 1989, the University of Phoenix had put together a fully online bachelor’s and master's degree. In 1996, a whole University was available online. Many of us may even remember the “on-TV” classes conducted by UGC channel during the heydays of Doordarshan.
As you can see, online education, even the kind we still use, is nearly 25 years old and the idea of distance learning, over 150 years.
So where is this thought of newness coming from?
Does it have something to do with being tech-ready? Or is there something that we are missing out? Will tech-readiness alone be the factor for educational organisations to thrive in the future or is there more? I suppose that by now you have realised that there is a magic ingredient that has always been responsible for learning organisations to adapt, build new ideas and thrive in any situation - pandemic or not.
And the magic ingredient is: Organisational Culture, explained as the values, beliefs and assumptions that organisations are guided by and the factors that decide if an organisation is accepting and adaptable to change in various situations.
Listed below are 6 aspects of HLC and Beyond 8’s organisational culture that make us feel not just hopeful but fiercely confident and excited about gracefully riding this wave of change and thriving in the new future that is ahead of us.
In these uncertain periods, our learning facilitators are not just adapting but bringing their creativity to the fore as well. All this with a “chin-up attitude”. In the pursuit of keeping the online learning experiences as rich as the on campus experience, they are leading this new bout of online learning in the most creative and enriching ways by being mindful of screen time issues and mental and emotional health of children.
Over the years, we’ve felt the need and hence, led a few initiatives (social incubations), all close to our heart & core philosophy:
Karthavyam - Our global citizenship diploma in public problem solving
Elina - Our theory and practice for creating an equitable world where everyone is included
Militvaa - Our social entrepreneurship program and our outreach program
Kognify - Our online assessment learning platform
Explorers - Our incubation that focuses on sporting integrity
and Beyond 8 - Our futuristic educational paradigm that focuses on enabling passions and listening to the learner’s voice.
Education bodies around India have now started to include entrepreneurship education (akin to Militvaa) and design thinking (Karthavyam is based on the framework of design thinking) into their curricula too.
Our alternative to schooling initiative, Beyond 8, started during this pandemic and has provided a very unique dream mapping experience for learners to voice their dreams and curate a path to follow their passions. Our thought leader for inclusion has put together a renewed, detailed and elaborate framework for including all learners. While we have been inclusive for the past 25 years, we have been constantly responding to the needs of individuals, evaluating our processes critically, learning from our mistakes and changing where change is needed. During this time, facilitators are busy upskilling by keeping their IKIGAI (the purpose that we live for) in mind.
Our learners have been raising funds, conducting awareness programs, cooking and distributing food, healing hearts through innovative artwork, all this while they continue their academic learning journey in this pandemic.
We are flooded with requests to start various new initiatives by our learners at HLC and Beyond 8. Our alumni too are constantly involved in ongoing change processes while also creating impact in the new institutions that they are a part of.
Build Social Connectedness
As philosopher Avishai Margalit says, “A big goal requires a ‘thick we’ network — a community of people who feel responsible for collaborating toward a shared purpose that they see as superseding their individual needs. Members of a community — as opposed to a simple network — expect relationships within the group to continue, and they even hold one another accountable for effort and performance.”
Lead with Compassionate Empathy
It is heartening to say that we are also offering Kognify, our online assessment learning platform free to all educational institutions that cater to the needs of the underprivileged. As a part of the Militvaa initiative we are working towards ideas that can support the schools that we have adopted, with online learning using creative ways.
By leading with compassionate empathy, we see many hands, minds and many voices willing to collaborate and participate in our endeavour of making education meaningful again.
These are by no means the only 6 ingredients needed for organisations to be adaptable to external changes, but as Chan Kim points to in his book, “The Blue Ocean Strategy”, constantly looking to create enriching experiences for everyone in the organisation’s ecosystem and actively changing without waiting for events to unfold are both needed to be able to adopt new ideas.
What do you think about the importance of organisational culture? How has it impacted you personally? Share with us on the comments below.
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