Mohandas Pai
Schoolchildren need to be with their peers and must learn communication skills in social setups as well, Pai said. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: The future of education is e-learning and companies will have to train employees in the use of technologies and learning new skills, a group of top educationists said at the first India Global Forum in Dubai on Monday.

Speaking at the session titled “Byteing the Learning Curve”, T.V Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education, said “digital education is an insanely beneficial experience”.

However, he added, that blended education is the way forward for schoolchildren as they need to be with their peers and must learn communication skills (in social setups) as well.

As far as college education goes, he supported a new education policy in India under which students may get the opportunity and flexibility to learn from multiple universities in India and overseas.

With enormous work coming to the market and the competition going global, companies will need to ensure continuous training of their employees, Pai observed.

“The main challenge before the companies would be to train the people (employees) on the use of new technology on a continuous basis,” said the former CFO and board member at Infosys.

While looking into the future of education, Kamal Puri, founder and chairman, Skyline University College, said “one is what you learn on the campus, second is internship and third is technology”.

According to Puri, e-learning will define the future of education and there will be a platform at a later stage where the global education standards will be set up.

“If you don’t update (your skills) on a daily basis, you can’t face the current (job market),” said Puri.

He said people have got a very wrong notion about e-learning.

“E-learning is where we have discussion rooms, assignments and all aspects of teaching,” he clarified.

Talking about how e-learning is shaping the world, Saranjit Sangar, CEO - upGrad EMEA, said: “Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that we are finding it difficult to keep up with it. That is why we find a widening gap of skill sets in different communities.”

“Nearly 25 per cent of jobs today did not exist earlier. Almost 65 per cent of students in school today will get into jobs that do not exist today.“

Commenting on her organisation making e-learning accessible, affordable and relevant, Sangar added: “We update our content constantly, we look at targeting age groups between 18-56, focus on deep, personalised learning with personalised outcomes.”

Importance of STEM

Talking about the importance of STEM, Sangar reiterated that its role could not be over-emphasised.

“According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022 nearly 75 million jobs will be lost while 132 million new jobs will be created online. So there is a need to upskill on STEM. However, we are humans and humanity and arts (have) an equally important role to play for sustainability and ethics.

Commenting on the challenges of e-learning, Sangar said India was heralding a new era of global tech leadership. “I think there are a lot of synergies that we are exporting worldwide. But the challenges we face come from infrastructure, teaching and new outcomes.”

Benefits of hybrid learning

Eileen Pryer, director of Marketing, Admissions and International Recruitment, University College Birmingham UK, believes it makes sense to mix e-learning with conventional education, particularly during the pandemic.

University College used virtual reality and advanced simulation to ensure that nurses could continue learning in a hospital-like environment, said Pryer.

Through this, “nurses can actually train, but also we can ensure that the standard they’re being trained by is moderated and assessed by hospitals”, she added.