The world after Covid

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The teaching- learning process needs an overhaul

By: Zainab ul Nisa

The Covid pandemic has brought drastic changes to human lives across the globe during past more than two years. Some of them are good, but some are bad, or at least not that good.

Take for instance the digital transformation. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we saw how things changed from one’s rushing for office every morning to conveniently working from home; from half-heartedly leaving for school to attending online classes while sitting in bed. This offline to online transition has impacted the entire lifestyle of the people, with both its merits and demerits.

However, it is certain that if these changes continue to happen, which it certainly will —as the experts say the world will remain in Hybrid mode even if the pandemic goes away presently; humankind will very soon be controlled completely by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The idea of AI taking over the traditional way of working is not new. In fact,  the experts have been predicting the change for a long time. However, nobody had thought that the beginning of the change would be that swift. The outbreak of the Covid pandemic has accelerated the change with rising human dependency on information technology —gadgets and the internet.

Since the change has been occurring throughout the globe at a fast pace, the experts worldwide have started debating whether the present education system will be relevant in the future, even in near future, or not. The young generation, which is overwhelmed by the information and rote memorization in schools, would be frustrated in their adulthood as they would find themselves irrelevant in the era of Algorithms. As they say that with the enhancement and the development of AI, the nature of jobs would be changed to a large extent in the coming era.

Time is not far when many present jobs would be a matter of the past and simultaneously new and novel jobs would be created. Self-controlled cars, for example, have already been introduced to the world. With the passage of time they will take over the humanly driven vehicles, and thus there would be no need for the drivers anymore. The same fate would be of some other professions as well. For instance, they say there would be no need or at least less need for lawyers in the world in the future. A lawyer’s job basically is based on his or her efforts to prove or disprove something in the court of law. But the AI, when it would be at its best, will enable humans to digitize records and evidence for everything they do in their personal and social lives, and there will be zero chances of deceit and distortion in a machine-driven world.  Thus there would be no need for a lawyer to help prove or disprove the facts in front of a judge. Digital records will speak for themselves. Digitization of the records will make the investigation process easier, and the algorithms would be fairer than the human interventions.

Similarly, doctors are more likely to be replaced by robots, which would be more accurate in terms of testing, diagnosing, and then prescribing medicines to an ailing person. Just a blood sample of a patient would be enough for a machine to ascertain even the hidden diseases in a human body.  More importantly, the machines backed by the AI would be, unlike a physician, updating continuously.

These are just some small examples to say how the world is progressing in terms of AI and making human intelligence unemployable simultaneously. In this changing scenario, experts have started emphasizing that the time has come to make young students market ready to deal with the upcoming world. That is why the developed countries have already started teaching kids about the things like coding and algorithms, and so on.

For some, the above-mentioned example might sound more fictional and less realistic. Well, predictions about every forthcoming invention sounded fictional for a lot of people, yet nothing stopped new and novel things from getting invented. The saying goes, “if Henry ford asked the world what they wanted, it would’ve been a faster horse.” The invention of the car was not a realistic idea until it happened?

Therefore, we must understand that the experts who are predicting a new world, which would be run by AI, are not exaggerating.

In this scenario, the million-dollar question should be:  is our young generation prepared to take over? The answer is a big NO. That’s because our institutions are still practicing the traditional way of teaching, i.e.; either rote or unnecessary informative learning. As we know none of these methods work outside the examination hall. In the digital era, there’s no requirement to provide information to students, as they can look it up on platforms like Google if they need it. And, there is no fun in spending precious time memorizing the information, which otherwise is always just a click away and on our fingertips.

What’s important is ‘Specialization’. Students must be specialized in their respective fields that they are inclined to work in when growing up. Why is a student being forced to study mathematics up to the age of 16 to 18, if his aim is to become a sociologist? It’s just an example. Yeah, providing the basic knowledge of mathematics is okay. But this could be taught to students in the first three years of schooling. How and why is it important for a student to study eight to nine subjects for 16 years when all he or she has to pursue is only one?

In fact, this traditional mechanism of teaching is not only distracting but also unfair. By doing so the institutions are playing with the future of generations. In developed countries, students are allowed to study only the particular for 10 to 12 years, eventually; they are much more indulged and specialized in their fields.

But, in our educations system, students become ‘jack of all, master of none. We must understand if specialization doesn’t take over, then our generations are going to badly collide.

Last but not least, instead of focusing on dates and calculations, we must ensure our students are provided with moral education. All degrees go in vain if an individual doesn’t have ethics and etiquettes. Institutions should be strict when it comes to teaching discipline, values, morals, ethics, punctuality, and so on to a student.  It all comes under personality development, which should be above all.

With the government’s decision to throw open the educational institutions post-Covid era, this is the right time to shift from the traditional way as Hybrid education is in favor of both the students as well as teachers. Some research shows that on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is mostly due to the students being able to learn faster online; students engaged in e-learning require 40-60% less time to absorb a concept than they do in a traditional classroom setting.

Hence, with the right access to the technology and intelligent use of AI, one can prosper enormous benefits.

(The writer is a student of class 12th)

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