Academics IN PANDEMIC

‘Online education presents both challenges and opportunities’

The Tribune Interview: It brought out the true potential of both faculty members and students, says BBK DAV principal Pushpinder Walia

‘Online education presents both challenges and opportunities’

Dr Pushpinder Walia, Principal, BBK DAV College for Women

BBK DAV College for Women is the only women college in the city that is being run by a private institution. The college was founded in 1967 and is a multi-faculty institution that aims to blend professional and vocational education with traditional courses. It runs an illustrious sports programme and is the alma mater of two international cyclists — Elangbam Choaba Devi and Sushikala Durgaprasad Agashe — and international Kayaking player Komal Bisht. Among its other noted alumni include comedy artiste Bharti Singh, actors Sonia Mann and Tania.

In an interview with Neha Saini, principal Pushpinder Walia says during the pandemic, the college has realised the true potential of its faculty as well as students. Excerpts…

The college is conducting online exams for exit classes under GNDU guidelines. This is the first time that exams are being conducted via a virtual mode. What challenges are you facing in the exercise?

As we know that the sanctity of our education system lies in examinations, so it is important to conduct exams for exit courses, as they have a direct impact on a student’s career. Of course, it is a challenge to undertake online exams in this rush for such a large number of students. But we have tried to streamline as much as possible. We have formed several teams of faculty including a trouble shooting team that is set to help any student who faces any problem during or after the exam. We send question papers to students 15 minutes before the start of exam and we double check the papers for any irregularity. Once students finish the exam, they email the answer sheets in a PDF format which we get printed and send for evaluation. The area that we are looking to work on is reaching out to private candidates and students facing accessibility problems.

The current pandemic has put a sudden pressure on faculty as well as students as the education system has shifted to the online mode. How are you, as an institution, coping with the stress?

It is true that the shift towards online teaching was a forced one and not voluntary. So, the initial response was slow and had many gaps. But as we got the hang of things, I feel, it brought out the true potential of both faculty members and students. Many of our teachers developed new skill sets and so did the students. The initial anxiety among the students has also now faded and they are more confident and have adapted to the change.

How has the online admission process of the college been? Have you introduced any new course that is related to the ‘new normal’?

Initially, due to stress among students and the prevailing uncertainty, the process of online admissions was very slow. But now that the students have settled in and faculty is equipped to conduct online classes, we have added five more skill-oriented courses to our academic itinerary. These courses have been approved by the UGC. Keeping in mind the acute shortage of healthcare workers in the country that was felt during the pandemic, we have started courses in hospital management and healthcare resources; diet and nutrition counseling and retail management.

What is your prediction of the future of higher education in the post pandemic-world?

This sudden change in our individual as well as institutional existence has radically changed our perceptions about things. In education, though I feel there is no substitute for classroom teaching, virtual classrooms have opened up a whole new set of possibilities. For instance, webinars have become more effective, crisp and engaging. It allows maximum participation sans any limitation. As far as technology is concerned, it has only now proved its true potential as a tool of learning and education. And this is what the future is going to be.

Tribune Shorts


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