Published: 02nd March 2021
Pioneer of online education says India has significant potential to include more students in online platforms
Professor Crow enlightened the audience, including students and faculty, on how online higher education is becoming the need of the hour
Professor Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University (ASU), was the keynote speaker at FICCI Higher Education Summit 2021. During the interactive session on 'Online Higher Education: Changing Imperatives', on day two of the summit, Professor Crow spoke about similarities between India and the United States, and highlighted how Indian universities have the potential to become inclusive institutions like ASU.
Professor Crow is known as the pioneer of online education. Much before the pandemic forced schools and universities to move online, Professor Crow had created a tech-enhanced learning environment at ASU. His decision to begin offering classes online came from the realization that many students with potential were not able to get the opportunity to pursue higher education. He wanted to include a more diverse group of students cutting across culture, socioeconomic status, and nationality. Online education presented a new path to achieve that goal.
'Both India and the United States have large and diverse groups of students who want to attend college but are unable to for different reasons. We tried scaling the existing traditional systems, but that will not work if we want to include more students. India, the world's largest democracy, has unbelievably significant potential and a pool of gifted people across areas. I see a huge opportunity for partnerships and working together to reach out and include more students through online platforms,' observed Professor Crow while talking about possible collaborations with Indian universities.
The FICCI Higher Education Summit 2021 focused on resilience, innovation, sustainability, and enterprise. The conferences organized by FICCI this year concentrated on insights on policy roadmap and current issues in higher education around the world. The objective: highlight online and distant learning, since the pandemic has caused almost every educational institute to move to the internet. Professor Crow has extensive experience in creating an adaptive online learning environment, and he was invited to speak more about this shift to online education for higher classes.
'We measure our success not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include and how they succeed. The success of the university is measured by the success of the students. We (are approaching) 150,000 degree-seeking students now, and they completely represent the socioeconomic diversity of our society. We believe that a part of our existence is to take fundamental responsibility for the communities we serve, their economic development, social development, health, and well-being. For instance, we invented a high-speed robot-driven, saliva-based PCR test for COVID. We deployed that and used that within the university community, and now it has become one of the main tools in our state. We've tested more than 700,000 people,' said Professor Crow about universities taking on more responsibilities.
Professor Crow enlightened the audience, including students and faculty, on how online higher education is becoming the need of the hour. He emphasized the transformations educational systems needed to enhance the virtual learning experience of students. He explained the creative outlook that online education brought to curricula, allowing institutes to reach out to more students worldwide.
Speaking about what is in store next through online education, Professor Crow shared, 'By January 2022, we plan to introduce fully immersed learning through augmented reality. We're investing millions of dollars in creating a fantasy world that will educate students through unbelievable experiences with immersive learning. Also, we know that students need online student organizations and events. So, it's not just classes - it's also socializing, connecting, linking, and bringing students together. I feel that these technologies have freed us. We are now free to operate and innovate at a scale that none of us even imagined.'
Professor Crow concluded the session by addressing questions from members of the audience. He helped them gain perspective on the changes that online studies will bring in the future. He spoke about training faculty to understand and effectively use online platforms to educate and include more students. Dr Michael Crow became the 16th president of ASU in 2002 and has since revolutionized ASU's approach to learning. He is an educator with a Ph.D. in Public Administration (Science and Technology Policy) and a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies. He is a knowledge enterprise architect and is well-versed in emerging technologies. He has authored several books and articles on the redesigning and evolution of higher education in America.
Under his guidance, ASU has become a top university of choice for international students, with highly ranked business and engineering degree programs. They are currently #1 in the United States for having a global impact with entrepreneurship experiences available for students of all majors who want to create innovations that improve the world. 'Even though ASU campus will be open for in-person learning, we are also providing online class options and personalized support to students awaiting travel to the United States due to visa restrictions during COVID-19. We also have ASU Accelerate for students to start from home and reduce time and cost to get their U.S. Bachelor's degree,' said Matt Lopez, associate vice president of enrollment services and executive director of admissions services, while discussing the options ASU is providing students who are unable to come to the campus.
Lopez further added, 'We have ASU Prep Digital where we partner with K-12 schools to offer rigorous global curriculum and one-on-one instruction in a virtual environment.' ASU Prep Digital can help prepare India's teachers to excel and become leaders in creating a next-generation learning environment for students. Indian universities can seek support from ASU and enhance their technologies to adapt to the new methods and become inclusive educational institutions.