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The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Online learning process has opened a new horizon

Mozidur Rahman Biswas

Published: 00:19, 14 March 2023

Online learning process has opened a new horizon

With the ongoing evolution of technology, many new opportunities for women's learning have emerged to participate in socio-economic development in line with global changes. In order to meet the requirement, many such appropriate learning formats have been evolved in modern societies.  Online learning process is one of the most important methodologies that has, in many ways, strengthened women's participation in the development process.
We may explore a number of models which are considered as the most positive methodology for career development of women across the world. During the last few decades, countries in different regions all over the world have adopted significant measures to address gender inequality for increasing women's participation mostly in the areas of education and employment. However, against the tide of this progress, gender parity reportedly has slowed down globally due to multi-layered crises in the  modern world. The global  pandemic in recent years   also stood as a barrier in retarding the process of gender parity.
The World Economic Forum's (WEF) recent Global Gender Gap Report also warned, saying that it might take about 132 years to close the global gender pay gap - up from an estimated 100 years, just two years ago. Though, prominent global analysts viewed the matter in different angles saying that global gender equality will accelerate in line with worldwide changes following  the innovative  pathways to be evolved due to scientific and technological advances in future decades.  .  
Meanwhile, though, several countries across varied regions of the world have reversed gender gaps mostly in education, with females outnumbering males in higher academic institutions especially at the tertiary level. However, this does not always translate into a balanced representation in the workforce, highlighting a clear mismatch between the prevailing skill sets and evolving labour market needs in the relevant areas.
Now the question is, how to close the ongoing gap? Of course, digitisation offers a powerful solution in the process. But, with the ongoing evolution of technology, new opportunities for learning and economic participation have emerged steadily. Undoubtedly, one of the most notable is online learning, which has proven to be a boon for women. Women have been able to leverage its advantages, including flexibility, affordability, and safety, to achieve their goals in this direction. In this path, new modalities of e-learning are not only narrowing gender education gaps but also preparing women for in-demand jobs in the digital economy by connecting them to vocational training, reskilling, and up skilling opportunities, according to global experts in the relevant areas.
Specially, in this context, it is observed, as countries in the region aspire to build knowledge-based education marked by more stress on economic development, thus addressing the growing skill and gender anomalies will definitely be a critical factor. This is where online learning comes into play not only as a supplement to a broader educational experience for women but also as a vital aspect of socioeconomic growth for female professionals in the fast-evolving work realm across the globe.
Now, we may analyse, how are 5 (five) ways of online learning   for women folk as formulated by global experts  based on comprehensive research : (1) Equitable Learning: Online learning provides a sustainable model for everyone to learn the subject of their choice, thereby offering equitable learning opportunities. The range, cost, and accessibility of online courses also encourage more women to enter underrepresented fields, supporting their learning and career growth.
Governments, businesses, and educators have been directed to invest in equitable up-skilling to ensure women have the tools to close the gender pay gap and actively participate in the respective economy.
The 'Hybrid Education' model implemented at the Higher Colleges of Technology. In  the UAE's largest applied higher educational institution, ways have been devised  to proceed that way for enabling students to develop in-demand skills and equipping them with career-relevant qualifications so that they are better prepared to emerge as the modern workforce to meet the needs of the mounting challenges, across the region and global arena here and there.
Remove Socio-Economic Barriers :(2) Women who struggle to access traditional educational institutions - often because of caregiving responsibilities - can achieve the education required to up skill themselves and bolster their salary through online learning. With its flexibility, affordability, and safety, online learning effectively removes the socio-economic here and there.
Accessibility to Industry-Recognised STEM Course (3) historically, technical courses and STEM learning were seen as unconventional career choices for women. In the evolving digital economy, technical skills are no longer a choice but a necessity. Although 57 per cent of STEM graduates across MENA nations are women, and in the Gulf state women comprise about 60 per cent of engineering students, gaps persist in the workplace with STEM fields across the GCC considered the sectors with the largest gender gaps. Online professional certifications in this area could help as they provide the opportunity to gain industry-recognised qualifications from leading companies like Google, Meta, and IBM - building confidence in them to join the workforce and excel in technical jobs.
Supports Up skilling and Lifelong Learning (4): The evolution of high-demand skills, resulting from changing job requirements due to automation and digital transformation has become the norm. Digitisation across industries has shortened the skill shelf-life, making it necessary to quickly replace them with upgraded skills. Saudi Arabia's Flexible Learning Pathways initiative, for instance, enables students to stack up micro-credentials across 10,000 courses and an array of subjects ranging from arts and science to business and entrepreneurship. To remain relevant in the workplace, adult learners, particularly women, will increasingly need to commit themselves to the mind-set of lifelong learning. The flexible and affordable online learning helps women to do just that along with gaining in-demand skills.
Supporting Career Growth and Career Switch (5): Online learning has become a lifeline for women for not only career growth but also for a career change. If someone is planning a career change, they no longer have to take degrees through the traditional route. Online learning provides access to hundreds of courses and learners have the freedom to try the course for free to get a sense of what it entails. They are also provided with choices of different types of courses, from degrees to professional certificates or guided projects - whatever best suits them in their career switch.
WEF research shows that 37 per cent of people reported a positive career outcome from online learning, either by landing a new job, or generally improving performance. Online professional certifications that offer the opportunity to obtain industry-recognised qualifications from leading companies such as Google, Meta, and IBM are also critical in encouraging more women to enter the workforce, close the gender gap, and contribute to a prosperous, developed economy.
In view of the worldwide changes, the relevant policy makers in the  relative field in a country like Bangladesh  will have to adopt appropriate policy measures  to  accelerate the  process, how  the country can develop a  pragmatic methodology in this direction to utilise our women workforce in fostering socioeconomic transformation to march ahead to emerge as a developing country within in the  set time frame. The visionary policy directives marked by appropriate action packages will not only  help the country to achieve faster  success in the path of our development  in the best interest of  people in all strata of  society,.but will also raise  the overall  image of Bangladesh  in the committee of nations.  
The writer is a Senior Journalist and Media Analyst. He can be reached at mrbpress@gmail.com

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