The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an inevitable and indefinite requirement for incorporating matters of public health and safety into all aspects and walks of life. Business and other professional activities across the world now need to adhere to strict regulatory compliance of social distancing and use of PPE kits to restrict the spread of the contagious and deadly virus. This has led to increased costs incurred by businesses as well as other financial and educational institutions. Therefore, the design aspect in all professional and academic fields need to accommodate public health into their day to day operations. Moreover, public health has since 2020 become an important matter of expertise within learning design at educational institutions.
Health of students at Afghani educational institutions
While some of the higher education institutions in developing Asian countries like Afghanistan have not yet opened its gates to students, a majority of schools that have opened are under extreme scrutiny and controversy. The major schools and colleges in Afghanistan were already open just after 5 months of lockdown since the President declared that education of the 15 million students was as important as health care. For a country that is already battling the massive levels of illiteracy and the lack of proper education, this has been a bold but necessary step on the part of the government.
Adhering to COVID-19 best practices
Educational designers are responsible for structuring the learning design with the help of faculty and administrative staff. And, post the lockdown, this role has been widened to incorporate the best practices of personal and campus hygiene in regards to the containment of COVID-19.
Higher education institutions in developing countries like India have taken a big step in ensuring that learning design is well integrated with public health in light of the pandemic. However, the same cannot be said for many educational institutions in Afghanistan due to the severe lack of human resources and expert learning designers. Several aspects like designing social distancing-compliant classrooms have been overlooked by instructional designers at Afghani universities mostly due to a lack of in-depth knowledge in epidemiological and pedagogical literature.
Integrated learning design at Sharda University
Sharda University, one of the most prominent private educational institutions of India, has been certified by governmental bodies for following COVID-19 best practices that include social distancing, use of PPE kits, regular sensitization of classrooms and other common areas, and mastering a learning and instructional design that inculcates these practices among students too. By deploying experienced campus instructional designers, Sharda University has made the use of advanced techniques of remote learning to facilitate low-density classrooms that not only ensure the health and safety of students but also the quality of education.