CourseraShift to online a ‘blessing in disguise’ as Indonesia embarks on blended learning

Shift to online a ‘blessing in disguise’ as Indonesia embarks on blended learning

Higher education leaders say that better teacher training and infrastructure are needed to prepare graduates for a post-Covid world 

Indonesian higher education has experienced a major cultural shift since Covid-related campus closures began in 2020, experts told a round-table discussion hosted by Coursera and Times Higher Education. The vast nation of 270 million is quickly building up its digital infrastructure to reach new generations of students.

Filiana Santoso, rector of Swiss German University, Indonesia, said that the required shift to e-learning could be seen as “a blessing in disguise” and a “game changer”.  

“Everyone now has to advance their digital literacy – not only students but also lecturers,” she said. “It’s unavoidable that, after two years, we are fully immersed in online learning.”

Jonathan Parapak, rector of Universitas Pelita Harapan, said that the most important element in this transition was having “the right people, the right lecturers, well trained to teach effectively”. 

“The graduates we produce today will go into a totally different environment,” he said. “Suddenly, the world is digitised and connected. This is an opportunity for us – and really, we have no choice – to go blended.”

Parapak said that Covid had inspired greater flexibility in the higher education system. For example, Indonesian universities have opened more remote learning centres and used remote delivery to cross provincial and national borders.  

Astha Ekadiyanto, head of the centre for independent learning at Universitas Indonesia Public, said another benefit of online courses was “self-paced learning” which benefited students who studied and absorbed information in different ways.  

Ojat Darojat, rector of Universitas Terbuka, offered a unique view from the only major open university in Indonesia. For his institution, Covid provided an opportunity to improve the digital offering it already had, such as offering distance and online teaching. “The primary purpose of higher education is to deliver quality,” he said. 

Abdul Haris, vice-rector of academic and student affairs at Universitas Indonesia Public, saw major changes in Indonesia’s learning culture. 

“All faculty quickly realised that online teaching was an important skill,” he said, adding that they were moving past the mere “point-to-point delivery” of curricula to interactive activities using a variety of platforms and devices.  

Rijanto Purbojo, director of the centre for teaching and learning at Universitas Pelita Harapan, said that it was important to train lecturers to develop activities to engage – and not bore – students.  

“The biggest challenge for us is that blended learning requires flexibility and fine-tuning,” he said.  

Purbojo also saw a move towards more short courses and micro-credentials, which would help graduates in the job market.

Ekadiyanto added that universities needed to be more open to industry and business. “It’s a challenge for university lecturers to keep up” with all the changes, he said.  

The panel: 

  • Muchamad Arif Al Ardha, lecturer, Universitas Negeri Surabaya 
  • Eklavya Bhave, senior regional director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Coursera 
  • Ojat Darojat, rector, Universitas Terbuka 
  • Astha Ekadiyanto, head of the centre for independent learning, Universitas Indonesia Public 
  • Magdalena Halim, vice-rector for academic affairs, Atma Jaya University 
  • Abdul Haris, vice-rector for academic and student affairs, Universitas Indonesia Public 
  • Joyce Lau, journalist, Times Higher Education (chair)
  • Jonathan Parapak, rector, Universitas Pelita Harapan Private
  • Rijanto Purbojo, director of the centre for teaching and learning, Universitas Pelita Harapan Private 
  • Filiana Santoso, rector, Swiss German University, Indonesia

Watch the round table on demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel. 

Find out more about Coursera. 

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