Kumar Gaurav the head of the consulting unit of Zensar says that in order to transform our education system we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, innovative content, and learning resources
Education is the key to India’s economic growth and will determine our ability to compete in the global economy. India's dominance in IT services industry, growth in pharmaceutical sector and emergence of the knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) industry in the last two decades has become possible only because of availability of highly skilled and educated youth.
However, a lot still remains to be done to foster innovation, create global relevance and promote fundamental research.
The 21st century calls for a model of education where all participants in the process get an engaging and empowering experience. It needs to be inclusive rather than selective.
Need for a new model of education and the role of technology
Much of the failure of our current education system stems from a failure to engage students. The new education model should focus on what students need to learn, how they learn and how the learning outcomes and teaching effectiveness is assessed. Making this happen will require state-of-the-art technology and specialized faculty, processes, and tools which we have got in abundance today thanks to India's booming IT industry.
This new model should combine state-of-the art technology into a learning environment to enable, and inspire all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities. We must move away from one-size-fits-all curriculum, pace and instructional practices.
Whether one is teaching engineering, medicine, economics, languages, mathematics, science, history, art or music, new age competencies such as critical thinking, team work, complex problem solving, project management, collaboration and visual communication skills should be woven into all learning areas.These competencies are becoming increasingly necessary to compete in the fast paced, ever changing global economy.
This new model of education cannot exist without the support of technology.
Today’s professionals routinely use the web and tools such as search engines, wikis, blogs, social network and digital content for research, collaboration, and communication in their jobs. Students themselves are digital natives and they can easily be encouraged to use technology to solve real-world problems. This can enhance their learning experience and make them more productive as a member of the social economy
Here are a few pointers on how you should leverage technology to build a new model of education.
Encourage faculty to become facilitators and collaborators
In our current education model, the most neglected entity is the faculty member. Institutes can also leverage to build the capacity of faculty members by enabling a model of collaborative teaching.
In such a scenario, teams of educators replace solo faculty and classrooms are geared up to provide teaching staff with 24/7 access to data, analytical tools, and resources. In collaborative teaching model, nobody is isolated. Faculty members are connected to learning data, content, resources, and systems that empower them to create, manage, and assess learning experiences. These inter-linked systems can help them become facilitators and collaborators in their students’ increasingly self-directed learning.
Assess performance and intervene to improve learning
The new learning model will also require better ways to measure what matters, identify strengths and weaknesses well within the course of learning so that there is still time to improve student performance. For this the involvement of multiple stakeholders which includes faculty members, psychologists, data scientists and technologically qualified workers is needed.
The stakeholders will help in the process of designing, conducting, and using these assessments. Technology-based assessments can provide crucial data to drive decisions on the basis of which one can decide what is best for each and every student.
With performance focused on assessing the full range of expertise and competencies, student learning data can be used to continually improve learning environment and outcomes.
Build a comprehensive infrastructure to support 24/7 learning
A new model would not be complete without a comprehensive infrastructure. This means providing every student, faculty member, administrator, and management with the technological resources they need.
The learning infrastructure must be available 24/7 to students, faculty members and administrators regardless of their location. It should support not just access to information, but access to people and participation in online learning communities.
Infrastructure must include budget for broadband connectivity, servers, software, management systems, digital libraries and administration tools besides processes, learning resources, and policies.
Infrastructure should also support new ways of capturing and sharing knowledge based on multimedia that integrate text, still and moving images, audio, and applications that run on desktop, laptop, mobiles and other devices. Building such an infrastructure is a long-term project that will demand concentrated and coordinated effort.
Act now: Lead, invest and collaborate
One does not have the luxury of time. We must act now to adopt a high-tech model of education and fine-tune the same as we go. Making it a success will require leadership, collaboration, and investment at all levels i.e the Centre and the State. Administrators of higher education institutions, private enterprises, and not-for-profit entities will also have to work along with the policy makers.
About the Author
Kumar Gaurav heads the consulting unit of Zensar globally. Kumar has extensive experience in the space of technology led business transformation. The multi-million dollar consulting unit under his leadership has implemented digital solutions for customer engagement, increasing revenue and profitability improvement using next generation technologies of Cloud, Social, Analytics and Mobile. He personally has led multiple engagements for Fortune 500 companies across the globe. The author is an advisor to Center of Educational Technology – an Initiative of Element94.