Higher Education Ahead: Innovations Galore: Like Never Before
If demonetization leapfrogged fintech, COVID induced lockdown and physical distancing induced long closure of campuses across the world have tremendously pushed edtech ahead. We have come to a time when blended learning delivered phygitally (physical and digital together) has come to stay. Beyond this complete campus lockdown phase, during which time mentoring-learning-assessing has gone online globally, we shall be moving towards blended phygital education in 2021, which will be the new normal ahead.
For this, first one has to be a digital personality with smartphone and net connection, and with laptop and wifi connection. Next, one has to learn how to create, deliver and engage in content across multiple online platforms, and how to take matter learnt online to matter practiced offline face to face. Third, one has to now learn assessment with open book through analysis and application, through quiz, through applied projects, through phygital presentation and actual work in labs and studios after using virtual labs and studios.
Fourth, education will now move from a system imposed disciplined endeavour to voluntarily participated and internalized process. It will be truly a learner-centric education now in the new normal, and shall be far more participative than the past.
Hence, teachers cannot remain the sage on the stage, telling the last word in syllabus, its interpretation, its delivery and its assessment. S/he has to be the mentor who mentors inside and beyond the classroom, creates proprietary content (self-videos, ppts, cases and lectures) and brings together aggregated content from open sources (youtube videos, URLs, cases, slideshares, MOOCs, etc). Mentors have to motivate, show a path, be the agony aunts and uncles, friends, and start from a structured syllabus and move to organic syllabus.
And the students cannot be the pre COVID times typical students any more going ahead. Students study in classroom, are taught by teachers, limited to given syllabus, and study for marks, grades, degrees. Learners study within and beyond the classroom, from mentors, peers, personal experience, books, digitally aggregated content, through projects and assignments. Learners learn for lifetime, and hence learn to learn further as things learnt today are obsolete soon.
Also, with Artificial Intelligence, robotics, automation, Machine Learning and internet of things being the other emerging realities, the skills for mass production or education to do the same work repeatedly will be totally irrelevant ahead when machines will take over almost all such work (more than three fourths of all human work today). Hence, new age skills, apart from technology use, have to be in areas like creativity, innovation, incubation, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, design thinking, empathy, emotional intelligence and risk management. Each of these can be qualitatively and quantitatively mentored to any youth from an early age of say 15 years till 25 years of age, and will become his or her second nature.
Yes, for this, doubling public education expenditure, digital access to the hinterland, considering digital connectivity as a human right, digital literacy as a fundamental pre-requisite in any work, providing cell phones and laptops or tabs en masse, announcing cheaper data packages for students, CSR in the field of domain of digital connectivity by corporate houses, etc. and more would be needed soonest to bridge the yawning digital divide in the otherwise class divided society.
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