Home / Opinion / Views /  Opinion | Reimagining 'Education for All' with digital

India’s 500-year old education system, with its root in the experiential learning format of the Gurukuls (residential teaching system), has incorporated many changes in the form of new teaching approaches and enhanced access to knowledge and learning. In all these years, the one thing that has not changed at all is the will and intent of Gurus (teachers) to share their wisdom, enlighten the students with relevant lessons to ignite their tender minds and unleash their quest for knowledge.

Recently, I watched a video of teachers in a village of Kerala experimenting with Augmented Reality to impart lessons in Science and Social Studies during the covid-19 pandemic. Besides the incredible use of technology, what struck me the most in the video was the manner in which they had evolved themselves to stay abreast with changing times. They were the flag-bearers of the change’ we all want to see in the New India -- decisive, digitised and most importantly, self-reliant.

We need this change to remain relevant

One of the priceless takeaways of the pandemic is the realization of the need to be self-reliant and to flourish with all that we have. It was heartening to see how teachers who had shaped many lives with chalks and pens in school were patiently delivering the discourse through digital platforms, as seamlessly as possible. From physical classrooms and long sit-in exams to virtual classrooms and online assessments, academia has adapted to the new normal quite well. The pandemic has been a great opportunity to spread the boon of education far and wide with minimal resources.

With the economic reset that we are witnessing due to covid-19, I feel that the time is right to ponder and prepare for future battles that can be won with the right combination of attitude, talent and technology.

How do we bring the change?

- By re-assessing our education strategy

To power India’s ascend in the global growth path, we need to re-assess our education strategy to maximise the potential of our large talent trove. The current crisis has enabled universities and schools to think and act differently – they are turning to digital technologies to find sustainable, long-term solutions to not just deliver lessons to students, but also to train teachers to become better educators.

Debunking the 'One size fits all' approach could be another step towards mobilising India’s youth population by offering them customised learning courses that are tailored to complement their capabilities, skillsets and employability needs. In addition to hard skills, more emphasis should be given to cognitive and soft skills, as part of an integrated discovery-led approach across disciplines. A transdisciplinary learning approach will help in building resilience and improving adaptability – skills that are proving to be essential to navigate through life.

- By leveraging digital technologies to deliver the promise of 'Education for All'

Education industry has also been hugely impacted by the recent spurt of tech innovations. Smartphones and internet have already made worthy contributions in taking education far and wide with the click of a few buttons. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated how technology can be harnessed to enable remote learning for students across all age groups and it is now upon us to take it a notch up from here.

Digital is a horizontal which impacts all verticals and knows no boundaries. Emergence of technologies like big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence has brought rapid industry changes at a global level. This changing landscape calls for multidisciplinary learning, collaborative research and knowledge of digital to enable seamless collaboration.

- Co-learn, co-create and co-innovate to reshape the education landscape

Education is a great leveller that can help drive economic and social equality. Thus, efforts must be made to attune all learning practices and outcomes with the jobs of future. Learning is a multidimensional process which requires a collaborative approach from students, parents as well as teachers. Peer-to-peer, peer-to-teacher and group discussions are some great ways to foster learning over digital platforms. Reverse mentoring is a creative way to bridge the gap in education between generations. Using 3D Visualizations, simulations, prototyping and AR/VR based trainings can be used to strengthen technology skilling which is imperative in moving forward. Industry and academia are already collaborating to develop market-ready curriculum with adequate interactive learning resources and assessments

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya | Lead Us from Darkness to Light

A teacher is like a guiding light who will help us navigate through the continuous process of learning, unlearning and relearning in our lives. To my mind, this pandemic has been a great teacher to us - helping us prioritise our needs, assess our strengths and also teaching us alternative ways of living our lives. On this Teachers’ Day, I would encourage everyone to co-learn, co-create and co-innovate to build an inclusive and sustainable world.

(The author is managing director and chief executive officer of Tech Mahindra. The views are author's own and do not reflect Mint's.)

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