Education technology and its delivery are going through a revolutionary change today. In the digital age, chalk and talk is history. On one hand, with depleting attention span of learners, new learning pedagogy is needed. And on the other, integrating digital tools into education, from school to University, is must. But which are these tools and how to integrate the same?
Brick & Mortar:
This has been the usual learning in the classroom taught by teachers who speak the last word on the subject, coupled with learning in the library from hard copy books, and evaluating through examinations written in examination halls. Brick and mortar still is the core of education delivery. We need teachers as role models and a human touch, for clarifications and for inspiration. A good teacher motivates a learner to be open to even tough subjects. Also brick and mortar gives us peers, brings in a sense of collaboration and teamwork, and gives our first circle of friends much of which remains till death.
Click & Portal:
The West first brought the concept of online learning. Entire courses came to be presented online through the blend of text, pdfs, audio (podcasts) and video, and finally blended where all of these are converged to make the learning experience diverse to the sense organs and pleasing to internalize. New range of e-learning tools and resources, e-tutors, self-learning through Khan Academy and Coursera videos and courses have now emerged. They are sometimes aid to mainstream learning, and at times these become the mainstream learning itself. However, such an approach, when taken to its logical conclusion and in its entirety, makes education mechanical, bereft of role models, inspiration, peer group and teamwork. Many critics have noted that such an approach leads to geeks and robotic minds. The good old campus life, peer-network, teacher as a guru etc do have their own place under the sun.
Ancient Gurukul System in our civilization has eulogised learning by doing with a Guru in front as an inspiring role model and learners staying together in Gurukuls for collective learning. Even in the post industrial world, many with basic education went directly into the factory system, workshops and offices and picked up skills on the job, learning by doing. While this experiential learning makes a strong case of hands-on ready-to-use skills being imparted, the major limitation of this is while it answers to ‘How’ questions of skills, it does not delve deep into ‘Why’ questions of any issue. It renders itself limited to a repetitive process and learning by default, rather than by design. In true education, we need to learn how to do any work, along with the clear answers to why to do that, when to do (and not to do), what is the continuity or history of that skill/knowledge, etc. For these, we do need a formal and structured learning architecture as well.
Experiential Brick & Portal Learning:
As we proceed into a Knowledge Economy, and also a society which needs all the more reasons to interact and mutually empower one another, education is increasingly moving towards the right futuristic model in its delivery: Experiential Brick & Portal Learning (EBPL). Education to be diverse in scope, humane in approach, technical in skills, and internalized in its impact must combine the best elements of all the three noted above seamlessly and without mutual conflict.
We need to enumerate various educational pedagogy and approaches, and then move to learn in details, with cases and tasks to apply. This can be achieved by blending the class room/library brick and mortar education with internet/cyber-based click and portal learning and experiential learning by doing.
On Campus Practices:
Jaipuria management college in India has started using whatsapp as a tool to enhance attendance. It makes 2 minutes video with a touch of humour and creativity on the major theme of the next day in session and sends it a night or two before to enhance interest of the learners. Pearl Academy in India has done away with written exams and evaluates learners only through a major project applying all learning of a module, for each module.
Flip classroom methodology has been started by several management and engineering institutes where power-point presentation on the subject of discussion a day or two later is given along with online and offline reading resources. The class begins with a quiz to assess the level of information and understanding of the learners on the subject, then moves into clarifications and case-studies.
After discussing development and organizations in the classroom, reading cases and documented examples, a few management and communication institutes like SP Jain Management or Symbiosis Media schools have started sending learners to study development organizations and apply management principles and communication skills to contribute some value to them for a period of 4 to 10 weeks. Many universities have institutionalized a mixed evaluation process of integrating project work with online research and offline written examination to have a holistic approach to evaluating learning outcomes of their students. And this process is obviously a continuous evaluation. This is in sharp contrast to one-time year-end or twice a year written exams which determined grades and marks of learners for all their lives.
Finnish Innovation Labs in Education:
Education system of Finland is considered to be the finest in the world. In the Finnish Innovation Labs in education, specially at higher education level, there is no formal teaching, but a collective learning by doing where a theme is introduced, ground rules are set, the learners in groups explore it themselves through self-study, cases, survey or research on ground, and coming together and sharing results at every level, discarding those that do not stand strong.
The entire edifice of Finnish education system is founded on one core belief—learning by doing—that inherently values trust and responsibility. Further, the same belief—effective learning can happen when it is self-directed and self-regulated—got firmly imprinted in my mind. ‘Learning’ rather than ‘numerical outcome ‘should become the key component and occupy the center stage to keep education in line with the ‘Self-determination’ Theory—one that propounds that pupils perform better when they are motivated by intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards. Hence, there are no marks, only grades; and rewards are more in the form of joy of discovery, bonding, and field-work. Recently, Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM) and King’s College of Nepal are taking steps towards implementing this approach with Finnish support in their educational pedagogy.