LAST year Google launched its new initiative called ‘the next billion users’, which targets the next one billion technology consumers who would likely be using only smartphones to access information — it calls them the inheritors of technology. Therefore, Google has shifted the focus of its technology production towards hand-held devices. And here we are, still teaching our upcoming generation the same old syllabus which became obsolete decades back. Quite a contrast.
The fact that our education system in general is outdated and obsolete is common knowledge now, so there is not much left in arguing over that rhetoric again and again. Instead, we should turn around and have a look at the innovations that are being considered in the education sector worldwide, and what bold steps certain institutions have taken to implement the new forms of learning.
Let us start by classifying education into two fields; one comprises the content and syllabus part while the other deals with the methods and processes involved in learning. Currently we lag in both aspects and there is an urgent need of innovation in both domains.
Newer forms of teaching and learning are being tried out across the globe. Innovation is not the first word that comes to mind when discussing our setup.
The syllabus should be revised by incorporating latest trends, information and researches, in addition to getting rid of the decades-old obsolete content that is currently being force-fed to our children in schools. The world and its ways have evolved over the years and this needs to reflect in our textbooks.
This problem was initially identified by high-end private schools as they altered their curriculum and inducted many foreign course-books in their syllabus, considering that their content was relatively more advanced and relevant.
Then gradually they began shifting towards the international education system, which has now become a symbol of success — partially because of its own quality but mostly because of the lack of quality of the locally implemented syllabus.
These schools are also using latest gadgets and computing devices to facilitate the learning processes for their students, and are also imparting technological learning to them.
The 21st century is the age of information technology. We need to realise that and adapt to it fast. There is no point carrying forward the burden of something that was best-suited to the industrial age and produced workers in mass numbers. With rampant influx of information technology the future is entrepreneurship and we need to teach our next generation accordingly, like the first world countries have been doing.
The focus of our teaching should be on imparting skills to children and encouraging them to take on new ideas and pursue them. Only this way we will be able to compete with the world, otherwise we will fall back further in our struggle towards achieving success and sustainability.
The other field which needs innovation and advancements is the learning process, as currently its decades old and has turned obsolete as per global standards. Again, it is the private sector which has identified the need and has employed newer ways to carry out learning processes. Some top-notch private schools have rolled out e-learning processes to facilitate their students and also to let the parents keep a tab on their child’s learning.
When it comes to infusing technology into the current education system, there are two main processes that need to be carefully planned and sorted out before indulging in any endeavour; management and support. Without proper management and support it is not possible to carry out the process of innovation in our curriculum and learning methods.
Educationists are of the opinion that the current generation is the inheritor of technology, unlike those hitting their youth in the last century; they were the migrators to technology. So, it also can be termed an irony of sorts that those who migrated to the use of technology at a later age are now teaching the children who have inherited technology right from day one. They have been accustomed to the use of technology since infanthood. It is quite expected that what a migrator to technology will teach an inheritor will be a bit outdated if it has not been carefully crafted and thought before.
Then there is the element of learning beyond the classroom. With the advent of technology the operational processes are changing in every field. It won’t be incorrect to assume that technology has affected every system or process that happens in any field or work. And education is no different. There will soon be no need for a brick and mortar school, and children in far-flung areas will also be able to receive quality education similar to that being given to children attending a top-notch school in urban centres.
This schooling-the-unschooled phenomenon is similar to the banking-the-unbanked mechanism which has already made inroads in the country, and now you can send money to people in far-off areas who have never had access to banks. Since money remains a priority in this part of the world, it was given a priority over education. And people connected with it almost instantly.
But the same needs to be done for education, and government and private sectors both need to step forward and realise their respective responsibilities in order to make quality learning possible for every child in this country.
Currently, European countries dealing with the crises of refugees are employing these distant learning processes on mass scale. They have invested millions of dollars in developing an education plan and have given computing devices to these refugees after enrolling them in asylum schools. This way, the people in the refugee camps are being educated so that they can quickly learn the language and other subjects to become a productive part of society.
Even the prestigious universities in Europe and the United States are planning to make their learning material public through the internet for free. This way everyone will be able to have access to quality education.
All this can and will be made possible through the use of technology in the education sector. For this we need to gear up and realise its importance first. And while we are in the realisation mode, we must identify the flaws and plausible loopholes in our current education system and should try to fix them till we have the parallel track ready.