by January 4, 2012 0 comments

Nobel Prize winning physicist Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Have things changed much in the 21st century?

We are perhaps the generation that has witnessed the most dramatic changes in our lives, thanks to technology dominating every aspect of our being. It has changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we play. However, the way we learn still hangs on to the 19th century methods.

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Redefining the Education System

In India, while we continue to use archaic learning methods, the global economy demands that students get more than just a mastery over a subject. Educators do not need to provide just information-we have search engine to do this job. We need to teach students how to redefine knowledge, be self-reliant, and be imaginative. The premium has to be on teaching students to do unstructured problems: Solving, creative thinking, communication, research skills, and analytical thinking.

Students must be taught to collect, process, compile, and disseminate information, instead of ‘remembering’ information and writing ‘correct’ answers. This not only means that the way students are assessed needs to change, but also implies that teachers need skill enhancement. Assessments have to measure the thinking ability of the students, challenge their knowledge, and not test their memorization capacity. For this, we will need psychometric tools linked to differential assessments.

Bridging the Chasm

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Today, Generation-Y students are much more tech-savvy than their educators. In urban areas, most students use devices with internet capabilities than ever before. They engage with information in different ways and know how to search for information. On the other hand, teachers are still stuck in the age-old linear textbook-and-lecture teaching style. Many teachers have a technology bias or even fear. The need of the hour is to bridge this chasm between students’ learning styles and teachers’ reluctance to use the technology. This is not a difficult goal. CORE, for instance, has collaborated with Oxford University and started a teacher-capability building program. It aims to bridge the gap between the existing teaching methodology and the 21st century learning needs by providing innovative and interesting learning platforms for the teachers.

CORE: An Innovative Solution

For the 21st century learners, CORE has innovative learning solutions like Immersive Classroom Education and Subject Intervention approaches, where we bring our partnership with NASA CHL for modern 3D immersive learning for simulating real life experience for a complex subjects that are difficult for students to grasp, learn, experience, and then apply.

Technology-enabled Education

A recent study found that technology, cultural shifts, and changing demographics have created 10 job categories in 2011 that did not even exist a decade ago, including social media managers, sustainability managers, and educational consultants. How do we as educationists ensure that students get training to be good at jobs in the future? The only way is by making the students capable of independent thinking, innovation, and ability to perform in uncertain situations through new methods of teaching.

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To prepare students for the future, education has to become accessible, affordable, attractive, and applicable. Technology can do this. While a large number of students in the UK schools are already taking e-learning courses using tablets to study subjects such as science and social studies, in India such gadgets are available only to the well-off. Technology-enabled education needs to be equitable and accessible to the lowest common denominator. CORE is sensitive to these needs; and the academic and technology innovation and research groups at CORE are working on an innovative integrated solution, which will make quality learning accessible and affordable to millions in this country.

For example, the projects under ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, which CORE has initiated for the Government of Jharkhand, tracks every child in the state, progress of each student along with teachers performance, as well as funds allocated by the Central Government using an advanced project monitoring system. This is a good example were technology-based assessment and governance tools can change the way we assess our projects, students, and teachers, thereby ensuring quality education.

At the end of the 21st century, we should be able to look back and feel good that we have helped marry technology and learning to build India’s next generation to face challenges of the coming years.

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