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.
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. And this one line has formed the core of brick and mortar education for decades now. Not that it has completely gone obsolete, but much has changed and shall change. 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, makes us more social, 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. Indeed it has been a step forward and there emerged an entire range of edu-tech companies catering to this. New range of e-learning tools and resources, e-tutors, self-learning through Khan Academy videos for school education and Coursera videos and courses for higher education have now emerged. 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.
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 ashramas or Gurukuls for collective learning and a spirit of fraternal competition. Even in the post industrial world, many with basic education went directly into the factory system, into workshops and offices and picked up skills on the job, learning by doing. While experiential learning makes a strong case of hands-on ready-to-use skills being imparted only through this pedagogy, 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.
Experiential Brick & Portal Learning:
As we proceed into a Knowledge Economy, 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. While classrooms bring in teachers and peers. No more is the ‘teacher the ultimate interpreter of knowledge’, ‘but compassionate mentor who is the first stimulus for the learner’. The learner has to follow it up with self-learning, skills and applications on his own, particularly in the domain of higher education.
On Campus Practices:
A leading management college 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 sessions and sends it to students a night before to enhance interest of the learners.
Flip classroom methodology has been started by several management and engineering institutes where power-point presentation on the subject of discussion is given in advance 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.
Many universities have institutionalized a mixed evaluation process of integrating project work with online research and offline written examination. 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.
EBPL is an imaginative way of engaged and empowered learning and multi-pronged evaluation to test all of these: comprehension, retention, imagination and application.
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 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. Hence, there are no marks, only grades; and rewards are more in the form of joy of discovery, bonding, and field-work.
– Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury
School Head, School Of Media, Pearl Academy
As first appeared on The Statesman, Kolkata on 29th May 2018.