By Ms. Bandan Preet Mahajan
Founder, Genius Edutorial
Founder, Walks of Life
Communication and Life Skills Coach
Youth Skill Mentor
According to Epicor, Industry 4.0 refers to a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real time data. This revolution has had large scale implications on a wide variety of sectors but the most fathomable and observable ones are in the Education sector. The COVID further necessitated the need to adopt technology at a much faster pace in the field of education than ever before but for India, the adoption of technology and going digital was more by matter of default and less by choice.
However, it was this pandemic that has made us realise that in this era, it has become but imperative to combine digital, physical and biological systems, COVID or no COVID. As technological advancements continue to make life easier for us, at the same time they pose a challenge for us, it is this very automation,that may render several unemployed. As reported by DELL, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been invented and thus today’s school leavers are facing a future in an uncertain job market. So where does that leave us? We need humungous changes and herculean reforms in the education sector to cope up with this dire situation that faces us imminently. What we are expecting is that Virtual Reality (VR), Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality are going to run systems and sectors in the future.
So the question still persists! How do we ensure that our students are future ready? Well, for one what we need to now focus on is that we start with developing their skills rather than just adding to their knowledge bank. They need to be equipped with computational, analytical, problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaborative skills besides the basic digital & STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical) skills. This begins by getting rid of rote memorisation and giving them opportunities to think out of the box. This also requires educators to upskill, upscale and upgrade themselves in coherence with the changing times. They would have to be assigned leadership roles, allow them to become content curators and curriculum developers while at the same time, cater to individual differences since the one size fits all methodology would be soon rendered redundant. From being an instructor, he/she will have to metamorphose to become a coach and a facilitator who ensures that each learner learns at his/her pace in a learner centric ambience. From being a sage on the stage, he/she will have to transform to being guide by the side. Student Demographics are also bound to change as part of this new normal. Students who were till date considered non-traditional would now be ahead of those who were earlier said be a part of what we termed as mainstream. The new skills model is waiting to take over the traditional degree model by storm. Time would see the requirement for a workforce that is not just high on IQ (Intelligence Quotient) but high on EQ (Emotional Quotient), SQ (Spiritual & Social Quotient) and last but not the least AQ (Adaptability Quotient). To ensure that the same is actually worked upon, it is incumbent on educational institutions to make changes and adjustments to the curricula. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on simulations, case studies, experiential learning, discovery method to name just a few.
When we take the case of India where a huge digital divide exists, it would perhaps not be feasible to go forward with the adoption of a 100% digital/online model. What we need to start off with is perhaps a hybrid model of blended learning as has also been proposed by NEP 2020. However, for now, this is just a policy paper as of now and hence not conclusive. If however the policy is actually executed and implemented in true word and spirit, it would imply an interdisciplinary approach to education, provision of quality and inclusive education (one of the most important SDG as proposed by the UN), foster research and innovation and get our students future ready but yes, this would happen only after there is an entire revamping of the education ecosystem right from Elementary Level to Higher Education Level.