Can we be masters of the technology rather than slaves – ICT in Education Summit

“Learning has hugely shifted online and is no more restricted to schools and colleges. The modern ways of learning have evolved with technology with a variety of tools and resources available online to facilitate this learning. It is to understand and deliberate on this that the 4th ICT in Education Summit was conceptualized and organized, which was attended by around 200 guests comprising of academicians, think tanks from the corporate world and government representatives.” – VAR India, who organized the event. The report is on 4th ICT in Education Summit

The afternoon panel discussion was themed around “Education in India merits Change.”  It was moderated jointly by Mr Vijay Shukla, Managing Director, Eduvisors, and Mr Sujit Panigrahi, CTO, Convergent Technologies. The panelists included, Mr Adil Usman, Business Head, iProf Learning Solutions; Mr R. Sreenivasan, Co-Founder, CL Educate (career Launcher); Ms Vineeta Mittal, Principal, The Millennium School, Gurgaon; Mr Gaurav Tomar, Director, Rabindranath World School, Gurgaon; Mr Varadarajan Sridharan, Fellow, Ed Tech; and Ms Sara H. Basson, Ph.D., Worldwide Program Director, IBM – TJ Watson Research Center.

The panel, discussing “Education in India merits change”

Topics for discussion revolved around the present education system in India, spanning from how to make Schools’ ICT Investment Count and technology-led disruption for Indian education ecosystem to upgrading ICT infrastructure to make learning environment fit for the future and safeguarding devices and prioritizing cyber safety and security.

Opening the session, Vijay set the tone for the panel discussion ..

– How does ICT impact the three dimensions of quality, access and equity
– Is the school space or higher Education radically impacted
– with just 18% gross enrollment ratio for higher education in India, what is the game changer

Varadarajan shared

  •  ICT challenges and compels improvement
  •  21st century saw ICT push, because of quality – as tool to enhance
  •  Most technologies and tools have evolved in the last decade
  •  The hole in the wall experiment by Dr. Sugata mitra, showed how ICT can make a difference
  • So, teachers’ role has changed – It is a question of how fast you adapt, what do you do as a facilitators
  • It all boils down to how do you, as an institution empower the mentors
  • concept of learning environment, home work and evaluation change
  • Policies of the state has to keep pace with this change in the outlook and environment

Vineeta Mittal

  • It is a tool, definitely required
  • What all needed to change in a school context –
    • Teachers have to move from content delivery to being facilitators
    • From memorization to giving conceptual clarity
    • life skills to be inculcated and taken forward
    • The learning will become interdisciplinary
    • May help children to evolve as out of the box thinkers

Gaurav

  • Only compelling reason I found was, every school in the vicinity is placing hoardings all over about ICT, whether they understood or not
  • Could procure hardware from Nehru place, software home grown
  • But one significant shift that technology demands is the cultural change
    • How fast people in the system orient themselves to the shift
    • Is it imposed or embraced
    • The leadership has to facilitate the whole process

Sreeni

Tech or ICT is only an enabler. If I look back at our journey in CL Educate

  • Launched compassbox in 1998, reached thousands of homes, initially mostly the MENA Region for curriculum support
  • Then we went on to introduce classrooms on the desktop in the MENA region – 2001, teachers teaching from remotest parts of India. Pankaj, an amazing teacher with passion for tech, used to take biology from Patna in 2001, when internet penetration in India was miniscule. But Indians abroad lapped it up
  • CL – we have sessions in the career and test prep space – webinars – attended by about 6-7k participants from nook and corner of the country and abroad too

The important challenges to focus in schools these days –

    • To make the learning environment and processes that stroke the right brain, any ways we are masters of clerical faculties
    • Idiot box was a challenge, it became a baby sitter… Now lap top, palm top… Whatsupp (FB acquired it for $19bn yday).. they all end up making  people unproductive, if not realized their role..
    • I had shared about a film that I had come across, in which the grade 4 curriculum was completely taught through a project to design the furniture for the classroom, during the academic year. Here is the film..

What is very important is how do we use it, where and when to use it.. Possibilities include

  • collaboration among mentors across geographies
  • collaborative learning among students,
  • customizing learning to differently-abled children in the same class
  • promote interdisciplinary work
  • bringing world class open source learning resources to the child and mentors

We need to be master of technology rather than ending up as a slave…. Hope the laptops distributed by the UP govt is being put to good use, not just for watching movies!

Sara

  • education is the next big thing for ICT
  • analytics holds the key to facilitate students
    • personalizing – individualized attention
    • Georgia school research. – with the data, can you predict the student where will he be?
    • enabling careers – education and the world – marrying the two
    • best innovation is pause and start buttonChallenges
      – complete info about the student
      – how did you know that he is going to succeed; analytics of historical data
      – we have technology, trying to find the solution; not the other way around

Adil

Problems that can be solved by tech

  • check a few industries – health…. Tech has changed paradigm
  • we need to think how tech can be used in the
  • Challenges
    – shortage of quality teachers – people
    – access to high quality content and tools
    – customized learning paths
  • We have deployed tools in – Meghalaya, Mauritius, now 15 million in CBSE
    – increase efficiency, reduce unwanted workload
    – tablet and online learning
    – Offline, online, in lass, outclass
    – mentors can be better facilitator

Vijay

– what is the matrix of success?

Q & A

Dr jayaprakash – I used IBM 1620 in 1964 first time; retired as Principal Baskara charya college

in Delhi and NCR ….
– quality of the student? How does it change? In NCR we do not have shortage of resources…what about the interiors of the nation

Vineeta
Kind of learners – visual, kinesthetic, …. Figure out what kind of learner and use it
Any where and any time learning

Varadarajan
– do we have a road map for ICT
– quality vision and road map
– Dmitry, a thought leader is working on Preserving his brain
– large hadron collider, whole movie has been made. How many get access to it

– failing to plan is planning to fail

Sreeni

  • Having batted other way around let me bat for ICT
  • In IWS, our schools, the best of the resources from the universities of the world is on the tabs for the students – imagine MIT, CALTECH videos to understand the concepts of specific gravity, viscosity..children get to see the experiments recorded
  • Come to the class and faculty does only practical to help you understand better
  • It is all about how best we use and we need to stroke the imagination of mentors first, then children will be take care off

Vijay
I sum up the discussion with a question

Can we strike a right balance both in creation and consumption of technology?

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Education Space – promise, future trends and prospects

I was interviewed by TOI on the growth prospects of education sector, trends expected in the near future and the path Career Launcher is espousing. Here I reproduce the interview that will appear very soon.

How the education sector is sailing through the economic slowdown –

– Education gives hope for a better future, thus education sector will always be a sunrise sector, irrespective of the state of the economy
– Especially when economy is down and out, education sector performs even better because people want to enhance their employability chances through,

  • Gaining greater skills or re-skilling
  • Undertaking courses or degrees that are valued more in the market place

When I say education is a sunrise sector, it does not really mean every institution in this sector will be in demand. Only the institutions who are really concerned of facilitating every learner earnestly, will do well in the long run. When I go through statistics of enrolment process over the last few months across the segments in education – number of universities, numbers applying for any university selection, preparatory programs, skill schools, vocational training etc – I can safely say the growth visible this year is to the tune of at least 20-25 percent this year, despite economic slowdown.

Growth prospects of the education sector –

Ironically, growth prospect of education sector is always extremely bright due the distance our nation has to travel. The challenge is daunting, but surmountable.

Is there any doubt about the curve the  education sector is facing –

  • With over sixty percent of population expected to be below the age of 25 by 2020, the nation has a great challenge to facilitate the FUTURE India.
  • With only about 11% of the population progressing beyond class 10, we have a vast majority to participate in learning and facilitating
  • With over 80% of professionally qualified people considered to be unemployable by the industry, we need to train them in skills that can enable them employable or even better, self-employed or entrepreneur.

We need thousands of new educational institutions every year that provide meaningful education that is accessible, inclusive, affordable, flexible, and contextually relevant. Yes, there are certainly a lot of doubts about how many of these institutions really have an intention to provide such a meaningful education in a very honest way. I am not excluding the government here.

Trends expected in the education sector vis-à-vis current trends –

If the feedback from the industry says that over 80% of freshly qualified personnel are unemployable; If a couple of lakh ‘skilled workers from diamond Industry’ get laid off and a few of them unfortunately choose to give up their lives instead of looking at re-skilling themselves; If a highly qualified engineer drops an unwanted newly born child into a well; if a young educated airhostess jumps from the top of a multi-storied building because she was stopped from smoking; if a group of youngsters waylay cars and drive bullets into occupants only to lay their hands on credit cards to splurge, then there is a dire need to have a re-look at what we call education and how the young minds are facilitated.

What do we mean by education? We certainly have to move away from the focus on ‘good marks’, away from an assessment system that can be hoodwinked by studying only in the last 48 hours to gain so called ‘professional’ qualifications?

Education is very different from literacy. “LIFE IS ALWAYS OUT OF SYLLABUS,” is the thought that is very centric to our approach to education.   An education system has to facilitate an individual to be in command of self and such an unpredictable and dynamic life.

In the short term, the transition towards the right direction will be a slow process, but if we look at a longer perspective of ten – fifteens years, there will be dramatic shifts.

Trends I foresee –

  • We will have to move from syllabus-testing curriculum to learner-enabling curriculum. NCF 2005, national curriculum framework, is a great step in that direction. It will have to be made the bible for schools to follow to move away from stress giving teacher-driven classroom, testing and marks-seeking mindset. We as parents will have to be facilitators for the schools to move on in that direction.
  • We need to create great teacher enabling and parent coaching institutions to facilitate them create learner centric environments. I see quite a few private initiatives emerging in this domain.
  • More open schools and distance learning programmes emerging and gaining respect in the society.
  • The demands of the society for qualified people across various careers, not limited to Engineering, Medicine, Accountancy and Management; Humanities will again find its shine under the sun. Evolution of National law colleges, and Design schools coming together are a great examples of such developments I can foresee.
  • Technology will create aggregating platforms where outstanding professors, professionals, freelance experts, eminent artists who may not be qualified by conventional standards, retired scientists etc. to offer programmes that will excite and facilitate interested learners to gain what they want. Check out NPTEL channel by IIT consortium on YOUTUBE, the second largest used virtual learning channel in the world.
  • The programmes will be highly flexible – one may just get trained to be an electrician, can progress to gain a diploma, a few years after could go for a degree. A few may even undertake Ph.D. programme in their lives.
  • The entry for any course may not be controlled as is being done now. Every one who is interested in a programme will have a choice to undertake that programme, but the exit evaluation for awarding degrees may be very stringent to give productive individuals to the society and nation.
  • There will be national assessment bodies that will create unifying evaluation processes for every profession, ala CA, ICWA, CS bodies. Example – every engineer irrespective of which institution he or she studies from, will qualify to be an engineer only on being certified by this assessment body.
  • On the reach side, there will be community colleges and community enabling centres within the reach of every village and block that will make use of all these developments to reach every child. All forms of ICT, mobile technologies and sixth-sense technologies will play significant role in access side.

All these developments will make education accessible, affordable, relevant and contextual, learner-friendly, market-friendly and inclusive in every respect.

Scope for the test-prep sector (being a core area of CL); Growth Plans of Career Launcher;

Core Area of Career Launcher is EDUCATION, in its entirety. It was a compulsion to start with preparatory education, only because economically-modest graduates from IITs and IIMs, with a dream of contributing meaningfully to education, did not have any money whatsoever to get into areas of schooling or higher education that demands enormous investments. For training aspirants for IIMs and IITs, people did not ask any question about infrastructure. It all started under a tree!

Endeavours of Career Launcher in education encompasses Early-child education, K-12 schools, rural schools, community enabling centres, E-learning and tutoring, Technical education (ITI), Skill schools, Employability and Finishing schools, Business School that fosters entrepreneurship and in the near future an exciting university.

The wildest dream is to reach meaningful education to children in 6.7 lakh villages of this great nation in the next couple of decades, by working with like-minded co-creators.

As I shared above, the preparatory education space will continue to flourish till the barriers are broken to make meaningful education accessible and affordable from the very early age.

Looking forward to your comments and feedback. You can share either here or on sreeni@careerlauncher.com

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