Nelson Mandela rightly said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. It develops critical thinking and scientific attitude but that to happen, access to good education is a prerequisite. A good quality education based on rationality and scientific temper not only, stretch imaginations, but also sustainable beliefs. In addition to this, a good quality education promises skills for their livelihood and prepares the person for future challenges. Technological advancements have made disruptive changes in the domain of education and learning systems by changing the dynamics of students, teachers, institutions, and governments. Fundamentally, the education imparting and learning process requires knowledge in the form of content, the process of knowledge delivery and the knowledge imparting agents and knowledge receiving stakeholders. Recent developments have changed the static and homogeneous structure of learning towards dynamism, heterogeneity and more democratically accessibility. During the course of action, new pedagogies have been developed to impart knowledge and make the learning environment cost-effective and inclusive. Alternative learning systems through ICT have also started giving good quality educational products and services coming from individuals and institutions which were not actually part of the traditional educational framework. ICT driven tools and technologies have allowed achieving creative disobedience in terms of change in attitude, problem-solving, achieving something new for the world. Since the ages, the known technology has been “board and chalk” which dominated the educational landscape for quite a long time and is still continuing. In Indian circumstances, the state of education and learning is not good as stated in various reports by the government and international bodies. Some of them reflect that Indian engineering students do not have the basics right and are not employable as they lack practical experience. This all is the result of the obsolete syllabus, resistance to accepting change and modernisation, lack of infrastructure, lack of good quality content and imparting agents faculty members, lack of practical activities, lack of hands-on experience in classroom teaching. It also suffers from isolation from real-world and societal issues, lack of collaboration among industry, government and academic institutions, outdated regulations and lack of autonomy to institutions and teachers to decide the future course of action. But due to the development in ICT and related technologies, access to the internet has produced hope and opportunities to achieve what we could not afford earlier. Forces of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation with economic growth have also provided us with the opportunities to improve and structurally transform our learning and education systems where a large number of students are spending more money on going abroad than our education budget. Earlier knowledge repositories included only books or articles having the text and sometimes images and imparting agents only teachers, professors, experts from respective domains. Dependence on such systems for a long time and without any update and limits of knowledge repository and agents’ physical nature made the system static, unidirectional, centralist, monopolistic, exclusionary and promoted only limited access to quality education through some elite education institutions. As a result, it enhanced psychological problems for students and parents by limiting their natural growth and potential from blossoming in society. Since the learning systems were only designed for some specific issues and pedagogy, they spoiled some of the great minds and few shy but brilliant minds who were uncomfortable with such systems and learning methodologies that resulted in low confidence human beings, suffering from depression or forced to death, and many other problems.
A major transformation has been in content development and providing 24×7 access to the knowledge and transforming the channel of dissemination. The education and learning system has changed structurally from unidirectional vertical channel to parallel vertical channel and horizontal peer to knowledge dissemination. This has happened through education platforms and developing products and services through ICT adoption. This has changed the classroom dynamics channels of knowledge dissemination and shift in attitude and expectation of the students. Several types of information or knowledge related content in the form of text, audio, video and animation is available freely from quality faculty. Massive open online courses(MOOCs) have helped and they are here to stay. There is a change which is positive and encourages faculty and students should work as a peer as their role has changed from just teaching to mentoring the students, working with them on social and real-world problems, challenging them to solve real-life problems and developing innovative solutions for the society. ICT and other developments have made the education and learning systems horizontal with much more decentralization, democratic in nature and creating more connections socially and academically among students. Uninterrupted access to knowledge repositories to all stakeholders give them the opportunity to learn at the time of their choice, their pace and make them fast learners. Now students question more and may validate the knowledge and review the old vertical system easily. There is a better opportunity through internet and MOOCs and other government initiatives such as NPTEL, Swayam and National knowledge network for the students in the remote area who now can also access the good quality education if basic infrastructure such as the internet and computer systems are available. Infrastructure push by Digital India Mission will take learning and quality education to remote areas and villages. Role of faculty should now be more towards research publication, patents, products, designs and some form of Intellectual property creation with commercial value. This opens the door for them in entrepreneurship. The government needs to remove the constraints from institutions in terms of course offerings, revenue generation, consultancy or IPR and give freedom to faculty members in universities to open start-ups and file patents quite often by developing and implementing transparent and rational policy. Students should be allowed to earn credit through practical work from other online platforms such as Coursera, edX, Stanford Online, MIT Open courseware and NPTEL etc.
For governance, the challenge is to set priority in the allocation of resources and develop the quantity and quality of education through public funding and private funding. ICT-driven new development in education surely could be cost-effective, efficient and uniform through the country if a certain level of basic infrastructure is set up with government efforts and private partnership. Changing the teacher’s role and then shifting from teaching to mentoring students and working with them as peers to promote research and development and solutions to societal needs. They need to cope up with the technological change, institutional structure, relationship change and physiological change. In time to come since education is going to become output driven and very competitive, so expert from the industry, civil society should be encouraged to play an important role in mentoring students and providing the real-life working environment internship. Student’s situation is changed now; they need to be skill-oriented contributing to the growth of the nation and becoming independent early. For institutions, challenges are to adapt to the shift in the objective and goal of education and embrace the change in the process of education. In society, this may seem that the speed of the change is a little bit up.
Technological intervention is helpful in access and quality education to a large section of society. New changes will prove to be more coherent, adaptive, futuristic, accommodative, democratic. Government of the day must provide the basic infrastructure and set up to access this ICT driven education and learning systems for the masses for getting a good quality education and utilizing their potential to contribute to society. This can be ensured with affordable access to the internet in remote areas following digital Indian mission with other models such as PPP in a timely manner to ensure the good use of demographic dividend. All of us as a part of society can get benefited by making this society more audible and with well-mannered citizens who are an asset than a liability for the new India.
Dr. Sachin Kumar Sharma,
assistant professor at Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi,
He can be reached at [email protected]