In a ‘wired world’ the destiny of human beings is interlinked” — “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” Vedic Dogma
In today’s world where knowledge is the greatest asset; the benefits of the information-rich, technology-enhanced, ‘Connected Learning’ environment must be extended to empower communities, and including corporate communities, to learn without limits.
Five years forward in digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks! McKinsey’s report says it all with these words as corporate India starts up digital to stand up after the global pandemic caught it unawares! Even in the case of digital transformation of schools, the transformation and adoption of digital teaching and learning has been the fastest in 2020 – 3 to 4 times faster than that witnessed in last few years.
1.8 mn schools vis-a-vis 1.9 mn companies in India
Interestingly the number of registered companies in India (as per February 2020 data) is around 1.9 million (of which only 1.1 mn are supposed to be active), the number of schools is almost similar with 1.8 million schools (1.4 mn Government schools and 0.4 mn private schools). While Indian businesses are reimagining and reinventing business models and customer experiences in the digital era, the future of learning will be profoundly social, personalized, and supported by Teachers and Technology.
However, corporate India is growing more distant and disconnected with fatigue and monotony setting in — posing problems for CXOs and CPOs. In the case of corporate India, there is no such single pivot or mentor (like the teacher) around which the team members can learn and transform. Self-learning and self-education is the mantra in Corporate India as it grapples with work-from-home and Digital@work! In corporate India, the CEO (Chief Education Officer) has always been missing!
Education Gets Policy Boost
The Government’s National Education Policy (NEP) announced during the lockdown has also given a boost to making India a world leader in digitally imparted school education by 2022 – the 75th platinum jubilee year of Indian independence. In fact, academicians and ed-tech players are very happy that NEP follows the UNESCO model of 21st century-ready classrooms and digital devices as textbooks.
The NEP 2020 makes the teacher the focal point and points out that the empowered teacher is one common factor that can turn the tide and lead the Indian education system towards a progressive, flexible, multidisciplinary, technology and skill focused education system that will have the capability to produce competent, creative, skilled, employable and ethical learners. Indian schools are striving to become Connected Learning Communities (CLCs).
Challenges In Transforming Schools And Teachers
Nobel laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai famously said, “They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in the home, school or any place”. But there are challenges galore! Pre- Covid-19, the number of schools involved in digital teaching had not even touched the 25,000 mark! Now finally Indian schools engaging in digital teaching seems to be heading towards the 1 lakh mark. From the school’s point of view, attendance is the most important aspect. And then comes attention, participation by the student, involvement and engagement. Here are the key challenges…
Digital teaching is often confused with video conferencing. In the corporate world, video conferencing is a powerful tool but in school teaching, it cannot be used in the same form! The key elements of video, voice and chat need to be controlled in digital platforms by teachers to avoid distraction and to ensure focus. Teachers cannot use video conferencing the way corporates use it. In corporate world, they are not necessarily controlled.
It is imperative for the teacher to control these video, voice and chats to prevent external noises, unnecessary chats and entertaining videos. In some cases, children exchanged passwords allowing anonymous entries into virtual classrooms and causing disturbance. It was also observed that certain open platforms used by schools/ teachers/ students/ parents were not really secure.
Earlier, teachers were not empowered or get involved in content creation process. In the case of corporate India, the challenges were around insufficient capital and time devoted to learning-on-the-job where India has always lagged behind. There is lack of genuine awareness of the impact or benefit analysis, data analysis or data management. Indian schools and corporates have a resistance to Cloud, Open Source and Big Data. The concept of business disruption or business continuity planning (BCP) is treated like insurance.
Connected Learning Community is a simple yet powerful idea with even more relevance today than when we first introduced the concept in the year 2002. Our vision is that the world is an enriched learning environment in which technology used well enhances and expands opportunities for learning while providing the practical technology experience needed in today’s society and workplaces. In the Connected Learning Community: Students, educators and parents have anytime, anyplace access to learning; Learning is relevant, individualized and personalized; Schools have information systems that support accountability and efficient management; school campuses, homes, libraries, businesses and global resources are connected in a dynamic, collaborative learning environment. Yet for 21st century learning, technology alone is not sufficient.
Schools, students, and teachers must have the vision and opportunity to experiment, innovate and create with technology as a learning tool. We want to facilitate a New Era of Education in a growing number of schools and communities around the world. Technology has helped launch a new era of education that simultaneously fosters academic excellence and the practical experience needed to succeed in life and work in the growing knowledge economy. Nevertheless, communities have only begun to tap the potential of technology for learning.
The ideas of Open Schools, Cluster Public-Private Schools to take digital learning to underprivileged and remote students; and spending on digitization instead of brick and mortar classrooms are revolutionary. The Government has announced bold steps in NEP with emerging tech-driven ideas such as Skype in Classroom and Virtual field trips instead of the traditional ‘chalk and talk’. As home schools become the new normal, Cognitive learning, Mixed Reality, Immersive Learning, IOT and AR-VR will eventually reach students at home.
Microsoft has the best syllabus of them all from world over. In the case of Microsoft Teams, companies such as Tech Avant-Garde have applied new rules to enhance structured approach and interactivity. Class becomes formal.
School is conducting and facilitating social interactions for enhancing inter-student communication and collaboration. For example, Microsoft-TAG provides something named as Breakaway Rooms – where students are divided into smaller groups for doing a project – they get 1-2 hours during school hours. In the Breakaway Rooms, students can collaborate to solve critical problems. The child’s communication and social needs are also met. Microsoft-TAG provide options for extra-curricular activities as per the student’s areas of interest. Beyond Academics there are options such as Yoga, Music, Cinema, etc.
Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality tools are catching the student’s imagination and helping build interactivity, connectivity and engagement. Experiential learning – There is a feature called Virtual Trip – where teachers conduct virtual trip/ tour to the Taj Mahal, Antartic, the Pyramids, etc. The Virtual Tours help teachers and children interact with each other.
Microsoft Mine Craft S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M learning is a vast subject in itself. Gamified learning is a very vast topic. Teachers can encourage curiosity and confidence, connect in-class experiences to real-world concepts, and prepare today’s students for a promising future with Microsoft Education products. Free training, resources, programs, and partnerships will help launch their classroom’s journey into STEM.
Every teacher is being empowered as a content creator and the whole school is transformed. Teachers well versed in digital teaching can transform Government schools and this will help students/teachers in remote areas. Eventually the students will drive the change and can be part of the class of digitally trained teachers even if they are not in class. However, corporates reserve learning to themselves and knowledge sharing or (KMS) within organisations is rare and ad-hoc.
Academics aim to provide education leadership, government decision makers, teachers and most importantly 350 million+ learners with the tools and skills to achieve the ambitious changes envisaged by the NEP and that many schools seek, by thoughtfully integrating technology in powerful and productive ways, aligned to realities at the grass-root.
‘Teachers truly shape the future of our children — and, therefore, the future of our nation’ thereby implying that teachers play the most important role in nation-building by creating high quality of human resource in their classrooms. Corporate India can learn from this!