Revamping Education Delivery

In the digital age, chalk and talk is history. Integrating digital tools into education, from school to university, is must. But which are these tools, what are their strengths and weaknesses and how to integrate the same? We need to learn about the same in our higher education curriculum itself

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Brick & Mortar

Learning in the classroom, taught by teachers, in the library from books, and evaluating through written examinations is the education we know. Our brick and mortar. But much has, and shall change in course of time. 

We still need teachers, as role models, to add a human touch, for clarifications and for inspiration. Also, brick and mortar gives the students peers, brings in a sense of collaboration and teamwork, makes us social, and gives our first circle of friends.

Click & Portal

The West first brought the concept of online learning. Entire courses came to be presented online through the blend of text, pdf, 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 emerged. 

However, such an approach, when taken to its logical conclusion and in its entirety tends to make 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. 

Experiential Learning

Ancient Gurukul System in our civilization has eulogised learning by doing with a Guru in front as an inspiring role model. Even in post-industrial world, many with basic education went directly 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. It renders itself limited to a repetitive process and learning by default, rather than by design. It is highly empirical learning, more by observation and repeated attempts, rather than having any normative and summative components. 

Experiential Brick & Portal Learning

As we proceed into a Knowledge Economy, and also a society which needs all the more reasons to interact and mutually empower one another, 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, the approach should move from 'teacher being the ultimate interpreter of knowledge' to 'teacher replaced by compassionate mentor not speaking the last word in the subject but being the first stimulus for the learner'. The learner has to follow it up with self-learning and passion to pursue knowledge, skills and applications on his/her own, particularly in the domain of higher education. 

Since no teacher/mentor can ever know everything of any subject, classroom is only the first stimulus and how a subject is introduced is the source of interest to grow or not for the learner. Internet or the cyber media must have to be adopted, kindle has to be source of reading, search online to complement library offline, and tools of 

We need to enumerate various educational pedagogy and approaches, and then move to learn in details, with cases and tasks to apply, the concept of blending or synergizing between the class room/library brick and mortar education with internet/cyber-based click and portal learning and experiential learning by doing. This EBPL approach is all the more significant in creative domains like media, communication, design et al. In these domains, knowledge is evolved from practice and practice evolves every day.

Today's creative education exhibits in great details how we can move from a teacher/syllabus-centric education to learner/learning-centric education: from school to University, and how teachers have to be facilitators at the minimum and mentors at the best. 

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 next day in session and sends it a night or two 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 a day or two later is given 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.

Using a relevant Coursera online course along with an offline workshop or classroom teaching of similar topics is another practice that has started and is often seen for media, management, communication courses.

After discussing development and organizations in the classroom, reading cases and documented examples, a few management and communication institutes have started sending learners to study development organizations and apply management principles and communication skills to contribute some value to them for a period of 4 to 10 weeks calling it Corporate Citizenship or Development Internship project. Participant observation studies are made components of learning in which a learner stays in a community, observes its dynamics, does a research and also contribute some value in terms of processes and documentation. 

Many universities have institutionalized a mixed evaluation process of integrating project work with online research and offline written examination to have a holistic approach to evaluating learning outcomes of their students. 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.

Imaginative way of engaged and empowered learning and multi-pronged evaluation to test all of these: comprehension, retention, imagination and application, can only be the way ahead ensuring learning by doing, in classroom and through the internet. 

*The author is currently School Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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