Sustained Learning In The IoT Era

The challenge is to set up a learning loop that improves the course design and e-learning content progressively over the period and promoting knowledge sharing, information exchange and collaboration among the stakeholders at the same time.

The lexicon of learning had to stand up to a plethora of changes over the past few decades.   The learning community has become home to a succession of technologies in the recent time. We have strategically evolved from the long-established modes of learning in the Gurukuls to the current state of affairs where the digital world has encroached the world of learning and has invigorated the learners' experience to a three-dimensional platform. With about 50 crore people in our country falling in the age group of 5-24 years and the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) estimated to be 30 % (currently 23 %) by 2030, the only pragmatic and cost-effective measure to meet the rising demand of educating the mass is going online. Not just educate but the challenge is also to evolve the learning experience in order to enable the stakeholders for an active and collaborative working life. Ubiquity of e-learning and the enormous opportunities and risk associated with it is intimidating more so for a country like India where the number of internet users in India is estimated to be 75 crores by 2021, exhibiting a 2x growth (“The Future of Internet in India “a report by NASSCOM and Akamai technologies) and in turn compels the need for more than a fragmented approach to learning as a concept. 

We, therefore, stand at a threshold to make e-learning sustainable, aiming to strike a balance between costs and strategic benefits.   The challenge is to set up a learning loop that improves the course design and e-learning content progressively over the period and promoting knowledge sharing, information exchange and collaboration among the stakeholders at the same time.

E-learning strategies have to address organizational, pedagogical, technological, social and environmental goals. Innovation must adhere to the principle of simplicity, compatibility, relativity in terms of advantage and sustainability over existing practices. Organizations must meet present and future knowledge demands with respect to political, social and legal obligations keeping a sharp eye on the sources of funding. Top officials need to put the best strategies in place to sustain the interests of both learners as well as shareholders. The technological systems involved must ensure security, scalability, and reliability.  The Essen learning model (developed at The University of Essen) emphasizes the interoperability, reusability and the ease of use of learning technologies. The technological system works within the stands of coding and interoperability, learning content (Shareable Content Object Reference Model, SCORM) and accessibility (World Wide Web Consortium). Even though we have progressed digitally with an intent to distribute knowledge at a much lower cost the irony is with time the technological and market demands are shaking the pedagogical concerns. The major pedagogic objective of any e-learning content is to ensure the professional development of the trainer.   Researchers have proven that teacher’s beliefs of good teaching practice are primary and affect the mode of delivery as well. Digitally encapsulated learning can also reduce the impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions while providing quality learning and meeting users’ needs. Some Malaysian universities have taken several initiatives to implement sustainable education. These include the Campus initiative, Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development Practice and the Recycle Project. 

 Green Campus Initiative (GCI) has been implemented at the University College Sedaya International (UCSI) that evaluates the university’s carbon footprint emission.  A sustainable e-learning framework for the higher education institution was designed by Malaysian University in 2014, considering E teaching principles, Application Technology and Sustainable development as key factors. The framework is helping Malaysia to maximize its use of technology-mediated self-paced learning, expand its capacity resulting in economic growth. As per a joint study by Google and KPMG in 2017, India’s online market is set to grow to a whopping USD 1.96 billion (9.6 million users) from USD 24.6 million (1.6 million users in 2016) by 2021. The statistics shared by MIT Coursera (world’s largest open online education i.e. MOOC provider) depict a 70 % rise in the registration of Indian users on the platform. The barrier to electronic learning is not technological anymore, also the learning community has been exhibiting more will and competence to the network-enabled learning. Resistance to implementing e-learning can be accredited to the issue of uncertainty, trust and the changing dynamics of knowledge, which in turn highlights the role of Universities, Course designers and Instructors for setting e learning standards that enable seamless operation of courses together over multiple platforms in a sustainable environment.  

As the world is moving towards paperless transactions, the agile world of learning aims to witness an era of technology-enabled paperless learning to establish secure, collaborative, constructivist and sustainable knowledge sharing.  With approximately 65% of the population below the age of 35 and Policy initiatives like Skill India, both the people and the policy can reach zenith only with the technology-mediated, cost-effective, self-paced and ubiquitous source called e-learning. 

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'Nov. 20, 2018' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

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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