Prof (Dr) Anoop Swarup, Vice Chancellor (Designate), Jagran Lakecity University, shares his experience with digital and robotics labs, how they are reinventing the pedagogy, the innovations we can expect in the future, and their benefits to students and teachers
The metaphor ‘spaceship earth’ is no more a metaphor but a hard reality and when it comes to the future of the learning environment, there has never been a more happening technotronic revolution than what we see today. Through my own experiences in the academia and the universities, both in India and abroad, I may mention that in the Preschool of the Future, students will create their own learning environment and imagine stories that come to life in the real world of tomorrow. We are confronted with a period where technological innovations are happening right before our eyes at an enormous pace to develop interfaces that enable students to author stories in the physical world where robots and humans are not only characters, but also observers, choreographers and actors.
At the Jagran Institute of Communication and Management, we have strived to be India’s first practice school: we encourage students to author stories and study behaviors using networks and social media to generate graphics on simple digital interfaces. I do believe that by combining the physical affordances of digital media and characters, stories can come to life in the real world. We have encouraged programming in this environment as a group activity where multiple users can form tangible interfaces to programme advanced behaviors.
We are also proposing a new concept, textual tinkerability, by using storytelling gestures to expose textual concepts and relate them to theory. I believe that this approach will prompt students to become physically involved and expressive as they explore and evolve newer concepts. In a very subtle way, this approach will encourage a positive learning environment in the days to come. I do profess that in the future, the world will be beyond a make-believe world where people will physically interact with holographic images, communicate with them, understand them, and teach them, all in very familiar and playful human terms. Ultimately, the digitised and robotic interface will possess the social savvy, physical adeptness, as also the everyday common sense to partake in our daily lives in hitherto unbelievably newer and more challenging ways.
When it comes to reinventing pedagogy and fostering a spirit of innovation, we have a mission at the Jagran Lakecity University to develop computational techniques that will enable the design, implementation, and evaluation of “relational” and “digitised” interfaces and robots, to encourage social, emotional, and cognitive growth of both the students and the teachers for the overall advancement of the society. Technology has seen a sea change: we run on an Android cell phone, which displays an animated virtual face and provides not only the sensory input through the camera and microphone, but also fully controls the actuation of the individuals. It is, indeed, intriguing that future technology will eventually straddle both the physical and social world of people. Human behavior will, in future, be inspired, more by imagination as our goal will be to build capable digitised interfaces and robotic creatures with a holographic and living presence, and to gain a better understanding of how we as humans interact with the emerging technology.