Innovation for Better Outcomes in Education

Dr RSK Laksshmana Prabhu

Dr RSK Laksshmana Prabhu, Director, PSNA College of Engineering & Technology, Dindigul

When we juxtapose the amazing number of higher learning centers and the poor research output in India, educationists deeply feel within them an urge to understand the nature of the problems that have  crippled research activities in this country.The professors believe that they have no time to build close relationship with talented students. This has resulted in the alienation of those students who may contribute to the enhancement of the nation’s image. Clayton Christensen and Henry J Eyring authors of ‘The Innovative university’ have invited us to consider their ideas which will revolutionise university education. The learned professors in India must learn from what is happening in universities like Harvard and BYU-Idaho. Ira Harkavy, Associate Vice President and founding Director of the Barbara and Edward Netter Centre for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania has referred to the great hope expressed by Daniel C Gilman that Universities would one day make for less misery among the poor, less ignorance in the school, less suffering in the hospitals, less fraud in business and less folly in politics. Clayton Christensen and Henry J Eyring have expressed their hope that the learned professors at the reputed universities can serve more students ‘at lower cost’ which also ‘improve their learning experiences’. Both these scholars have also seriously considered the problem of  rising college fees, declining graduation rates, the inability of the governments to allot more funds for higher education and similar problems which made them feel the urge for the message. Christensen’s first message may be taken as a warning. Educationists must know that the same online learning technologies that can benefit traditional intuitions can also disrupt them. Online learning may disrupt traditional universities or create opportunities for them to serve more students. When this becomes possible, talented men and women who had no opportunity to receive higher education will find opportunities to reveal their extraordinary or innovative mind.

Online learning may disrupt traditional universities or create opportunities for them to serve more talented men and women who had no opportunity to receive higher education

It must be borne in mind that 150 years of traditional education has not brought about revolutionary changes. But one should also remember the achievements of Granville T Woods an African-American inventor who held more than 50 patents. He left the school at the age of ten. After gaining experience at the machine shops, he studied at a night school an also took private lessons. As Woods knew the value of technological education offered by traditional universities, he took a mechanical engineering course at an Eastern college. He established Woods Electrical Company, the American Bell Telephone company, the General Electric and Westinghouse Air Brake Company. In 1888, Woods developed a patented system for overhead electric conducting lines. Earlier, in 1881, he  atented the synchronous multiple railway telegraph which  established communication between train stations and moving trains. He also invented an electric incubator that could  incubate 50,000 eggs at a time.
The most significant points to be emphasised are that traditional universities will become more secure as there will be no threat of  disruption from the products of online learning. Another most significant point is that both kinds of learning must be seen as complementary modes of learning. The book written by Clayton Christensen entitled The Innovative University; changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. (The British bio physicists, Maurice Wilkins Watson and Erick discovered the double helix structure of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA),molecule, a substance that transmits the genetic characteristics from one generation to the next.) Christensen’s use of the term DNA as a metaphor clearly implies the values like research-oriented learning, the irresistible desire to invent and a genuine desire to improve the quality of higher education and the nation’s economy.
The next most significant point is that the present speaker is emphasis on the formation of consortia. The consortium at the Boston University, The Vasculites Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) is an integral group of academic centers. 


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