Unlearn to grasp new learnings

With employability of students attaining new lows every year, it is a matter of serious concern for all the stakeholders of higher education to track progress of the students and the efforts the teachers are putting in. Sarvagya Mishra, Co-Founder and CTO of iAugmentor explains how they are trying to leverage technology to create a platform to address all these issues in an exclusive conversation with Elets News Network (ENN)

What is the genesis behind the foundation of iAugmentor?
As per a survey on employability  conducted by NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) only two per cent of the graduates  that pass out every year are employable as they lack in technical skills and other  life skills like communication skills, presentation skills, ability to handle stress and conflict resolution. In the course of interaction with the management and students of tier II and  tier III colleges, we realised that the problem lay in the way training was being imparted.  Students fail to get  specific and personalised inputs and support from the management and the trainers and hence lose interest in what is being taught to them in the classroom. We felt that the need of the hour was to leverage technology to create a platform to address all these issues. On our platform, the students get personalised inputs based on their learning needs. The trainer is then able to track the efforts being made by the students and the management is able to quantify their efforts.

What kind of learners are you catering to?
Our initial target audience is the college going students who are looking forward to prepare themselves for the next step in their career. Presentation skills, body language or interview skills are some of our most popular modules among students. We are offering custom designed modules for corporates in which we are helping them in training employees and also developing specific life skills to enable them grow more.

When you talk about opening up of neural pathways, what exactly do you mean?
Neurons are the fundamental units of the brain triggering our thinking process. A thought, idea or action is a series of neural messages communicated through a series of neurons in our brain. New learning is impeded as our brain tends to prefer spontaneously to use its preferred pathways. This is why human beings find it very difficult to change habits. For a new neural pathway to develop, it takes multiple journeys along the new pathway, for old habits to change.

Why is unlearning important?
Technology is disrupting the way we live, travel, get entertained and communicate. Let’s take the case of education. Unless our teachers unlearn, they will not be able to adapt to the needs of the new generation who were born in the Google age where information is available at the blink of an eye. The role of the teacher is now changing from a knowledge source, to someone who helps disseminate learning, already available from different sources, and guide on its practical use.

How do you relate the above with iAugmentor?
We all have limited beliefs, self esteem levels as well as habits. We operate from these unknowingly, and unwittingly settle with the performance levels of what our neural pathways are pre-set to. iAugmentor presents learning through a “Learning by Doing Approach.”  For example, it pushes the learners to upload their videos on to an imaginary audience, with a specific question. This video is then automatically compared with some expert speaker videos, as well as videos of other students who answer the same question. By continuously getting feedback and comparison with peer/expert videos, inbuilt habits and neural pathways are replaced by new ones, and the learner moves towards acquiring new ingrained capabilities.

How do you peg the scope of iAugmentor in India’s current scenario?
With almost 15 lakh students graduating every year, a mere two per cent are employable. Under such circumstances, the students need to enhance their technical skills in order to augment their chances of employment. This situation is in spite of the fact that all colleges are spending around Rs 25-30 lakhs per annum to train their students. In India, Training and Development is a $100 mn industry, growing at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of eight per cent. Of this, almost 60 per cent of the money is being spent on training junior level executives and students. Yet there is no accountability in the entire process of training and development industry especially pertaining to the tier II and tier III colleges.

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