Digital Transformation in Education: Insights

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First arrived steam and simple machines that mechanised some of the work our ancestors had to perform. The next phase of change was about electricity, the assembly line and the beginning of mass production. The third era of industry came to light with the advent of computers and automation, when robots and machines began to replace human workforce on those assembly lines.

Manju Rana

Manju Rana, Principal-cum-Director, Seth Anandram, Jaipuria School, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad

Now we are on the precipice of what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). A 2011 German Government initiative marks a new wave of automation developments in manufacturing. In this era, computers and automation came together in an entirely new way – with robotics connected remotely to computer systems equipped with machine learning algorithms that can learn and control processes with very little input from human operators.

Technology is no longer a good-to-have; it has become an integral part of our lives and a mandatory skill requirement. In terms of penetration and completeness, technology touches all business sectors across world economies and its correlation to drive stronger economic transformations with time.

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In factories of the future, there will be virtual manufacturing ecosystems where human beings and machines work together as peers and collaborative robots (cobots) with enough intelligence to contribute across the ecosystem. Artificial intelligence (AI), IOT, Big Data, Automation, ubiquitous mobile super-computing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements and genetic editing are among the words thrown around by technologists today. The evidence of drastic change is all around us and it’s happening at an exponential speed.

The nub is that we need to reinvent education to equip the workforce of tomorrow. It’s beyond doubt that education is at the centre of preparing present and future generations to thrive. The education system is now requiring transformation from a system based on facts and procedures to one applies knowledge for collaborative problem solving.

Curriculum designing and learning experiences that encourage learners to solve real world challenges collaboratively solving interesting will be the key to thrive in this century. Dire need of the present-day education system is that Education 4.0 should be the vision for the future of education, which:

  • Responds to the needs of “industry 4.0” – where man and machine align to enable new possibilities
  • Harnesses the potential of digital technologies, personalised data, open source content, and the new humanity of this globally-connected, technology-fuelled world
  • Establishes a blueprint for the future of learning – lifelong learning – from childhood to schooling, to learn in the workplace, to learn to play a better role in society

To build a relevant and impactful schooling experience to the youth that enables to take on the challenges of future, the conventional brick and mortar schools have to transform drastically. From an early age schools should enable children to pick up voluntary self-motivated non-segmented learning paths. Such life-long learning paths should not only provide sustenance in economic or social definitions but also help children unlock their potential.

Traditional learning is like simulation before the real-life begins. Pupils spend close to 18 years before they are declared “ready for society”. As a rule of thumb, schools now need to take a leave from other domains and engage in effective knowledge sharing. As micro blogging platforms like facebook and twitter gain popularity where people can be both producers of content and consumers of it (prosumers), schools will also have to keep pace and transform themselves along similar lines. In the classroom, teachers shouldn’t be knowledge centers but enablers that guide students in the direction of what they seek. Such an ecosystem would turn one-to-one interaction into many-many interaction that is conducive to ideation and collaboration.

To promote innovation among students, the NITI Aayog has set up a target to establish 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by March 2019 covering all districts in the country. This indeed is a commendable initiative of the Central Government, which goes well in sync with the mission.

These labs are innovative work & play spaces for students between grade 8 to 12 to stimulate innovations combining science and technology. The aim of ATL is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and industry. Seth Anandram Jaipuria School at Ghaziabad and Kanpur are privileged to have been successfully running Atal lab for the past one year. We were amongst the very first fleet of schools to receive the Government grant to set up lab in our premises. The lab provides latest gadgets, software for new age designing, coding, 3D printing, robotics, IOT etc for neoteric thinkers and innovators to showcase their talent, creativity and novelty of ideas. (Views expressed by author are a personal opinion.)

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