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Redefining Higher Education through New-Age Innovations

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Higher Education

Technology, social change, and cost inflation are the three key elements posing multiple challenges to students in higher education thus laying emphasis on the need to be innovative in an educational system, usually wary of change, writes Akash Tomer of Elets News Network (ENN).

Learning House and the Online Learning Consortium recently surveyed academic administrators of higher education to understand what these decision-makers are looking for right now and what lessons they’ve learnt from their implementation strategies.

Majority of the surveyed individuals either called out technology specifically or gave examples of innovations that required new technology. Some of them equated innovation with the technology.

A lot of higher education institutes are now taking service of resources and manpower to replace obsolete teaching-learning practices and technologies on campus with the latest innovations.

But how many have a grasp of the state of innovation in the higher education space?

While the implementation of new, cutting- edge tools is essential for planning innovation in any campus, decision-makers should understand what innovation means for higher education institutions to make informed decisions for a campus integrated with latest technologies, best practices and simultaneously catering to needs of primary stakeholders i.e. students.

Dr Harsh Sadawarti

Dr Harsh Sadawarti, Vice Chancellor, CT University

Explaining the need of Innovation to impart quality higher education, Dr Harsh Sadawarti, Vice Chancellor, CT University, says, “New technology age calls for ‘Innovate or Evaporate’. Though India ranks high in higher education (HE), yet lot needs to be done.

“A strong research segment will make India a tech-power rather than technology follower. Universities must identify with activities like Make in India, Start-up India in new technologies areas (cyber security, robotics, digital technology, artificial intelligence, data-science, block-chain, internet of things, etc.), Technology Parks, Skill India, etc.”

Understanding user needs

It is essential to have an idea before taking a plunge into a digital solutions project. One way is to understand the needs and wants of all players within the institution, from students to administrators, is by creating the most effective innovation strategy.

The efforts of a university should always be broad enough to pave the way for innovations, yet narrow enough to know where to start. To help frame the challenge, the institutions must ask three simple questions:

  • Who are the users and what benefit the institute is trying to provide? This helps put the students at the centre of efforts for innovating a new practice or technology.
  • Why is the innovation needed? This helps broaden the frame if it’s too narrow.
  • What are the challenges or future risks in implementing the innovation? It will narrow the frame to a reasonable starting point.

There are several innovative practices adopted by higher education institutes across India and globe that are supposed to transform the lecture delivery methodologies. These technologies or practices not only supposed to enhance their knowledge but also likely to update their technical skills and also the working habits.

Following practices in higher education are supposed to redefine the higher education ecosystem:

E-Learning

A report issued by Global Market Insights in September 2017 found that the eLearning market, already estimated to be worth $150 billion in 2016, will grow at a rate of over 5 percent annually during 2017-2024.

E-learning, which is education through the Internet or network, is a part of new dynamics that characterises the educational system. It has become an important part of the society, comprising an extensive array of digitalisation approaches, components and delivery methods. Increased usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for educational purpose and the spread of network technologies have caused e-learning practices to evolve significantly.

E-learning refers to use of electronic applications and processes to learn. It includes web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms and digital collaboration. The contents are delivered through the Internet, local intranet/extranet, audio visuals, satellite TV & CD-ROM. E-learning is used by learners and educators in homes, schools, higher education, business and others.

“Internet and digitisation have potential to transform HE sector. A new wave of innovation is poised to providing e-commerce experience to students and it can prove best practice in higher education. Faculty must be provided sponsored hands-on-exposure to industry for six-months in say every five years to keep abreast with the latest,” Dr Sadawarti adds.

Short Lecture Methodology

An innovative teaching and learning methodology is a short lecture. It is the method in which a problem solving case study is discussed by the students who are organised into groups and who interrogate the responses of fellow students.

Student involvement is essential if learning is to be successful. The lecturer as the facilitator is tasked with guiding and promoting student interaction. The practice encourages interactive teaching superior to didactic teaching and the former greatly improves academic success and promotes the inclusion of students. Nowadays, collaborative learning is required and there should be far less reliance on the large lecture format that is followed in most of the higher education institutes.

Simulation and Role-playing

In these methodologies, the idea is to create a workplace scenario that students could encounter in real life. Such a method will allow students to develop their social skills essential for their respective industries.

Role-playing and simulation promote an evaluation and synthesis of the teaching material while practically allowing students to learn by doing something. Simulation of scenarios and interrogation of case studies, involving staff, are useful in problem-solving and in developing the argumentation and analytical skills among students required in the world-of-work.

Such exercises promote understanding and deep-learning that are the prerequisites for long-term knowledge acquisition. This methodology does require planning by the lecturer who must have clear objectives regarding the learning outcomes.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) for students is a flourishing approach to enhance their learning. It is extremely useful to encourage critical and analytical thinking among them and also helps in addressing the rapid technological changes in the dynamic workplace of 21st Century.

This approach to education suggests a strong role for factors such as authenticity, as well as student independence, and is principally associated with the encouragement of deep learning. In this approach, a range of selected constructive problems are designed by the lecturer to address the desired learning outcomes.

PBL is an approach to learning that incorporates relevance and complexity of thought.

It also provides an opportunity for self-assessment and continuous improvement on the students’ part. The approach also promotes self-esteem as students acquire important discipline knowledge by their own initiatives and the students take ownership of their education. What makes PBL unique is the fact that it is self-directed learning and addresses challenges and seeks solutions to problems using strategies that are encountered on a daily basis in real life experiences in the industries concerned.

Blended Learning

Blended learning, which combines online and face-to-face pedagogy, is a fast-growing mode of instruction as universities strive for equitable and alternative pathways to course enrollment, retention, and educational attainment. However, challenges to successfully implementing blended instructions are social presence, or students’ ability to project their personal characteristics into the learning space, can be reduced with student engagement, persistence, and academic achievements. Instructors are also experimenting with robot-mediated communication (RMC) to address these challenges.

Blended learning, which combines online and face-to- face pedagogy, is a fast- growing mode of instruction as universities strive for equitable and alternative pathways to course enrollment, retention, and educational attainment.”

Nurturing Employability

Embedding employability in higher education framework highlights the process, principles and premises underpinning employability and the elements which contribute to and support it. Drawing on academic research and best practice, the framework enables an inclusive approach. Empowering staff to truly own their approach to employability is critical. Collaboration with stakeholders is essential to inform design, content and delivery of programmes of study that support and enhance employability.

Structural shifts in global economy, productivity enhancement and technological progress are driving demand for highly skilled workers, innovators and knowledge workers.

India is well-positioned to cater to the changing requirements of the labour market in domestic and international markets due to favorable demographics and large output of higher education graduates. While the Indian higher education system has made considerable progress in terms of capacity creation and enrolment especially in the last decade, adopting the latest innovations will help the sector to be at par with the global standards.

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