Reinventing Teaching & Learning in New Age.
Previous History : At the end of a national Convention on Education in early 2000 I was among the group of organizers preparing for the next Convention a year from then. In the ensuing discussion, I pointed to the advent of “Computerized World” accelerating the pace of the transformational role in ‘Teaching & Learning’ process in Institutions of Education & Training. I added, ” Change beckons special expertise,manpower and infrastructure. The evolving challenges posed to the Educational Administrators, Faculty and Students are complex calling for fresh thinking and approaches. I suggested that the planned Convention should reflect the notion of GOOD-BYE TO THE OLD – Book (Print) learning of the last 500 years – and WELCOME TO THE NEW formats of storage,retrieval & interaction ON-LINE.” Everyone remained obmutescent for a moment.
Being all ears, Mike Oleson, the scatterbrained representative of the multinational firm that was an active promoter of the just concluded convention, solicited a tete-a-tete with me for his work on this issue. I was happy and apprehensive – happy that it was a big opportunity & apprehensive whether I can do real justice. Was it my talk in the just ended convention? Was it the fetichistic charm I exhibit in such an environment usually? Was it to test my knowledge & wisdom? I wondered. I consented nevertheless. We got on with the task immediately and detailed below is part of that :
Mike Oleson : I couldn’t be more excited to speak to you and you should be too.
Raja : Thanks. Glad to be with you.
MO : Please tell us what you see as the main change in the NEW system from the OLD.
Raja : The main change is the shift from ‘stable’ to ‘moving’ information. In traditional culture the info that stays the same is the KING. We read, memorize, and write from that. In the new culture it is the changing pattern of info – i.e. the most recent info; the one we seek to know; the one for which we are ready to pay that matters. Educationists and Administrators have to come to terms with this reality. One has to search for info, critique the info, and to make available changes that occur periodically. It is not unchangeable. It is just transitory.
MO : What is your opinion of the transition in the system for faculty or students ?
Raja : In the old system the teacher is regarded as the omnipotent, omnipresent, & omniscient (pun unintended) know-all on the stage passing the info. In the new system there is no distinction between teacher and learner OR expert and greenhorn. Both are participants. It is a mind-blowing transition. It is cyber education. The CRUSERS (my term for Creative users) will interact; do their own things; in their own time; at their own pace; with little control or order.
MO : Are there any trends you are tracking now that readers may like to know?
Raja : So far, students have been flocking to the university. Now the institutions will have to compete for students. Students will enjoy wide range of choices before them. More courses; Distant mode; Short/long-term; degrees in e:mail; on-line courses from prestigious institutions from the Globe. Education will be creative. The implication(s) will be – a huge reduction in the number of teachers; a huge increase in computer staff.
MO : What will be the nature of changes in the role of the faculty ? How will they need to adapt themselves to the new role?
Raja : It will be computer competence and not just computer literacy that will be the essential requirement. Every student will have a ‘personal digital knowledge system’. Faculty who once could be found in the library, staff/study rooms; preparing lessons or writing notes will have to create scripts; develop software; design/devise interactive games; or even deliver performance in studios. Adaptation to change will be the new “mantra”.
MO : With students having personal digital system and facility of access even in home environment, what opportunities you see unfolding ? What is its significance ?
Raja : We now live in a multimedia world. Future classrooms will witness a highly social environment; where students will be easily larking around; drinking coffee; even eating while working. These will become more common. New subjects will evolve. New forms of knowledge, study, critique, evaluation; Hypertext; computer games will emerge. Assessment will also see a significant change. Students’ “Interactive Competency” will soon become a key part of the assessment. What was transparent will become open, visible, and even subject to reflection in the new system.
MO : Finally, What kind of investment is essential to drive this form of education? What are its broader implications?
Raja : Administrators, faculty and students will have to function in a completely electronic environment. Everyone needs to be innovative too. Yes, it will need huge investment in infrastructure primarily. Courses have to be Global in nature; Quality needs to be guaranteed; Prices need to be competitive. “Education Industry” if I may use the term, will be an amazingly creative one with almost every country in the world participating in a decade or so from now. These are special times calling for special responses. We will also find educationists; computer specialists; artistes; and even media personalities forging alliances and transforming the very elemental composition of institution(s) in education. Education will be UNIQUE !
MO : Your views are quite stimulating, inspiring and revealing. Thanks for joining me, Raja.
Raja : It has been my pleasure.