Many young minds today do not get to achieve their ambition of making it big in the corporate world, simply because there is an unfathomable divide between their education and industry requirements. The core problem lies in the educational institutions not being able to cope up with emerging needs of the corporate. Dr Hari Krishna Maram speaks about Vision Digital India and how it is helping students to make the cut in a highly-competitive industry. Excerpts:
What is the global trend in digital education and how is India doing?
Ans: Schools are slowly observing technology as a chance to develop ways of teaching. No matter what the age of a person is, nearly everybody owns a smartphone today. Google is our library, Wikipedia is our book of facts and Kindle is our textbook. At a time like this, learning to change our teaching methods by incorporating technology is the best way. India has already started implementing many techniques in order to bring about significant changes. Smart classes where teaching with a whiteboard, chalk and markers are now a thing of the past, and teachers have shifted to making use of projectors and eLearning systems to impart knowledge. Teachers are sending notes, references and other information online to encourage students to adapt to the new techniques. Online tests, quizzes and assessments, are replacing general homework these days.
There is a huge divide between education and highly-competitive industry requirements. Why are our educational institutes unable to bridge this gap and meet the growing corporate needs?
Ans: A large number of social and economic problems regarding social group pressure, inadequate infrastructure, poor quality of academics, non-current curriculum and the like play a major role creating a disconnect between education and the industry. There is a need for radical transformation of the education system and a reorientation and assessment of all tutorial programmes to inspire students to develop skills that have value content surpassing the specialised information and experience. To perform effectively in an exceedingly dynamic and technologically enabled work world, we have to stop, disassociate and re-format by relating education to the present scenario and assessing students on their thinking and problem-solving skills, increasing access to education by the utilisation of technology and improve student-teacher ratios.
How is your ‘Vision Digital India’ doing in this line of preparing students to be industry-ready?
Ans: With the industry requirements becoming more and more specific, it is important to nurture skills that will help students fit into job roles that are offered. We interact closely with the corporate and they share their own experiences. The courses we offer are very contemporary. It can be on digital marketing, data analytics, machine learning and many more trending courses depending on the demand from the corporate sector. By bringing the real world into learning spaces, we are making students get a feel of things to look out for when they actually join the workforce. We are regularly engaging with the practitioners in the industry to share resources who can run independent programmes that would help in building a more skilled talent pool of prospective candidates.
How can other educational institutes join Vision Digital India’s mission and impact/reach out?
Ans: Our mission is to make people equipped with contemporary technology and tools. Keeping this in mind, we have been giving training in courses like digital marketing (Google Certification), IBM Cognos Insight and IBM Watson Analytics (in association with IBM). After doing a lot of study and research, we have developed many courses in such a way that engineering, management or students, executives from other fields will be in a position to understand the concepts and learn the subject. With other institutions joining hands, we will surely help people acquire the required skill sets and help them attain good career opportunities.
You are a globetrotter and often keep meeting experts, educationists, technocrats, diplomats, policy-makers of different landscape and capacities. In the context of digital education, what are the common issues or concerns you come across in your discussions?
Ans: Some of the key issues addressed in our discussions are the lack of sufficient skill development for teachers who are required to integrate new technologies into their classrooms. Rigid lecture-and-test models of learning are failing to challenge students to experiment and interact in informal learning. There is a gap between the vision of delivering personalised, differentiated instruction and also the technologies offered to make this possible. Failure in using technology to deliver effective formative assessment practices is happening as a consequence of these changes.
The issues and solutions that you have raised in this interview, how well are they addressed in Draft National Education Policy, 2019? What is your impression about the scope and coverage of the policy?
Ans: National Education Policy ignores the ground realities of research quality in higher educational institutions but sets enormous goals for the country. The policy envisages that all higher education in India will become multi-disciplinary by 2030. The new education plan will give us graduates who are creative and can adapt to critical thinking. Their multi-disciplinary training will ensure that they always remain employable even as single-disciplinary jobs become automated. However, all of this will be of no use if there is no implementation on the ground. The crux of the matter is implementation. Vision without action is a shallow thought. One of the fundamental aspects to achieve the NEP goals is the quality of teachers. Perhaps a strong minimum wage policy along with qualification can bring in the necessary change.
What would be the future trends in digital education in India by 2025 and how should Indian educational institutes be prepared for this?
Ans: By 2025, we will observe some drastic changes in the education system of India. We will have customised learning experiences that make learning more personalised, make information and knowledge accessible around the world and use real-time communication tools with the help of IOT to share homework assignments with parents. We know that learning needs should continue to evolve and technology and tools can actually help to enable that. Our world is changing into a place where we can rapidly learn anything and in many fields, our experience is only a small part of our ability to learn and achieve. The future of education is exciting and scary at the same time. Schools and education must evolve to embrace new learning techniques to captivate students, while concurrently maintaining integrity of the knowledge in areas like literature and history that help create well-rounded people. That should really be at the core of our change and digital transformation efforts in education.