New version drives education today

We are in the midst of a revolution, and the start of a new era of learning – Education 3.0. But are we – parents, academics, employers and industry - and our governments ready for it?

 What is Education 3.0?  There are multiple perspectives including seminal works from learned academics as well as concepts articulated by leading corporates both from a business as well as CSR perspectives.  Simply, it refers to the capabilities and practices relevant for education in the current age.  Whereas, I will touch upon some of the perspectives, notably those of professors Lengal, Keats and Moravec, I would like to put together my own paradigm of Education 3.0, as relevant in the Indian context.

Education should be the layer which helps develop and nurture society forward.  In the past, education (especially higher education) was a means of qualification and readiness.  That was the era of Education 1.0, when a degree made one ready to become accepted in a job and provided security for life. 

This was the Post-Independence perspective, and the focus was to become an engineer, a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer and so on.  Over the decades – and with the establishment of institutions like the IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, NLS etc. – what mattered more was from where, and thus the move towards accreditation and association took place.  This was Education 2.0, from which many of us emerged.  And this explains our current push towards getting the right degree and from the right place. 

Today it’s different.  The suffix 3.0 hangs on everything, and essentially denotes that it’s all changing. With this change, there is an added complexity and the boundaries get blurred.  A computer programmer needs to have an eye for design, an architect needs to have a feel for the environment, a professor needs to have connections within the industry, a patient should be able to converse and ask the right questions from her doctors.  Everyone needs to know about cricket and betting, but that’s another story.  And information is available at the click of a mouse. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a teenager today having been dumped with a thick Wren and Martin (whilst the parents are busy dude-ing themselves!). Why is it relevant to go deep into a given subject and not have an appreciation for others?  Why should one choose Science or Commerce or Arts, and therein too choose Physics or Chemistry or Biology?   In essence, we are no longer in an era where ‘a’ or even ‘the’ degree will suffice.  The age of qualification and accreditation is over.  This is the world of Education 3.0, where education needs to enable the search and the process of finding one’s own mojo.

So, what is required? At the onset, a change in mind-set!  We need a system which expands in scope and creates new institutions relevant for the modern day.  We need loads of collaboration amongst different disciplines, we need new age thoughts, we need to open up the doors to bring in skills from beyond.  And we need an industry which seeks out the diversity of talent which is essential to survive in the business of tomorrow rather than spend ergs hiring by the bagfuls for degrees.  And we need a government which spends its resources developing existing centres of learning to the requirements of today.  A Nalanda university is far more relevant than another IIT in the Minister’s constituency!

 Around the world, education has moved the classroom to be available when  and where you want it, and the homework of the past is what is done in the class.  The teacher is a facilitator and mentor, and quite the handholding is done by peers.  The spate of MOOCs (by the way, try Coursera.. you’ll love it) just shows the groundswell of demand for learning what you love and what you want, and not what is prescribed.

 Let the youth explore, let them discover and let them learn on their own.  Let them identify their cause, nurture their passion and find their own mojo.  Give them the power of Education 3.0.  Give them the power to explore. Stable jobs don’t exist anymore, not even a single career exist now. It’s an age of multiple careers. Be prepared for a world where you not only change your job but change your career path every 10-15 years!

(The writer is a visiting faculty at the Indian Institutes of Management, Ahmedabad and Bangalore)

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