Learning for the future...

Learning for the future...

Industry 4.0, the fourth generation industrial revolution, signifies the latest trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It brings in 'smart factories' where production systems become more flexible to meet the needs of individual customers too. Industry 4.0 demands enormous emphasis on creativity and innovation in the manufacturing processes, value chain, distribution and customer service functions, leading to disruptive and volatile changes in the industry and services sectors.

As per a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) report, by 2030, India is expected to be the fastest growing economy touching a GDP of $10 trillion and one of the youngest nations in the world with a median age of 32. The developed world is expected to face a skilled talent shortage of approximately 56 million by 2030 and is already looking at India as the future stock of skilled talent. This immense opportunity at the doorstep of the nation could become a liability if steps are not taken to prepare the education system to quickly adapt to changes with  education 4.0 protocols.

The education system, in order to capitalise this opportunity, has to gear up to embrace the change by bringing in changes in syllabus and course structures in various disciplines. When institutions quickly engage in creating new knowledge and learning systems, they will have an extended opportunity of meeting the industry's skilling needs. However, this emerging trend demands a very strong research and development, and equally strong intellectual infrastructure. Out education system should emphasise on the immense need to look beyond conventional knowledge resources and strategically utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) and the like to prepare future workforce.

The future of education calls for a new protocol in the form of Education 4.0 and mandates strategies to respond to the needs of Industry 4.0, where the development of new technologies can enable new possibilities. Education 4.0 demands a tactful harnessing of the potential of digital technologies, personalised data, open sourced content and life-long learning. It becomes imperative for the education system to understand the major shifts in the learning scenario which are being prompted by Education 4.0. Here's a look at some of the changes that Education 4.0 is bringing about:

Conquering time and place limitations: The future in education will be characterised by a definite winning on time and place concepts of learning. Students will have more opportunities to learn at different times in different places. E-learning tools facilitate opportunities for remote and self-paced learning. Concepts will be taught outside the classroom, while they become discussion rooms. Furthermore, the chalk and talk mode of teaching will be replaced with digital education media.

Personalised learning: Learning that is personalised will become the order of the day. This means  that learning will vary with the students' capacities. Hence, students who experience difficulties with a subject will get the opportunity to practice more until they reach the required level. The students will be able to modify their learning process with tools they feel are necessary. Students will learn with different techniques based on their own preference. Blended learning, flipped classrooms and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will emerge as important terminologies.

Learning becomes positive: As a result of personalised learning, students will be able to have positive learning experiences and increase their confidence to perform well. Furthermore, teachers will be able to see clearly which students need help in which areas.

Project-based: As careers are adapting to the future freelance economy, students will need to adapt to project-based learning and working. This means they have to learn how to apply their skills in a variety of situations.

Field experience: As technology can facilitate more efficiency in certain domains, curricula will make room for skills that solely require human knowledge and face-to-face interaction. Thus, experience in the field will be emphasised for various courses. There will be more opportunities for students to obtain skills  that are crucial to their jobs. This means, curricula will be able to create more room for students to do internships, mentoring projects and collaboration projects. The application of their knowledge is best tested when they work on projects in the field.

Shift from conventional examination methods: As courseware platforms will assess students' capabilities at each unit of learning, measuring their competencies through questions and answers might not suffice. The focus may shift to assessment of application of learning. It becomes vital to measure what students should be capable of when they enter their first job.

Data interpretation skills: Computer programs can take care of statistical analysis, interpretation and prediction of future trends. The human interpretation of these data shall become an important part of future curricula. Hence, assessing the data at hand will become a fundamental aspect of learning.

Student ownership: Students will get involved in forming their curricula due to the convenience of providing instant feedback about courses they are studying and faculty will know about student experiences on a real-time basis and can modify content and delivery systems to suit better to the learner needs. Ensuring a curriculum that is contemporary, up-to-date and useful is only realistic when professionals as well as youngsters are involved.

In an ecosystem of liberalisation of the learning process and consequent independence in learning, mentoring  and counselling continue to be extremely important. Teachers will always play a key role in guiding students in identifying, selecting and prioritising learning. Though the future of learning will have many 'Ekalavyas' who can learn through online and virtual modes, the teachers and "educational institutions are vital to academic performance as mentors and facilitators.

(The author is professor at School of
Management, REVA University, Bengaluru)

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