Creativity demands space

Leverage Education institutions should adopt new-age technologies to improve learning.

A lot has been said and written about the education system of India. How it is geared towards rote learning and sufficient time is not spent on teacher-student interaction. How critical thinking and discussions are not initiated by teachers who feel more comfortable in imparting facts through textbooks. How practical, hands-on learning is shunned to favour a more traditional approach to teach young, inquisitive minds. 
The question arises what exactly can be done to bring about a systemic change in the very fabric of the country’s education system. The first step is to make a marked shift towards new-age education practices or technologies that are being applied and their impact on efficient learning.

New-age education practices tend to lean towards a practical hands-on learning approach where the focus is on creating an engaging learning environment. The students here are encouraged to make decisions to achieve their desired outcome. This also helps them in developing critical thinking skills rather than relying on their retention skills. Rather teacher being the central focus, sync engages the class in meaningful discussion. 

So, how can we disseminate new-age education practices in classrooms while maintaining a balance between student-teacher interaction? Well, the focus should be on imparting education using modern tools like digital technology. Rediscovering traditional ways of learning through touch, sound, movement and visuals can help develop an intrinsic interest in learning, researching and collaboration.

Now, we must ask ourselves the question of whether new-age education practices are really affordable? There’s no doubt that an initial investment pumping is needed to get things started.

Some of the other investments considered while appraising new-age education practices’ affordability are:

Capital Costs: Though capital expenses tend to be on the higher side, their costs are usually one-time in nature. Capital costs include expenses related to the procurement of equipment such as projectors, whiteboards, monitor screens, etc.

Typically, the initial cost of setting up a makerspace is high but over its life, it gets subsidised as you sign up multiple batches of students.

Production costs: These costs include making videos and other course materials. Moreover, one has to factor in the cost of hiring skilled staff like web designers, audio-visual specialists, etc., for creating content.

Delivery costs: This pertains to instructional time spent by teachers interacting with students, on marking assignments and the time of other staff supporting delivery, such as teaching assistants and technical support staff.

Furthermore, delivery costs tend to rise with the increase in student numbers and its recurring nature due to a repeat of the process every time the course is offered.

Maintenance costs: After you are ready with your course material, you need to maintain it. Sometimes, the URLs may go dead, the course material may need to be refreshed or phased out due to new developments. Maintenance typically may not prove to be a time-consuming thing for a single course, but if a teacher or instructor is involved in maintenance or revision of multiple courses, then it may inadvertently affect the maintenance time.

Overhead costs: These costs, also known as infrastructure costs, generally involve the cost of licensing a learning management system, servers to host video streaming and lecture capture technology. These costs are generally spread over a number of courses rather than assigned to a single course.
It is very palpable in the country as you can see a marked shift towards integration of curriculum-based education centred on robotics. Schools across the country are setting up robotic clubs and makerspaces as new activity centres. 

Even though the cost consideration can seem to be slightly daunting, it should be viewed as an initial and a dire investment. Our focus should be on developing a future-ready workforce.

This is only possible when students are provided the right environment where they are encouraged to ask questions, critically analyse problems and keep abreast with new skills. So there is a great responsibility for the education system of the country to prepare human resource to face a challenging future.
(The author is founder, Avishkaar, New Delhi )

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