DH Education: Learning beyond borders

Students can now opt for a rare combination of subjects and develop a unique skill set. REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE

Conventionally, pursuing a course means specialising in a particular skill and being oblivious to other fields. Conventional courses that have a foothold in the education sector include medicine, engineering and management. However, in the 21st century, taking up a course is not just about specialising in one subject but rather about taking up a rare combination of subjects coming together to form a skill. For example, if you have a strong grasp of finance and data analytics, you can consider working in the field of Financial Analytics, which has a huge market in today’s world.

Many of the careers and courses that are trending today are all about making interdisciplinary connections. Blending different subjects has brought in a trend where the students can specialise in not only their favourite subject but also form connections with a number of other subjects. The education sector has undergone a paradigm shift with the introduction of interdisciplinary courses.

Follow your strengths

With numerous specialisations, courses, and career options available, many students are left befuddled as to what they can do next. Whether to do courses that offer employment prospects or follow the core strengths? Well, the first thing a student needs to do is to identify his or her core strengths. Then opt for a course that matches the core strength. There is a place for everyone in this world if you could define where you fit in best. Students can consider doing a variety of combinations that can help them pursue an interesting career. For instance, if a student wants to pursue Arts, it is fine. But a combination of Arts with Chemistry may help students enter emerging careers such as art restoration.

Around 25 years ago, no one would have thought about possessing a touchscreen mobile phone. App developers did not exist and Android was just a word. The driving force behind these changes is technology. The exponential pace at which new and cheaper technologies are being introduced has led to the emergence of new areas such as educational technology (EdTech). A love for history with knowledge of technology will enable a person to create her own course or design a software that can help one teach history. Knowledge in finance combined with technical know-how will help one create software programs that can form the backbone of financial institutions.

While there is a need for specialists, skills obtained by combining multiple disciplines are also growing in demand. Let’s take the example of Data Analytics. The data required for analytics can come from different fields like sports, finance or social media. Knowledge of sports with skill in analytics will enable one to go that extra mile required for achieving success. Apart from these, areas such as marketing analytics, predictive analytics and financial analytics have greatly changed the way the world does business. 

The rise of machine learning and automation has sown the seeds of fear in youngsters about its impact on employment opportunities. However, machine learning or artificial intelligence is, in fact, the combination of Psychology with Computer Science. This means that to create AI, you need to have knowledge of computers and psychology. Again to apply the same in the education sector, you need to have the knowledge of pedagogy, the subject, and the technologies used in the industry.

Interdisciplinary approach

The interdisciplinary approach towards education is reflected in the designing of courses as well. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), considered a hub of science and technology, have come up with a range of new courses in Humanities and Social Sciences. Acknowledging the importance of arts to society, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) have come up with a combination of Science and Humanities courses. Some of the reputed universities have even introduced entrepreneurship programmes.

The need to incorporate Mathematics into different disciplines has been recognised by universities across the world. For instance, in the field of economics, Econometrics has become the new favourite. Econometrics uses mathematical methods to describe economic systems. Leximetrics is another area where Mathematics is used to assess the efficacy of legal systems.

Conventional courses have also witnessed the interdisciplinary approach. Mechatronics is a discipline where mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering have come together to form a new field. Beginning as a combination of mechanical and electronic engineering, it went on to include a permutation and combination of other fields as well. As technology advances, the number of combinations will also increase.

All these new trends point to a changing world and the fact that combined skills are the need of the hour. This paradigm shift with combinations of various subjects coming together to form a skill has been recognised by companies too. For instance, Project Oxygen conducted by Google to analyse its employees yielded surprising results. Through the project they found that it was not only one’s expertise in technology that made one successful, but rather it was the combination of skills, including soft skills that made great managers.

This shift can be seen the world over. The emergence of new fields and the increasing importance of making connections across subjects makes it impossible to predict what lies ahead of us 10 years down the line. This means that we should equip our kids with learning skills that are essential for future.

Steve Jobs, while dropping out of college, decided to take calligraphy classes without the faintest hope that it would ever have a practical application in his life. Jobs was the first to introduce typography into computers, 10 years later. The relationship between calligraphy and computer programming was not something that anyone would have imagined in the 20th century, but it happened.

Following the subjects of your choice or anything that you are passionate about should be acceptable. After all, you never know what the world will look like in the future.

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