• ICSL

Education 4.0 Is Not Far Away: What Could Be The Challenges?

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

G. Balasubramanian | Chairperson, Board of Advisors, ICSL | Editor-in-Chief, The Progressive School


Let us be ready………………. Education 4.0 is not far away in India!!


If you think we are still struggling with E 2.0 and how we would leap jump to E 4.0, please note that we might be by-passing a generation of experience; And that is what happens when the speed of production is faster than the speed of consumption. Tornadoes start like a small whirlwind and then move with a speed that initially thrills, but subsequently makes everyone in the community to look with a sense of awe, curiosity, fear and anxiety. But then it is all over in a few seconds… The speed and the impact of the tornadoes don’t wait and offer an opportunity for a long-drawn research finding. To me, it appears that in the next ten years the way school education in this country is going to be impacted is anybody’s guess. I am not complimenting the national policies which would define what education would be or would act as catalysts to such change; but, yes, certainly some of them would be real roadblocks for such a sweep, yet they would also give some facilitations for change, because it cannot be otherwise. A few reasons why I sense this –


Informal learning will force formal learning to change its course.


While our education institutions would be fighting with policy makers, affiliating Boards, forced curricula and compliance issues, learning will largely outside the roof, buildings and authenticated classrooms as flow of information and emergence of new knowledge patterns would gravitate learning as a living necessity rather than a structured developmental and growth facilitative social recommendation. Given the vastness of gap between what the structured Institutions and Boards profess as a viable knowledge capsule, and what happens in the knowledge dynamics of a social system fashioning with new knowledge and skills at every dawn, the gateways for informal acquisition of knowledge would open in every nook and corner of the country. While many of these advocates would be neo-entrepreneurism assuring the consumers Midas’s touch, who intend to make fortunes before the next dawn, with their survival being challenged at every dusk, learning community would use them just as elevators for their curiosity to move to the next level of knowledge and skill architecture found elsewhere. The increasing irrelevance of the curricula and the objectives for which they are being injected will be short-circuited by living necessities that haunt the new daily routines will force ‘learning beyond’. Possibly, the acknowledgement of one of the Boards of education in the country to “Home schools” is just the first ray of light coming from a different planet. Informal learning with time and space free packages in its basket, with no reward- punishment tags attached, with no statements on comparative and competitive learning, will aggressively promote the ‘self-learning’ styles of the learner which in turn is nurtured by one’s self-esteem and the urge for an outreach to an open world.


Machine learning will run a race with human learning.


The technology enabled machine learning has already found its place of grandeur in the portals of industries and research corridors. Increased substitution of human endeavours to mechanized humanoids, auto-management systems and other technology interventions would increasingly replace the style of production, distribution and consumption. Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things and Block-chain interventions would increasingly and intuitively understand human needs and drive the thought dynamics systematically meeting selective and focused needs where options exist, and creating needs in markets where they don’t exist. Thus thoughts, feelings and emotions of humans would be managed externally by well-articulated business systems. Synergizing the social media activities with personal choices of individuals will be a game-changer in the business economy management. All these would need learners who have pre- established networks in their brain systems to attune themselves to the futuristic of this technology dynamics. Markets and social networks would prepare the learners towards this direction aggressively defeating certain basic foundations of the educational philosophies. The utilitarian aspect of learning will predominantly define the essence of learning and thus the education boards would be driven to the wall to periodically make their course architecture relevant and sustainable for the community. One might feel the urgency of establishing private boards which would be willing to meet the newer and unlimited challenges as the current formal structures would be worn out due to their unwillingness to move from their linear path of learning and expectations to structure experiences in their familiar established domestic terraces.


Artificial Intelligence as curriculum designer for individual learners.


The role of Artificial intelligence is being debated across all functional domains of the world. While it has indeed made several inroads, which have made the people to raise their eyebrows either wonder or with anger, a number of areas where its intervention would redefine the social architecture of the future generation has not even been predicted. One such arena is that of education -particularly school education. The content designs, the pedagogy, the inter-active platforms for personalized learning, an on-going automated evaluative process and quantified award systems which are machine generated would offer a spectrum of new learning and operational experiences to the learning community, in which the teachers and educators would be an integral part. Interactivity between human intelligence and Artificial intelligence would open infinite ways of communication and limitless opportunities for synthetic thinking, laying foundations for newer universes of thinking, innovation and functionality. Artificial Intelligent systems administered by core content developers might design, offer and implement learning content and structures for every individual in the shortest period of time. Educators, might end up discussing several of the ethical issues in administering such models forcing the technocrats to be continuously evolving and finding answers for their questions.


Native knowledge and experiences seeking level playing field with global practices


With the fear of being marginalized or being written off as a part of history, the native knowledges and skills would force their way in, seeking rightfully, a place that is equal in honour and profit to all other imported knowledge systems. The conflict that would arise in ensuring a reasonable balance will be the ball game in the playground of politicians and civil servants. Interestingly, all the native knowledge and skills which were available at a cheaper cost and had easy access, would now seek a positional cost equivalent to their contemporary players, thus the community of service providers would now shift their paradigms as profit seekers. However, there is every likelihood of unearthing the ‘unexplored domains of knowledge’ to repack them in newer capsules to suit modern outfits. The learners – across the entire living age spectrum – would seek such knowledge capsules to remain current and contemporary.


Newer concepts of evaluation and certification


The emerging scenario will render most of the time-tested evaluation packages redundant. As the focus would be to make ‘everyone a winner’ – as it suits a good market play and is revenue facilitative innovations in the field of evaluation and certification is bound to happen rejecting the ‘classical age of examinations’. With focus increasing on testing skills – both contextually and continually – the Boards of education will step out to join hands with partners for progress and to ensure professionalism. The validity of such certifications will be continuously questioned for its worth, thus making the examinations – more as built-in systems of a learning process, rather than as outhouses of the medieval bungalow. Numerically awarded indicators will become more qualitative with mention of specific competencies in words.


New Generation Teachers


The pride and pleasure of using the term “Teachers” is indeed never subject to any question or a debate. It heralds in itself a glory that has few parallels in the history of professions across the world. Nevertheless, the profile of a teacher is fast changing and E 4.0 gen teachers would be required to be more of ‘thought leaders’ rather than ‘information brokers’. With the role of textbooks –be it governmental or private – becoming mute witnesses in the opera of learning context, the New Gen Teachers for E 4.0 will offer ‘blended learning experiences’ – time and space free, enabling each learner to choose one’s own design of the learning curve.


Education 4.0 is indeed along the roadside now. We need to increase our level of awareness – to stay awake to open the door to welcome, lest we miss to visualize an interesting part of a civilizational journey.


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