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The New Era of Learning

In just the first two decades of this century, we have seen the entire world change so supremely that it almost feels as if the world has shrunk and most of this can be attributed to all the technological advancements that the human race has made in such a short period of time. In this connected world, everything from people to jobs to businesses is changing to adapt to this new scene. Education is also evolving in this era and let’s talk a little more about it today.

Education, as google defines it, is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. We may wish to think google has all the correct answers all the time, but it might not be completely right here. This definition is outdated for today’s world. Humans no longer need to learn to follow a certain set of instructions to get a job done, we have machines to do that for us now. The world is embracing creativity and people require skills and innovativeness to be able to do well in this era. And this change has given rise to this new era of learning.

We have all been brought up in an education system where your ability to score was based on how much you could remember and not on how much you could understand. Maybe that’s the reason why we have friends who scored highest marks in class but failed to do so well in their professional life. But the schools or colleges can no longer just focus on theory-based learning. We don’t need to remember everything today; we have devices in our pockets to do that for us. So plainly, change was inevitable.

Everything that you may wish to learn is available on the internet. You don’t even need to pay a hefty tuition fees to access all this information. But the need for a good formal education will never go away because it not only teaches you a certain set of necessary skills along with professional skills but also provides you an environment where you can learn to apply those tools in the real world. For instance, you might be able to learn a skill on the internet and if you are dedicated enough, you might even become very good at it. But professional skills are not the only skills that you shall need to land a job or start a business, instead there are other skills and values such as communication, time management, punctuality, and other values that are needed for the real world. Some of these inter-personal skills are really hard to learn sitting behind a screen while others will only get polished when you are placed in a fostering environment. The real question remains, how should the classroom learning evolve to fit the needs of this era?

Human beings are exceptional creatures and all of us are unique. We all have different imagination, creativity, talents and a distinct mind. It would be wrong to compare the excellence of Picasso with Newton; it is like comparing apples and oranges. Both of them belonged to the same species and yet they had their own different talents and abilities that they excelled at. We all understand that the concept of judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree is fundamentally flawed. Hence, the education of each student needs to be tailored to their particular needs and abilities.

In order to better understand this notion, let’s look at it this way; education is a business. In fact, it’s a 100+ billion-dollar industry just in India. When you pay the tuition fee, you become a customer and in business, Customer is the King. When you pay for a service, it needs to be adapted to your preferences, not the other way around and it’s time that all of us demanded that change.

Even though, it was difficult to tailor a standard course to each student’s requirements until a few years ago but, in today’s world, if your digital assistant can make calls to book appointments on your behalf, it certainly can understand your learning patterns. You can get all the knowledge from books and your time in the classroom should not be misspent on reading from books which can be done by you on your own time and at your own pace of understanding. There already exist platforms that offer Adaptive Learning wherein the computer analyses your learning patterns based upon questions from your reading to help you understand the concept better. It highlights the excerpts based on your understanding so that you can grasp the knowledge at your own pace.

Classrooms need to evolve to places where learning takes place through interaction and experience. It should be a place where you learn not just from the book but also from your peers and your mentors. A good teacher will be able to mediate the discussions and guide you through the learnings from each interaction. It should be an experience rather than a lecture since you are more likely to remember experiences than some words that you read in a book or hear in a class. And if you’re thinking that even after understanding the concept, you still need to mug up the words in a book to score good grades, I would urge you to reconsider. Because development of communication skills is a key part of an effective education. If you are unable to express yourself through words, those good grades that you scored by rote learning aren’t going to benefit you much.

Over the years, we have also seen the examination patterns change with more focus being given on the continuous evaluation of the students following a holistic education experience. Just like the learning experience, the examination can now be focused on being tailored to the student’s capabilities and we can finally be able to judge a fish by its ability to swim and not by its ability to climb a tree.

The above writing has been based upon my own personal experience. Recently, I joined the Global Family Managed Business (GFMB) program offered by the SP Jain School of Global Management, Mumbai. Although due to the current crisis, our classes have not been able to start, but for an introduction to the course and the respective businesses of all the students, interactive virtual sessions were conducted online for 10 days. The learnings from those interactions have been so pronounced that it has amazed me that the most learnings that we receive will be from real-life experiences, not just our own experiences but also from the experiences shared with us by others. By inculcating the Adaptive Learning in the course and transforming classes to live interactions where each student shares their perspective, the course feels like it was made especially for me. To my belief, that is where our education system is heading and sooner rather than later, all of us will experience this change.

With the changing world, we need to change our mindsets and approach. We need to understand that education is not a privilege anymore and it is upon us to get best value from it and remember to base our learning on experiences because

Theoretical Education will fetch you good grades, but Realistic Learning will get you success.

P.S. I was overwhelmed by the response received on the last post. I am new at this and am relying on your feedback to learn this art. So, keep sharing your views and don’t forget to share this post with your family, friends, neighbours, online friends, followers and anyone else you might come in contact with. 😉

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