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Redefining higher education in digital era
We are all touched by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) in the world of business. Universities need to prepare students to deal with it
Today, the significance of the internet and subsequent digital innovations that touch each of us almost every day is undeniable. In this VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world of business, there is hardly any function that has remained isolated from a digital revolution that has disrupted almost all legacy processes. And if this is the case, one must question how our higher education institutions have reacted or acted to reflect this change in society.
Both students and teachers are now increasingly familiar with the usage of tablets, electronic boards and online platforms. Universities and education policy planners must rethink their operating models and re-define the outcomes of the higher education institutions in this digital era.
Our current educational models seem limiting when viewed from this lens. Students adapt to the teaching styles of the faculty and their learning objectives are pre-determined by the faculty and, thus to an extent, restricted by the scope of the prescribed books. Any new learning from the world beyond is therefore, limited. Incorporation of technology in our teaching methodology stands to remove such limitations. But this would call for changes not only in our teaching practices, but also in our current examination systems.
To ignite this transformation from ‘education’ to ‘learning’ would require us to re-design our curriculum as well as the pedagogy to suit an examination system that is focused not on recall ability of a student in a course work examination, but on the ability of a student to synthesize a set of information for a desired outcome. Would it be entirely undesirable to provide an extended open-book exam by even allowing access to Internet during an exam? Is it impractical to have an ‘all-resource-access’ exam to encourage students to support their answer with solid examples? Answering questions like these would give us insights for this transformation from ‘education’ to ‘learning’.
Implementation of such an 'open-resource' examination system stands to remold the entire education system. The faculty should be ready to face this new digital pedagogical model — which would require considerable planning to come up with new teaching methods, and evaluation standards. Also, in this case, question-generation becomes a larger issue. In trying to prevent the students from being able to find any such existing solution, the examination questions would have to become more complex and challenging.
A major problem that does exist in the current ‘closed-book’ examination system is the plethora of hi-tech cheating options that are available to those who seek unfair means in educational pursuits. As newer clandestine technologies emerge, educational institutions will have to challenge it with better plans to arrest these new ways of cheating, and devise solutions to run examinations in a fair manner.
All of these challenges aside, the rewards from such an open system do seem to benefit the ultimate center of our educational system - the student — who would not just gain from reduced stress during the exam due to an increased sense of control, but would also be involved in a more research-oriented or thought-based learning process. With the business world rapidly moving towards newer technologies like Block Chain and IoT, can business-education be far behind? We are now talking about ‘flipping the class’!
(The writer is Director, FORE School of management, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal)
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