Education has an excellent value in our society. It has two-pronged benefits, primarily, it shapes the behaviour and attitude of learners in line with society’s expectations. Secondly, it helps learners to acquire knowledge and skills for their optimum success in life. However, as humans, we need to realise that life is dynamic and is bound to change with cultural and technological evolutions. Currently, the world is witnessing rapid digital transformation which calls forth the education system to adapt and integrate the changes.
In line with this, visionary leaders and policymakers across the globe recently transformed the trajectory of the education industry to meet the changing dynamics, demands and aspirations of the population about quality education and innovation. As John Dewey rightly said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday we rob them of tomorrow”, in the light of the given quote, the new changes are in line with the ongoing Industrial Revolution 4.0. There is no iota of doubt that the education industry is directly impacted by the Industrial Revolutions. Precedently the world has witnessed smooth collaborations between the industrial revolutions and education.
The evolution of education can be traced down from the stage/era/time of Education 1.0 where the students were the passive recipients and teachers were authoritarian. The approach followed was teacher-centred and the usage of technology was merely a pipe dream. Followed by this was Education 2.0, which brought a few changes like, communication and collaboration started to grow between the teachers and students, the inclusion of technology for sharing and learning was observed, and usage of projectors in class to exhibit the learning material via slides became prominent. Education 3.0 was like a fresh breeze in the evolution process of education, the approach was student-centric and teachers had a new role of facilitator of knowledge. Moreover, technology became a part and parcel of the teaching process. Flip classrooms, problem-solving approach, self-directed and blended learning were the quintessential features of Education 3.0. In hindsight, if we talk about Education 2.0 or 3.0-they were merely evolutions.
However, Education 4.0 looks promising and watershed in its approach. The teachers no longer would be the centre of learning rather they would be the facilitator, the dot joiners and pedagogical coach who would lead the learning process. Education 4.0 envisions transforming the education system in line with rapid technological and geopolitical evolution. Usage of technology and automation is the heart and soul of Education 4.0. The much talked about technology in education 4.0 encompasses artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things (IoT), big data, cloud computing and smart technology.
India, the land where education is worshipped, welcomed the idea of Education 4.0 (hereafter, EDUC4) with open arms in May, 2020. It brought 40 partners from various agencies like EdTech, Academics, start-ups & government to unleash the potentiality of fourth industrial revolution technologies in the education industry. The objective of Education 4.0 is to bridge the gaps and shortcomings of conventional teaching and learning. It envisions making learning student centric and flexible. With the ushering of the 21st century, the world witnessed an unprecedented medical emergency, COVID Pandemic. Technology emerged as a blessing in disguise. There was no single sector which didn’t make use of technology to its best abilities. COVID Pandemic exposed the loop areas of traditional teaching and learning and also gave a spurt to the initiative EDUC4 in India. The initiative of EDUC4 India is the need of the hour as the usage of technology in education would also lessen the inequality in access to education among school children.
Visibly, the initiative has invigorated the spirits of schools, colleges and universities to level up themselves. Under the flagship initiative, recently it has been observed that prime institutions of our country have launched massive open online courses (MOOC), virtual libraries, virtual labs and virtual educators- sweeping the way for technology in the education domain for a better tomorrow.
The status quo of the initiative was recently tracked by WEF in the report, ‘The Education 4.0 India’. The report identified gaps and curated interventions for the same. The gaps were identified under four themes- foundational literacy and numeracy, school- to- work transition, teacher- professional development and connecting the unconnected.
The forerunner of EDUC4, WEF, in the past has also rolled out the framework for the same which acted as a blueprint for countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. All of them are getting hold onto the ideas and vision highlighted in the framework and are redesigning their curriculum in line with the demands of 4IR.
Looking at the dynamics of change, there is an imperative need for EDUC4 in schools. Reason being, as it involves technology and encourages the use of smartphones and tablets as supportive tools in the classroom, it aligns with Gen Z’s interest in education. This transformation to technology in the classroom could be embraced by both the pupil and the teacher. Moreover, EDUC4 replaces the erstwhile uncoordinated methods of teaching-learning and opens up a wide arena of online assessments, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and environment.
EDUC4 is innovative, fosters creativity and 21st century skills among learners and prepares them for AI economies. Another important aspect of EDUC4, is that it promotes a student- centric model. Under this model, students would be allowed to choose what they wish to learn. The learning would be customised according to the interest and aspirations of the students. The method adopted for the learning process would be project- based and would encourage students to learn interpersonal and time management skills. Moreover, for a student to move on to the next level, a certain level of expertise would be mandated .EDUC4, next in line, also promotes inclusive education by promoting digital learning and eradicating the divide between haves and have- nots.
The success of Education 4.0 entirely depends upon its implementation. A smooth collaboration of digital solutions with physical interventions can pave the way for the initiative. The vision can be best realised by roping in multi-stakeholders i.e., public- private partnership, a higher degree of prioritisation of pilot testing, establishment of core digital foundation and connectivity, technology interoperability and scalability in conformity with the norms set by NDEAR, financial resources and lastly by the promotion of the idea, ‘think big, start small, scale up’. In addition to this, EDUC4, also emphasises on the teaching tools that could be adopted to achieve the goals, viz., visual learning, personalization, gamification, connectedness, project based learning etc.
Many schools across our country have started working towards this vision. There is a visible redesigning of the curriculum as students in 9th grade are being offered a choice between AI/IT, virtual learning has seeped into the domain, learning through games have become a part and parcel of teaching.
The new suggestions propounded in EDUC4 are like a fresh breeze. The approach is futuristic and has been absorbed in the country’s latest education policy, NEP 2020. The CBSE board has even mandated the introduction of AI in the secondary classes. Understanding the modern demands, the new curriculum framework is also revamped and in line with the goals of NEP. EDUC4 in all respects is a leap forward in the education system.
(Dr Priyanka Singh Niranjan is Assistant Professor at Amity University, Noida)