Blend Is The Way Forward

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--By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury
Education Management has taken giant leaps in the era of technological revolution. The traditional brick-and-mortar education of delivering chalk-and-talk lectures in the classroom with the teacher speaking the last word, followed by memorizing notes from teachers or library resources, and finally evaluated through year-ending written longish examination is on the course of an inevitable decline.
We are moving to a co-created, convergent, participatory, learner-centric experiential-brick-and-portal education. I am aware that these are heavy jargon, and will attempt to explain in simpler words.
Gone are the days when syllabus of courses were made in ivory tower, delivered through the lectures of sagacious erudite ageing scholars, with recipients in awe of the guru. Now is the time to co-create courses and content in which learners and mentors participate, and in fact, even larger society (industry leaders, various professional groups, etc) participates. Co-created content, which is revised once in one to two years, is the only way to ensure education responsive to the changing reality around.
Education today is not a service to be delivered through a chalk-and-talk monologue with a bunch of awe-struck kids in front. At least, not anymore. It is an evolving dialogue between the learner and the mentor through offline and online means, in the physical and the virtual spaces, through books, talks, ppts, cases, video, multi-media, cyber resources, and the like. And, all of these are aiming at just one goal: it is to raise the curiosity of the learner and make her seek answers and details on her own. All channels of education from on ground classroom to online to on air to offline books etc converge on this goal.
All education today needs mentorship to make the learners talk, argue, build cases and scenarios, simulate, role-play, apply, imagine and innovate. A management education which does not make a youth go and sell an idea or a product, do a market survey, organize an event, or build a case-study is no education worth its salt. Participation within and beyond the classroom, inside and outside the campus is the hallmark of education that yields value in society and economy.
Education earlier was introduced, interpreted, delivered and limited by the teacher concerned. Not any more. Teacher is now the mentor, the facilitator, who introduces a theme and excites the curiosity of the learner. Impact and outcome of the process depends on the learner’s desire and search within herself and beyond. A mentor can only make the process interesting, faster and more enduring. Even evaluation has to be multi-dimensional and not just information based. Analysis and application must replace information cramming and rote learning.
Experiential Brick & Portal
Brick and mortar is the on-ground physical spaces of learning: the classroom, the library, the conference hall, etc. Click and portal is the online learning through portals, social media et al. Experiential, the most important aspect of learning, is by doing, through experiencing an aspect learnt, a technology understood, a concept comprehended. It is only through experiential learning that a raw talent becomes a human resource.
For such a learning to evolve, the narrow confines of traditional university courses delivered largely in theory and evaluated largely through a single course ending mega written exam need to give place to an alternative paradigm of flexi-learning, learning across spaces and multiple channels, and evaluation on a continuous basis through examinations, projects, assignments and debates etc, depending on the discipline.
This needs more care, more time, more resources and more involvement. All of these are in short supply. Both from those who deliver education, and those who receive and use it. The situation can change, and slowly doing so, only if bureaucratic old-school education yields place to modern-day new age education through new universities for the future.


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