For the information age, student-centric learning processes is the way forward, says a well known academic Prof. VS Rao, President, NIIT University. Here is what he has to say.
What do you teach a generation that has grown up on instantly available knowledge and information at a click of a button? Given the relentless change in technology every day, how do you provide education that will help build future-ready talent? As fresh talent is churned out every year, there is a pressing need for employees to be skilled and productive as soon as they are hired. The NASSCOM Perspective 2025: Shaping the Digital Revolution has clearly identified the need to build people capabilities. Moving towards digital will require addressing the re-skilling needs of over 3.5 million IT professionals as well as the needs of over 230,000 fresh entrants each year.
Technologies for the future
In another study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, NASSCOM has identified eight technologies poised to grow globally in the coming decade, along with 55 job roles and corresponding skills required for those technologies. These are AI, VR, Robotic Process Automation, IoT, Big Data Analytics, 3D Printing, Cloud Computing, Social, and Mobile – clearly not the topics taught at conventional universities. The fact is, students of today will need to work in a future where AI is the reality and tech skills will be a crucial part of their day-to-day jobs. Also, the one size fit all teaching won’t work for this bunch that practically has different degrees of smartness. Addressing it individually is just humanely impossible for teachers with a class strength of 50 or more.
The need of the hour then is individualised curriculum that is mapped to the speed and knowledge levels of every student and plugged into the future with Blended Learning. That’s why, the curriculum at NIIT University has been drafted by experts to be the right mix of research and industry relevant subjects, taught through project based learning. In being on the same wavelength with the future and building a strong learning foundation, the undergraduate students here are expected to work on an R&D project in the first year itself. But what’s most interesting is that one-third of credits of the programme can be customised by the students so that they can build their career based on their own prior exposure to the subject and their desire to learn something new. Such a model of education puts student’s interest first, acknowledging their voice but at the same time fostering critical thinking and innovation.
In addition to this, a separate optional minor certificate programme that runs parallel to the degree course is also offered so that the students have a plan-B ready as well. In addition, students get credits through co-curricular activities as well. That’s how student-centric learning requires them to be active, responsible participants in their own learning. With such a method, you’ll notice a high degree of student engagement and enthusiasm because they not only know what they are learning but why they are learning it as well.
Another interesting aspect is how the blended-learning model fosters student-centric learning by providing a live and engaging interactive experience that goes beyond the core content. It puts the learner into the driver’s seat, allows him to learn at his own pace and involves peer-interaction and collaboration for significant learning. Personalised learning, driven by purposeful technology and the constant assessment, feedback and mapping of knowledge, helps them to be better students. Because such learning is integrated, it could be availed by students at the college, recent graduates or working professionals looking to upskill themselves. It aids a lifetime of learning and futuristic talent development for learners. In fact, several organizations in India and abroad are integrating student-centric blended learnings in their overall talent development plans to bring in range and flexibility of skilled workers. Therefore, it is the perfect time to adopt student-centric learning and make way for a scalable 21st Century classroom.
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