Educators

Education in Our Networked Future

As we enter the Connected Age, our education systems are increasingly falling short. We have carefully crafted and refined the education system, schools, vocational colleges, and secular universities, but they are edifices of different ages.

There are three reasons why I say so.

First, we have moved from a time of information scarcity to information abundance. Today’s challenge is not to access information, but to check its credential and to be able to use it in context. But our prescriptive education is mostly about ‘knowing’ things rather than ‘discovery’. The school system is designed to discourage inventiveness and questioning. The students are still required to write memorized answers rather than Googling the facts and building independent or collaborative coursework.

Moreover, the education system today is built as Value Chain systems. The focus is on the Process, and the whole idea is to add value to a student who turns up at the beginning of the semester so that she can meet the end-Semester requirements. But such standardized processes are, by definition, inflexible to accommodate the diverse learning preferences of individuals. Mass-produced education also discriminates against niche subjects and special interests. This education system fails to meet its societal need – because making accountants out of artists does not sound like a smart idea anymore.

Finally, today’s learners come to college after seeing a computer at home for their entire lifetime, having their mobile phones since their school days and most, if not all, have their best friends on Facebook or Orkut. They come from the long tail world of endless, special, personal possibilities. So, the college, the classes, the tutorial batches are suddenly very alien to them. The only way education can become meaningful to today’s learners is by connecting back with life.

So, at one end, I hear the …

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