The ideas of change and innovation in our world, which might seem like the only constants are in reality, (mostly) contextual.
Whenever we experience a time of massive transformation, our focus on ‘what needs to change’ is so high that the small matter of ‘what needs to stay the same’ often gets ignored and therefore, compromised.
In education in particular, some ideas are as true and relevant even today as they were 20 years ago.
Indeed, we want to champion an educational culture that has both the desire and ability to accommodate changes, but only those that are a must and solve some purpose.
Ephemeral changes are meaningless, but change in the right direction is evolution. The good thing about all evolutionary processes is that they don’t compromise on fundamentals.
The ‘teacher-student relationship’ for e.g. is as important today as it was decades ago and will remain so.
Teachers that treated me as an individual and cared about me first were the ones that I wanted to focus on working harder for in class, and outside.
Use of technology, therefore, would only make sense when it doesn’t hamper this bond, but instead allow us to build even better relationships than before.
This is not to say that ‘face-to-face’ isn’t important anymore (it is crucial), but the use of technology should promote better face-to-face connections, not worse.
Another crucial and timeless element in education is content. Earlier, a school was the only place that we went to gather knowledge.
Today, information is abundant and can be gathered from so many different sources. Yet, authentic information is as vital as ever.
Moreover, there has also been a desirable shift from a focus on retention to a focus on understanding and deep learning.
Reliance on memory will soon become a thing of the past. However, under no circumstances will the value of content diminish, ever.
Let’s take another example of a concept that will never grow old and that is ‘lifelong-learning’. I have heard this term as long as I can remember as a student and now as a professional.
What is new, are the opportunities for learning and the rate at which these opportunities are evolving. Nowadays, we start learning something new and even before we get used to it, there is a change (Hello new g-mail interface!).
Lifelong-learning will always be essential, but with technology, we have to get much quicker at it, which is not a bad thing at all.
So clearly, some ideas have stood the test of time and are deathless. During times of change, such as the one we are currently experiencing, it is these ideals that technology shouldn’t dabble with and uphold.
There is so much to learn from all of the great work that has been done in education over the years. When we talk of transformation, it is not to rid ourselves of the wonderful past, but to create something better with the help of it.
The recent pandemic had forced educational institutions to adopt unfamiliar technology and realign processes on the fly, with limited time to assess risks. Hence, this sudden rush to move to online platforms has been more of a problem than solution.
The true potential of these digital innovations can be realized only if they are integrated into a single ecosystem of all facilities, thus creating an end-to-end solution capable of generating powerful and meaningful processes connecting students, teachers, owners and all other possible stakeholders of an educational institution.
You can’t just create an app off your phone and say I’m going to sell this to a teacher or a student or an owner of an institute, it never works that way. It’s got to be integrable, adaptable, scalable and most importantly secure.
By being curious, collaborative, and open to new learning, we can truly inspire our students to not only be prepared for the real world but ensure that they make the world better than it is now.
FAHD ALAM HAZARIKA
(Fahd Alam Hazarika is a Guwahati-based journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)