By Anuradha Uboweja
The earliest use of technology can be traced back to around 3.5 million years ago when tools such as hammers and anvils were used by our genetic ancestors, the Australopithecus, as discovered in Lake Turkana in Kenya. Homo sapiens then invented fire about a million years ago.
Technological inventions and innovations have shaped human evolution – from the hammer and anvil to fire, from the Neolithic invention of the wheel to the modern Internet; so that human progress simply cannot be separated from technological advances. If anything, technological advances determine human progress.
The pace of technological advances has accelerated since the late 18th century with Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, the internal combustion engine, the automobile, electric lights, radio and airplanes, enabling instant communication between everyone and the location communication and the exchange of ideas became irrelevant. Technological advances have greatly influenced education.
Throughout modern history, the classroom has remained the core of education. The source of information was limited to the available books in the library or in the local bookstore. Higher education was possible for the lucky and deserving. But then the first personal computer in the early 1970s and later the World Wide Web in the early 1990s brought about a paradigm shift. What was possible but never implemented was forced upon all of us in the wake of the 2020 global Covid pandemic. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
As the world came to an unprecedented standstill, tectonic shifts occurred in the world of education. Adjustments were made, but technology took over to ensure no child was left behind.
Traditional classrooms gave way to online courses. Platforms and products for the education sector sprang up like mushrooms overnight. Access to education remained open only because of earlier technological advances that were readily available to address an unexpected problem.
However, there is still a lot to be achieved. Until now, technology has only addressed the surface issue of access – access to unlimited online resources and access to an expert on any topic from anywhere in the world. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Technology must become the catalyst for redefining education, enabling a move away from memorizing and memorizing to an education system that develops the art of critical thinking and reasoning.
Technology and education must now move forward together; Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for the education system to keep up with the advancements in the technology sector. Today, a high school student from a small town in Himachal Pradesh can take an online course at Harvard University—it’s the new benchmark for access.
With a willingness to learn, he has every opportunity to further his education from anywhere in the world. In the very near future, Harvard could offer college degrees in many subjects to anyone with a fast internet connection.
The information on the Internet is much more interesting and entertaining than the way it is taught in the classroom. In addition, distance learning has reduced the cost of education and allowed all reputable educational institutions to offer distance certification programs. As student capacity is unlimited, access is no longer the privilege of a few.
With all these opportunities, the Indian education sector is now at risk of losing its audience of 250 million students to homeschooling, self-learning, or to innovative, inclusive schools that give students the freedom to personalize and customize their educational experience.
“More is lost through indecisiveness than through wrong decisions. Indecisiveness is the thief of opportunity,” said Marcus Tullius Cicero, the famous Roman lawyer, writer and orator.
Indecisiveness not to challenge the current protocols and practices of our educational system will harm our future generations – 19th century curricula cannot meet the needs of the 21st century. The demands of the 21st century are far more alarming than we realize. We can no longer just teach our children the tools if we have not shown the uses of the devices.
We need to use technology to fundamentally change our teaching protocols.
For example, with access to the Metaverse, any student can acquire hands-on skills like carpentry and machine design without having to enter a workshop or design lab. Education is no longer constrained by the need for physical infrastructure and facilities. Tectonic shifts are happening all around us, but our educational system remains the proverbial dinosaur.
Wrong decisions can be corrected and rectified, but indecisiveness in redefining education will rob our children of future career opportunities if organizations don’t look to test scores and grade cards. You don’t look at certifications or where you graduated, just one thing – how to solve problems.
Because the future belongs to problem solvers.
Technology needs to redefine how we raise our children, shifting the focus to educating them to think critically, reason logically, and most importantly, have a voice of their own. Nrichminds.com works towards this vision of empowering children and enriching young minds through a portfolio of online tools and apps that help school children to think critically and become problem solvers. Vexors is a word-based puzzle that encourages the art of problem-solving and develops cognitive skills in inductive and deductive reasoning that traditional curriculum ignores.
The author is Country Head for Nrichminds.com. Views are personal.
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