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The curriculum of our future should be one that is dynamic, responsive, integrated and reflective of our world. Many of our education systems today still primarily rely on what was deemed appropriate and necessary for the industrial age. It is no longer sufficient to possess technical expertise and dexterity, and it has never been more critical to imbibe creative problem-solving abilities, the centrepiece of 21st-century skills, and the one that we as a planet abundantly require as we head rapidly into the future.
The curriculum is like a business plan, charting out the future of the learning ecosystem and landscape at the community, college or state level. The challenge is to keep the curriculum open and flexible. It needs to be reactive to the needs of the community and in-line with the technological and social advancements of the day.
The forward-looking curriculum should be devised, keeping one eye on the industry. Curriculum and course authors should have strong links with captains of the industry to stay aware of what skills are increasingly necessary for the workplace. To keep up with the technological advancements, our curriculum must be continuously monitored and reviewed if necessary. It must go through a thorough process of evaluation, and experts must make recommendations for change based on evidence received from academia and the industry.
Any curriculum that is designed to educate the young should necessarily contain elements that target all desired attributes in a student and not just some. There must not be any preconceived notions or existing biases while developing curriculum and the importance and emphasis must be equitable among the maths, sciences, language, humanities and the arts. Schools need to stress on the appreciation for the arts amongst its students so that the students learn to think in different ways and perceive the world from multiple points of view. Students with this experience will be the creative problem solvers of tomorrow.
Learning and Teaching Methods
Learning and teaching methods are the most critical areas of education. To make sure that the curriculum is delivered in an intended manner and has the right impact, there should be a focus on teacher development and enablement. The approach towards teacher enablement should contain strategies to engage modern learners of all types. Teachers should be allowed to express themselves and share their best practices with their peer network. The primary goal of teachers is to be able to engage with students and have meaningful discussions on various topics that stimulate their curiosity. Problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, active learning, and social learning are some of the ways students find the learning more engaging and these often lead to increased student achievement. The use of these methods more often than not, leave lasting impacts on students. Learning activities should be designed to let students engage in a wholesome manner and take charge of their learning by doing, thinking, communicating and collaborating with their peers so that the learning is immersive, experiential and not just theoretical.
Enter Online and Remote Learning
The students of the future are going to learn in different ways. The tools for communication and collaborative work with the help of technology have paved the way for a whole new way of learning, teaching, working, collaborating and socialising. The best minds from across the globe can now connect instantly, share best practices and local insights that provide solutions for millions of people both at the grass-root level and also at a global scale. Student learning must be supported with audio-visual representations of learning materials in addition to real-world simulations and problem-based approaches to learning. Students will find solutions working together in groups in their communities and also with peers around the world to help ensure a more fulfilling, relevant and globalised learning experience.
Almost all intended outcomes and more can be achieved via online or remote learning. Within disciplines that stress heavily on the use of language, creativity and intellectual ability, online learning can simulate almost every classroom experience. Students can research, communicate with their teachers and participate in group meetings all via the internet. Advanced organisation and productivity tools like Slack and Trello allow students to complete tasks efficiently independently and in groups.
For performing arts courses or other vocational courses where the practical application of knowledge and skill gained in a group setting is necessary like in the case of an ensemble performance, the blended delivery of learning can sufficiently augment online and remote learning. With technology developing swiftly, I am hopeful that any existing limitations to online and remote learning will also be mitigated to a great extent providing learners with the choice of which type of education they would like to pursue. On-ground on-campus, remote & online, online & blended or entirely self-paced and self-administered.
Written by Saurav Ghosh, Associate Dean, True School.