The human species has undergone a radical transformation. The hominoid of primitive man was called Ape and now we are in the App generation, where change is accelerating.
Advancements in communication mediums have enabled people across the world to share ideas in a matter of seconds. Google has brought most knowledge to the desktops and encyclopedia has been replaced with Wikipedia.
The Net-generation is globally connected, creative and innovative. We can reach out and connect with them in their learning space only by changing
our thinking and providing them a sea of specific information.
A report titled ‘Leadership 2030’ zeroes in on six global trends — accelerating globalisation, climate change, demographic shifts, increasing digital lifestyles, individualisation and valuing pluralism, and technological convergences.
Moreover, the demographic composition across the world is fast changing due to cross migration. According to an estimate, 79 million people migrated from poor countries to developed ones. A UN report predicts that at least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the richer parts of the world every year from now until 2050. These changing times demand multiple educational methods, which are invariably flexible.
In fact, education has become more informal and is now done through manifold ways such as online, distance learning, open learning, virtual and continuing education. The Unesco’s Delors report on education for 21st century presents two key concepts — learning throughout life and the four pillars of learning — to know, to be, to do and to live together.
In this rapidly changing scenario, the purpose of school is undergoing a paradigm shift. Schools are transforming into incubators for high order skills, chiselling of talent, teaching children to control impulses and developing sense of self.
The future schools would centre around learner autonomy where students choose what they will learn and how they will learn. They will even choose how they assess their own learning.
It is, therefore, essential that pilot groups of original thinkers be formed in each school to act as incubators for change to facilitate advancement of knowledge and competency. The focus would be on science of learning.
Cognitive flexibility, grounded cognition and mental modeling would be the focal points of future learning. Metacognition, ie, thinking about thinking, knowing about knowing, becoming aware of one’s awareness and higher-order thinking skills would dominate the core agenda in schools.
So, schools would witness a sea change and undergo unprecedented overhauling, especially with regard to its delivery models. Schools of the present day would be replaced with free schools or self-directed schools, which would be like community-style centres open 24/7. Students would learn to manage, innovate, transform and share in these centres.
They would see and hear teachers on e-gadgets in virtual classrooms. Schools would follow multi-disciplinary approaches by drawing appropriately from multiple academic disciplines. All students would have individual learning plans. There would be learning by kids rather than teaching of kids.
Homework and projects submission too would go entirely online, through dropbox and a Learning Management System would be developed for each school. Classes would be held online or through YouTube and Google Hangouts. Each class would have a website, wiki and Google classroom. There would be sharing of screens among learners. Digital portfolios and virtual conferences would be the new learning platforms. Pen and notepad would be passe and learners would use digital notes on tablet, iPod and e-mail the content.
Schools will rely heavily on computer simulations for academic work. There would be extensive use of digital technology and wireless networks.
Educational programming tools, apps, flipped classrooms, mystery Skypes and simulations would dominate the new learning models. Massive Online Open Courses would be in and group projects through collaborative software will pick up. The generation next will also abundantly use cloud to store their work.
The future learner would be self-directed and derive more knowledge through peer group collaboration and alternative channels like social media. They would also learn a lot in an e-learning environment, which would help develop augmented learning.
The future teacher too would be a scholarly professional well-versed in techno-educational practices and be at home with a multi-disciplinary approach. The e-Teacher would leverage technology extensively as a learning aid for both scholastic and non-scholastic activities.
Moreover, academic work in future would take place primarily through unconventional cooperative learning. The teacher would perform the role of a facilitator, spirited life skills practitioner, have intellectual flexibility and help bring coherence in curriculum design.
A prospective school leader would essentially thrive on three maxims; learning, leading and innovating, thereby creating impact, influence and inspiration. The prime focus of the leader must be on radically changing the school in line with new learning technologies and systems.
The new school leader would no more hold a hierarchical position. Instead, s/he would be more of a coordinator who is leading a collaborative initiative. A key role of the new leader would be to develop leadership among all partners, and especially teachers, for teachers need to be good leaders as well to know the art of nurturing pedagogy.
So, a school leader’s focus has to be on enabling collaborative partnership, developing shared vision and systems thinking. The schools of the future would be symbols of dynamism that exploit technology as well as new learning and management systems to delve deeper in the pursuit of knowledge.
(The author is Deputy Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Regional Centre, Hyderabad)