The next decade signals many rapid changes, and one of those will be in the education space. The advances of technology and thinking seen in the last few years will change the nature of the classroom as we know it.
Consider the picture of today’s classrooms. An amphitheater with a wizened old professor droning away at the topic of the day, with scarcely any attention being paid to his session by a large chunk of the class he is teaching. A few weeks later, only the diligent ones will remember a fraction of what was taught in class that particular day. This is a model designed to churn out factory and office workers on an assembly line, just as in the Industrial revolution.
As talent hunters will tell you, this is not the way to nurture the innovators and talented young leaders of tomorrow. Thankfully, by 2020 we shall see the end of this format. The wizened professor will be replaced by a panel of coaches, from different fields, teaching students how to deal with the practical world and its problems. Lecture sessions will be replaced by problem solving sessions where students work together from a number of streams to come up with new solutions from the integration of each proposed approach to a problem.
Several schools around the world are already adapting to this approach. For example, the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad has a curriculum where students work closely with companies like Hewlett Packard and Autodesk to understand the needs of customers. At Stanford’s Hasso Platner Institute of Design, students from engineering, medicine, business, law and arts come together to tackle real world projects. One of the products created out of the “d.school” as it is known locally is a warming device for premature babies in the developing world. The device is currently being made by Embrace, a company formed by a team in the school when they realized that developing world mothers have little access to hospitals, making a cheaper incubator useless without electricity. The current product is a creation of intensive thought, and costs just 1% of the price of a hospital incubator.
It is these kinds of experiences that will drive the learning of the future. As Sir Ken Robinson, a British researcher found, children between 3 and 5 show a 98% tendency to think innovatively and explore multiple options. By the time they have a decade of schooling, the percentage of students scoring at genius level is just one tenth of the batch. And this is a big red mark against the current memorize and test approach of the education system.
This level if innovation is something companies are looking to foster, and for obvious reasons. The number of such programs getting financial backing from the corporate world is increasing and the trend will surely spell the end of the classroom as we know it today.