MOOCs for skills for prosperity and success in the 4th Industrial revolution

MOOCs as enablers for prosperity and success in the fourth Industrial Revolution :

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum in his book ‘ The fourth Industrial Revolution’ launched at the Davis 2016 drew attention to the possibility that we have just transcended the 3rd Industrial Revolution into the beginnings of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

India benefitted from the establishment of the IITs in the 1960s ( the first set of B.Tech graduates from IIT Kanpur came out in 1965) and its products were ready to benefit from the 3rdIndustrial revolution. IIT Kanpur benefitted from the KIAP program supported by a consortium of nine US universities (namely M.I.T, University of California, Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Carnegie Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Case Institute of Technology and Purdue University) helped set up IIT Kanpur’s research laboratories and academic programmes.
The IIT Delhi benefitted from UK collaboration, the IIT at Madras from German and the IIT Bombay was supported by the USSR.
But the future is about providing everyone who wants to learn with an opportunity to learn, at affordable costs, and MOOCs have amply demonstrated that this is the way forward. So a model that is gaining ground is for learners to adopt MOOCs as a low cost global flexible solution to massify tertiary education.
Apart from the well known initiatives such as Coursera, edX, FutureLearn and many others, in India the MHRD has taken an initiative named SWAYAM which stands for Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds.
But with all the availability of a huge quantity of high quality learning materials as MOOCs, the pursuit of MOOCs by the age-appropriate learners has been rather low, and MOOCs have been actively pursued by experienced professionals for updating their knowledge.
In my view there are two broad reasons for this:
The first one is the lack of ‘recognition’ of these courses towards University credits, as most young people are chasing qualifications as a priority. One gathers that the UGC is taking some steps towards this.
The other is the lack of preparation by the learners to pursue MOOCs, for which there are several factors. The first and foremost in the lack of readiness is the inability to understand the contents presented in English. Learners from MOOCs would have to have English language skills in listening and reading at B2-C1 levels of the CEFR scale to negotiate their learning with the MOOC resources.
MOOCs in India, must therefore not be limited to English, but be available in several Indian languages and MOOCs in Hindi should be a very high priority. Like Diglot editions of many official documents, all new MOOC development must be simultaneously in English and Hindi as Diglot editions.
The other and even more important is transforming the traditional ‘passive and reluctant’ learner to an ‘active and inspired’ learner. Only a very small fraction of the student population who are expected to pursue MOOCs will fall in the category of ‘active and inspired ‘ learners which is built into the name and acronym of SWAYAM.
Without providing for these essential prerequisites, the attempt to deploy MOOCs as a solution for massify cation of higher education will be yet another failed experiment, having failed to anticipate all aspects of the MOOC ecosystem for learning. And we have heard ever so often that ‘ Failing to plan’ is ‘ planning to fail’.

But in addition to MOOCs based alternatives to traditional courses, if we have to prosper and flourish in the 4th Industrial Revolution, we must develop competencies which assure ‘future readiness’. According to ‘ The Future of Jobs’ report, which is a 167 page report released by the World Economic Forum in January 2016, { } with the sub-title ‘ Employment, Skills and workforce strategy for the fourth Industrial Revolution’, there is a list of 35 core work-related abilities and skills organised as 9 clusters, which I have placed below for easy reference:
These are
1. Cognitive abilities:
* Cognitive Flexibility
* Creativity
* Logical Reasoning
* Problem Sensitivity
* Mathematical Reasoning
* Visualization

2. Physical Abilities:
* Physical Strength
* Manual dexterity and precision

3. Content Skills:
* Active Learning
* Oral expression
* Reading comprehension
* Written expression
* ICT Literacy

4. Process Skills:
* Active Listening
* Critical thinking
* Monitoring self and others
5. Social Skills:
* Co-ordinating with others
* Emotional Intelligence
* Negotiation
* Persuasion
* Service Orientation
* Training and teaching others
6. System Skills:
* Judgment and decision-making
* System Skills
7. Complex Problem Solving Skills:
* Complex Problem Solving Skills
8. Resource Management Skills:
* Management of Financial Resources
* Management of Material Resources
* People Management
* Time Management
9. Technical Skills:
* Equipment Maintenance and Repair
* Equipment Operation and Control
* Programming
* Quality Control
* Technology and user experience design
* Trouble shooting

Of these they have further identified the top 10 skills required in the global workplace in 2020.
It is worth noting that creativity which was listed at number 10 for the year 2015, has very rapidly moved up to number 3 in the list for 2020

1: Complex Problem Solving
2: Critical Thinking
3: Creativity
4: People Management
5: Co-ordinating with others
6: Emotional Intelligence
7: judgment and decision making
8: Service Orientation
9: Negotiation
10: Cognitive Flexibility

We can look forward to a future where we can impart new skills needed to a very large population over very short periods. But the action plan this time has to be more swift, less strangulating and in a more enabling environment.

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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1 Response to MOOCs for skills for prosperity and success in the 4th Industrial revolution

  1. some excellent points made Prof Pant.

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