IfTechnology is the answer, then what is the Question?

If Technology is the answer, then what is the Question? 

Modern progressive societies are all striving towards a paradigm shift ( Thomas Kuhn) from ‘education for a few’ to ‘education for all’ and from education for a few years 8,12,16 or 20 to life-long learning. They are responding to Alvin Toffler’s prediction that the illiterates of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn. These are all reflected in policy directives such as the UN SDG Goal 4, NEP 2020 and G-20 education working group.   Even more so for the world’s most populated country with great neurodiversity and increasing lifespans. 

This situation is reminiscent of the US Census story of 1880.  The U.S. Constitution requires that a population count be conducted at the beginning of every decade. The first Census in 1790, also made nonconstitutionally mandated distinctions by age and sex. In subsequent decades, many other personal attributes were probed as well: occupational status, marital status, educational status, place of birth and so on. As the country grew, each census required greater effort than the last, not merely to collect the data but also to compile it into usable form. The processing of the 1880 Census data was not completed until 1888. Responding to the challenge led to the use of punched cards for data processing and the birth of the computing company IBM. 

Teachers as unarmed soldiers in the battle against ignorance, which is now taking the form of an epidemic. Teachers have to be armed with both Technology and pedagogy or andragogy or heutagogy or whatever your favourite term is for the science of learning. AI can improve  the present teaching learning method by promoting active learning as espoused by the Physics Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman ( https://www.nature.com/articles/d42473-019-00339-6). 

If like many other educators, you are wondering about how AI will shape the future of learning, and how educators should take the lead, a good starting point is the book by Anthony Seldon “The 4th education revolution” (2018). Clayton Christensen’s “Disrupting Class”( 2008) will make you appreciate that the goal is not the mere use of technology, but the ‘personalisation’ of the learning experience.  And effective personalisation requires not only the ability to process massive amounts of data but also a  ‘Science of learning’ to make sense of the data. The Science of Learning may be the youngest Science, and not medicine which Thomas Lewis in 1983 hastily labelled as “ The Youngest Science”. Educators may also be surprised when they read Audrey Watters “Teaching Machines” (2021) to find out that the earliest attempts at automating teaching were attempted by Pressey in the 1920s and Skinner in the 1950s who were both convinced that their teaching machines would be “game-changers” for the education system. 

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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