I had written about the various learning styles that are there a few weeks back and how understanding the learning style that suits you best will help each one of us to improve our learning efficiency dramatically …The lock down period has also brought about a few changes or rather shifts …My daughters have completed one semester through online classes and they keep sharing some of the difficulties that they face on a daily basis in adapting to the new normal…I also have old classmates who are teachers now who share the challenges that they face while taking classes through online means…
Meanwhile the Indian government has also announced the new education policy which if implemented properly could drastically alter the way education or learning has been happening…Moreover whenever I open the Sunday newspaper I find at least two full page advertisements about learning apps..
But before I actually get into let me share a personal experience that I had which I think would get altered with the new education policy…I had taken admission to a part time PhD programme about 7 years back…I was on a high after getting the admission as I had qualified through a rigorous written exam and interview for this well-known institute…
As business professionals we run into day to day challenges which are diverse and which challenge your experience levels…We always find a solution to each and every challenge that comes up and always finds ways to keep growing your business…However most of the learnings from each of these experiences would stay with me and my team which we would probably evolve as thumb rules when encountering such situations in future, Some of these would also become part of the company best practices…I was looking forward to the programme to learn or identify a successful way in which these learnings could be understood from a research perspective to share these learnings to a wider audience. I had no intention of taking a career shift and was also clear that this course was in no way going to help me develop and grow in my career the way I had envisaged it to grow…So the jobs to be done had been clear for me..This was the case of the majority of the people who had enrolled for the programme.
What I found in the institute was a modified version of the normal full time programme…the only difference being that instead of maybe visiting the university for all five days a week you could visit the campus for 10 days which included two weekends once in every 2 to 3 months.
Everything else including programme content, delivery ,processes and assessment systems all remained the same…While the Jobs to be done were very different for the participants in both the batches, what was being offered by the university was exactly the same..
On the contrary let me share the success story of a university the South New Hampshire University which by identifying the right jobs to be done that the concerned students were trying to address was able to build a huge and profitable business… Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) under the leadership of its President Doctor Paul J. LeBlanc has grown from 2,800 students in 2003 to over 135,000 learners and is the largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the United States.
Even in 2003 ,The SNHU ran both online and normal programmes but like the experience that I had used to treat both the programmes as two sides of the coin…every process from responding to enquiries, financing options to programme delivery were treated in the same way… When SNHU identified that the requirements (Jobs to be Done) were very different for the people taking the online courses and modified their process to address the same that they became hugely popular and profitable..
The above example shows the present standardised nature into which our education or learning process has fallen into .The key elements of the education process are the learning process and the assessment which is done to check if the concerned person has understood the learnings…The present teaching delivery that we use is one of mass delivery where the teacher teaches what that person feels is the best to make the students understand the concepts ..Like explained in my earlier article each person has a prominent learning style and this will explain why we always found learning one subject easier or we found teaching by one particular teacher to be easier to understand..
But this kind of mass education or learning is only a 100 years old…As learning originated it was a very personalised way of teaching…We know about Gurukuls in India and about the Shaolin temple in China and about Jesus Christ having twelve disciples.
Here the students and teachers lived together, and the teacher imparted all his knowledge to his students. This kind of personal teaching was so intense that the teacher knew everything about the student including his weaknesses. Malayalees will remember the movie called “Kayamkulam Kochunni” which portrayed the real-life story “Kochunni” in the 19th century in the state of Travancore. The movie depicts how “Kochunni” learned the martial arts and how his teacher knew his student so well that after so many years also he could tell weak point in his defence which would eventually lead to his capture.
With the start of industrialisation, the need for more educated and trained manpower started growing…This led to the creation of the teaching and assessment methods that we know of today. Teaching methods were teachers teach to hundreds of students leading to varying levels of learning and understanding of what is being taught…
Assessment were basically brought about for the below reasons:
· To understand if a person has mastered a subject or material
· To understand if they are ready for progress
· For comparison and ranking between students
· To get an idea on what percentage of the subject has been mastered by each student
As per the assessment method that is being followed today a person is promoted to the next level if they score above 40 or 50% marks. Technically it means that if a person has learned 50% of what was expected of him he is considered good to be shifted to next level.
What this leads to is people being at the same level of learning administratively while being at different levels in their knowledge level…So we might have a person who is studying in the 10th grade but whose knowledge of algebra would still be at the level of the 8th grade…In the case of Biology the same person might be at the 10th grade level itself.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get the same personalised learning which we had followed a century ago? Maybe this unexpected lockdown has set in motion a sequence of events which could very well lead to the same…Due to restricted movement we have been having online classes for students starting from schools to professional colleges.
Both teachers, students and parents have now got used to this. Similarly assessments also during the lockdown have shifted totally online ..Under normal conditions this change would have taken us years to bring about. This is what disruption does…
The lockdown has also brought about the following new shifts:
Companies like Coursera have been offering 30,000 courses free for about 1000 students of each college. During the initial phases several institutions also were not really aligned to take up online teaching these institutions have grabbed this opportunity with both hands. Assuming at least 50% of the students would have sampled these Coursera courses it has brought about a huge sampling for their courses which would have otherwise taken years to accomplish..
Companies like Google have established their intentions to get aggressive in this space…This will also lead to better and more efficient products coming out in the personalised learning space…In addition several companies have launched education products which are targeted at providing learnings based on the present learning levels of the students…Like I said in my earlier example we might have a student in 10th grade whose algebra knowledge would still be at that of 8th grade…With these personalised learning products the learning could actually restart from the 7th grade level.
Online education platforms
Like e-commerce platforms am anticipating these platforms to become the next growth story… Udemy an education platform revenues have doubled in the first quarter of financial year 2020 ..As per my understanding this trend is only likely to grow…The growth of platforms like Udemy is also likely to bring in two sets of non-consumers into the education space..
Platforms like Udemy provides the option to anyone including individuals to upload and sell courses on their platforms. Many of these courses are very short term and skill related which would not be offered by any university. As I said in the beginning this is addressing two types of non-consumption.
It is prompting several working professionals to take these courses offered to build on their skill levels. It is also providing a platform for industry professionals with wide experience, but who are not from the traditional teaching faculty to build courses based on their industry experience…It has even started a trend where students create teaching material for other students..
The supporting networks in a system are what we call as the Value Networks…In the case of the educational system these would include the following
• Which will include people writing the prescribed textbooks
• Will also include agencies involved in printing and the Sale and Distribution of these textbooks
• National, State and Local Boards
• These boards decide the curriculum to be followed for each course
• They decide the institutes which get approved and affiliated
• The number of seats that each institute can offer for each approved course
• The norms for faculty
• Content delivery to student
• Teachers training
As we move away from the present teaching and learning methods these value networks also will undergo and change and will need to modify to suite the new normal. One the biggest hindrances which usually prevent such dramatic changes in the huge power that these value networks wield…The Lockdown has drastically altered the situation which would normally have required years to change.
Govt approval for online courses
Another hurdle which has prevented the dramatic growth of these courses which are provided by different platforms were the lack of Government accreditation. The Government of India has started the process to build the process and parameters for accreditation of all such courses
New Courses to be offered as per New Education Policy
As per the New Education Policy students have the option to select wide range of courses as per their personal choices. Most of the education institutions do not presently have the capability to offer many of these courses and will have to find options to provide the same as per requirement
Am reminded of this interesting study on US and Japanese car company assembly lines which was done by Steven Spear…
In this study they were trying to understand what made the Toyota assembly line so unique when everyone had also imbibed the concept of the assembly line from the Japanese. .So while the US car companies had implemented the assembly line a new recruit would be provided training on all the 10 steps of the assembly line that he would have to do on the first day and he would be on the line from the next day…At the Toyota line if the first step that the new recruit would have to do would be put the front driver seat in its position he would just do that activity till it reached perfection before more activities were added to his work…So while the US car companies and a large pool of inspectors to recheck all the products coming off the assembly line the Toyota system with hardly any inspectors had a better quality product ..
So while our present learning and education system is like the US assembly line the lockdown induced changes we will love into a Toyota kind of learning system…As we further progress on this path educational institutions and teaching as we know today will evolve rapidly. Institutes will also face competition from unexpected sources like say a Google…
Whether the institutes will adapt to the new normal or get swept away like a Kodak camera or a Nokia Mobile only time can tell…