By Dr Sunil Rai,
Higher education is that stage in a student’s life where they are probably going to make the most important and toughest career decisions. Therefore, it is upon a university to impart relevant, valuable and applicable education to them. Now how does a university do this? Simply put, by upgrading and becoming relevant themselves.
It is prevalent that technology has impacted every aspect of mankind at an unprecedented rate. We have gone from inventing cars to electric vehicles, printing press to 3D printing, the telephone to mobiles and so much more. Today, it can be safely said we live in a digital world where, technologies and concepts like augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, brain-computer interfaces, chip implants, biometrics, metaverse and social media are prevailing.
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Such radical shifts in technology have made it necessary for universities to overhaul their teaching practices and align themselves with the new age technologies. Universities need to keep pace with these technological advancements by updating their educational blueprint, amending age-old curriculum, forging meaningful and relevant academic collaborations and industry tie-ups, and upgrading their infrastructure and knowledge tools pertinent to the future of technology.
Why is there a need for universities to evolve?
Technology has percolated every industry, profoundly changing the way we live and work. Globally corporates are looking for students who are well versed in modern technologies and can add value to their firm. There is but a gap which exists between the corporate ask and a student’s knowledge which needs to be filled by universities.
For example, the metaverse is a growing area of interest for everyone today. And why not. A parallel universe that was once only a part of Marvel movies is now a reality. Activities in the metaverse are already gaining traction with investors, marketers and businesses buying virtual real estate, creating virtual islands, and building digital restaurants with home delivery features. And while we are just scratching the surface there is more to dig in the metaverse. And so, companies are hiring talent that can fulfil their metaverse dreams.
Technological innovations have indeed altered and revolutionised the way businesses function. What once was thought to be impossible is being made possible. Businesses can now anticipate their needs using the data that consumers generate online, intelligent virtual assistants are transforming how businesses interact with customers, AI software can create images from only verbal prompts, electric cars to self-driving vehicles that can travel anywhere, robots performing tasks with precision, AI fighter pilots to 3D printing, which promises everything from printed bones to budget home construction.
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All of these profound and exhilarating technologies demand for skilled professionals which call for universities to up their teaching methods.
What should educators do?
For starters, educators should not wait for change to happen but pre-empt, anticipate and stay ahead of the change. They need to establish a contemporary learning environment. Our teachers need to be exposed to technological advancements and training, so they are aware of the changes and create an impact while teaching.
Secondly, we say students are the future of our nation and rightfully so, which means our education system starting from the teaching methods to the curriculum taught needs to be futuristic. Evolving is necessary for a university because that defines the kind of education being imparted to young minds. While we prepare our students to be leaders of tomorrow, our curriculum cannot be that of yesterday. Our curriculum needs to be revamped and new age subjects like AI, Robotics, 5G communications, Blockchain, Cyber security and forensics, gaming, biomedical engineering, genomics, biotechnology and so on. Third, forge meaningful industry partnerships. While the industry is moving ahead, its demands and need for professionals is also changing. It is always best to get experts from the domain to teach students which give them the right exposure and knowledge.
And lastly, the infrastructure plays a very important role. Universities need to ensure state-of-the-art labs and equipments so that students can practice and get hands-on training.
Technology is a potent instrument that can assist and improve education in a variety of ways. To alter education such that effective and efficient education is accessible to everyone, everywhere, it will be up to universities to make the most of the potential offered by technology. Evolving with technological advancements and disruptions, universities will surely be able to provide a fruitful experience to both students and professors.
(The author is Vice-Chancellor, UPES, Dehradun. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)