Orienting trainers for digital classrooms

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Published: August 15, 2016 6:35:30 AM

Students on the other hand, are quite adept at handling new technologies and they take the lead in approving and rating the new apps made available for the education segment

With the corporate world embracing digital technologies, organisations are increasingly looking for resources with a difference who could enable them to create a distinctive presence in the marketplace. They are keen that the resources they onboard have analytical skills, visioning skills, learning skills, innovation capabilities, social skills and problem solving skills at all levels in the organisation—not just at the top. This is because digital transformation is unleashing a virtuous change at a regular interval to the processes and interactions with various stakeholders at multiple levels within the organisation and within the industry and it is expected of employees to adapt and respond quickly to these changes. Hence in addition to reorienting the employees within the organisation towards the need for the skills mentioned above, the new generation employees organisations wish to employ are expected to have these competencies.

The mindset and the capabilities required to be successful in the digital era have to be developed while the next generation is still part of the academic system. Today we find in our classrooms—be they schools or universities, they are increasingly getting upgraded with the most up to date hardware, software and connectivity solutions. Academic institutions are vying with one another to showcase their impressive facilities and state of the art IT infrastructure. However there has not been a significant change in the pedagogy, the knowledge dissemination processes and the assessment methods over the years. Trainers and educators work in the environment where they have access to technology for imparting education but they are still not conversant or confident about the new teaching methods required to be deployed to take advantage of these technologies and tools in the new age classrooms.

Students on the other hand, are quite adept at handling new technologies and they take the lead in approving and rating the new apps made available for the education segment. However the speed and success of adoption rates of technology with students are not necessarily aligned with the required outcomes from the academic system. As a result, the demographic dividend that this country enjoys cannot be capitalised unless the young students emerging from the education system are exposed to the emerging expectations of the job market and they are equipped with the required skills to be successful in their careers. This further adds to the challenges of the organisations as L&D function has to fill the gaps not addressed by the academic system prior to the students joining the corporate world.

Very often there is a question about the gaps in curriculum that is taught in the higher education system and how these gaps could be bridged. More than the curriculum, it is how they are taught or trained which requires more attention. Today students have access to information of all kinds through their own devices therefore we must actively consider the flipped classroom approach by encouraging learners to do their own research and come to the classrooms with the orientation of the subject or provide initial orientation and thereafter encourage them to carry out their own study. The core learning that would take place in the classroom would be by trainers and educators facilitating insightful interactions amongst the learners through case studies and projects through which they learn to apply the knowledge gathered, test their application capability and enrich their analytical skills.

Adaptive learning and AI supported learning are slowly becoming essential ingredients of the tech led learning environment. These will help sharpen the focus of the learners on their areas of deficiencies and master the knowledge or skills required in a systematic fashion thus removing the mysteries of learning effectiveness and discovery of mastery of subjects only at the end of the learning period. While the tools are proving to be of great boon to the learners, teachers and curriculum designers play an important role in developing the algorithm and the knowhow required to build the frameworks to support adaptive learning and machine learning. Further, in conjunction with the deployment of these tools, curriculum designers and teachers have to decide what skills are planned to be developed in addition to knowledge assimilation goals and thus choose the appropriate mix of classroom learning and technology led learning supported by adaptive and machine led learning.

Problem solving and innovation capabilities are becoming increasingly critical in day to day functioning. Our assessment methods continue to be focussed on recall of knowledge gained or to some extent application to problems within defined boundaries. In the real life world, there will be situations where the problems to be solved are likely to be cross functional and simulations of scenarios with assumptions would be required to be made specially when there are progressive evolutions taking place on account of levels of maturity with digital technologies across functions, processes or in the transactions between various stakeholders.

Therefore design thinking approach needs to be embedded in the academic environment and teachers need to be trained with the tools to facilitate this approach as part of their teaching methodology wherever possible. The recognition that readying the learners for the digital era is the responsibility of the overall academic system is important as a concerted effort is required by all educators to rethink the ecosystem of curriculum planning, design, delivery, assessment and practice as an integrated
approach in order to consciously introduce enablers for developing the multiple skills required.
Willingness to rethink the education pedagogy, change in the mindset for transitioning from being a teacher to a facilitator and accepting the new realities that more than knowledge dissemination; it is the ability to help learners assimilate large amounts of information. And, develop analytical capability that would play the decisive role in making them successful would be some of the essential ingredients for readying the trainers and educators to cope with the expectations of learning outcomes of the digital era.

The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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