“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Higher education is the key for successful and sustainable development of individuals and nations. It drives the creation of skills and skilled individuals. This further accelerates research and innovation. UNESCO in its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 envisions education as a means for sustainable development and global citizenship by 2030. Towards these goals, universities and educational institutions of today play a crucial role in developing the right methods for learning for the future.
The trend in education for centuries till now used to be, educational institutions teaching students, students graduating and most of them being hired as new talents by corporates and other employers. However, in the recent years there is a growing mismatch in the graduates’ skills and the employability skills required by employers. To achieve the target of SDG universities and educational institutions at all levels, in particular the higher education need to accept the responsibility effectively.
The challenges and the opportunities to excel that lie ahead for institutions of higher education are to ensure competent and progressive curriculum towards development of employability skills and keeping up with the trends at the speed of need. The other challenges are the changing demands based on the recent trends of learning. These trends could be listed as the changes in technology, modes of learning, social trends, student diversity and much more.
The following are a few opportunities for growth, technology influenced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) could be a game changer towards automation of tasks and learning processes. This in turn will boost the learning experience. The different modes of learning would be online and offline, blended learning, e-learning and m-learning to name a few. The recent trends of e-learning and m-learning ensure inclusion of learners across geographies. With present day globalization and immigration and learners from different backgrounds, commitment towards inclusivity is crucial.
The future would be an experience of experiential learning for both the learners and the teachers. The present generation of learners, most of who are the Gen Z, are the first-generation learners who grew up with internet and have experienced participative online and blended learning. Learning in future would be on demand pull learning with active participation of the learner. The teacher would be more of a facilitator as compared to the present. With internet and online learning, a college would no longer be a place students go to for learning, it would be something they do.
Teachers of the future would need to develop robust subject knowledge to facilitate experiential and discovery learning as the learners are equipped with computers and internet search engines. Human skills such as decision making, team working and communication would be crucial for success. Continuous formal and informal learning would be critical to adapt to the growing demands. Teachers would have to move away from the exclusive text book approach to the real-world and focus towards learning at the speed of need.
The higher education scenario is changing at a rapid pace. To stay abreast educational institutions will have to ensure learning curriculum is in line with the skill demand of the industry, optimum and effective use of technology and blended learning and invest in the learning of facilitators and students. This will ensure a shift from transactional methods of teaching to a relational approach to learning.