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Underlying Vision Framework
Our current educational systems are based on an imposition of structure and the belief that scale challenges can be efficiently be met by imposing more order and structure, rather than a realization that a shift to more self-organized and adaptive systems may be more desirable.Such a system, that dis-enfranchises its participants of both choice and responsibility, needs to be re-invented.
Education philosophers and practitioners alike have bemoaned the fact the these current systems are broken and that we must take a fresh look at how some of these systems can be re-invented.
Ivan Illich, more than forty years ago, stated “The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.”
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid discuss forces will enable distributed educational systems. Their 6D notion has demassification, decentralization, denationalization, despacialization, disintermediation and disaggregation as forces that “will break society down into its fundamental constituents, principally individuals and information.”
The Indian education system faces the following key challenges:
- Access to affordable quality education for the largest number of people
- Inadequate infrastructure & connectivity, content & tools, skilled resources, competent leadership, process and policy gaps
- Most of the issues facing online education in general, such as availability of quality content in multiple languages, engagement and retention, inadequate learning analytics, issues of delivery quality and problems of recognition & reputation
These challenges are framed within and by differing opinions on the role of the State, on the role of private education and the role of industry & guilds in education.
It is crucial to state that there cannot and will never be a single one-size-fits all solution. In our opinion, systems that embrace, in principle and in practice, the pluralizing influences of Connectivism and Complexity, shall surely act as important components of our educational systems in the future.
It is also crucial to state that these challenges need not all necessarily constrain the vision, but the vision may imagine beyond now, in anticipation of events that appear likely to occur.
There are 6 major principles that frame our vision, mission and goals.
- Democratization of education
- Leveraging scale to meet scale
- Disaggregation and decentralization
- Community as curriculum
- Capability not just capacity
Democratization of Education
Education has always been considered as being for the people. Consequently, great effort and emphasis has been placed on just one aspect – how do we educate people, provision resources, manage quality and drive excellence? However, this is not entirely democratic. A democratic view of education also considers education to also be by the people and of the people. In our effort to envision an Educational future, we must consider these two aspects seriously.
Leveraging Scale to meet Scale
The vast majority of our systems are designed to be deterministic. They do not recognize the chaos that exists within and around them. Our systems and processes are trying to derive value and expertise from a system that still obeys the principles of the industrial age.
This is the age of networks. Networks that are distributed, chaotic and emergent. Networks that cannot be designed, but need to be fostered through creation of conditions that can ensure their survival and growth. Networks that respect diversity and autonomy. Rather than trying to impose more structure, we should invert the challenge and allow our very large and diverse scale to meet its own challenges through the power and scale of a very large number of intersecting networks.
It is an implicit assumption that these networked systems require mature learners. But, in essence, what we are trying to do through our educational systems is to build mature learners.
Dis-aggregation and Decentralization
The need of the hour is to unbundle the formal constraints of the educational system by dis-aggregating its tightly packed structure. This means that we must find ways to dis-aggregate courses from institutions, students from classroom, teachers from courses and similar disruptions. Only by doing so will we have an educational system ready to meet the needs of 500 million people.
The need of the hour is also to decentralize, in a manner that is integrative – aligns to local, regional and national goals – and in a manner that respects autonomy and individual creativity. The need of the hour is to enable the move from rigid structures to open ecologies of learning. We must invert the paradigm.
Community as Curriculum
The need of the hour is to empower local communities of practice to build their own socially and economically relevant curriculum, engagement models, certifications and assessments. Concerted efforts must be made to establish these communities (“guilds”), empower them and help them grow their reach. The effectiveness of Communities and Networks shall be measured by the contribution to skill development. Members of these communities can, by their expertise and experience in network activities, rise to different levels in the community.
Capability not just Capacity
At the root of any system lies capability, not just capacity. Capacity, in the industrial age sense of the term, can be provisioned far easier than capability – which is the human and technological skill to shape the system’s outcomes. India needs at this point, more than capacity, the capability of human and technological resources to make our Educational System the growth engine of our economy and society, in a global context.
The need of the hour is to direct a significant portion of India’s intellectual and labor capital to solving the problems of education. This needs employment generation. It needs the ability to create opportunities for use of this capital on a continuing basis. It needs sustained focus on research and development in Education.
Nowhere in the world has economic growth taken place because of building capacity or because only an insignificant fraction of the workforce spent their productive time to ensure it happens.
This capital may not be borrowed as-is from small scale western models or imported as best practices for our context. No western nation faces the challenge we have. We have much to learn from their failures and avoid the debt ridden paths they have taken. We must actively leapfrog over options that these nations have already explored and exploited, rather than adopting methods that were in vogue a decade or more ago.
Glocalization – Go Local, Go Global
Our educational system must understand and adapt to local conditions while staying connected with global networks. This is an imperative in a fast changing internal and external context.
We will need to build the local to global bridges, to ensure that information flows are symmetric and to ensure the relevance of our efforts in a global context. We need to build local capability by connecting local entrepreneurs to national and global resources and intellectual capital, both of which are plentiful.
Massive, open and online learning shall enable, in all Indians who want to learn, earn, teach or innovate, the capability to realize their own true potential and transform our country.
By 2030, build a new model for massive, open and online learning that shall dominate online learning in India that shall be admired by employers and be the preferred choice of online and distance learners nationally. It shall be backed by government policy, fueled by new teaching & learning capabilities, content and assessments, rapid advances in education technology, technology enabled and reinforced academic delivery, dedicated R&D, high quality learning networks, employment generation, communities, entrepreneurs & distributed learning infrastructure, with complete aligned with identified national goals.
The following top level focus areas and actionable goals have been identified
- Infrastructure: Provide energy, network, learning and computing infrastructure, access and support at scale to all stakeholders
- Community: Enable every stakeholder with the capability to build their network of people, information and resources. Create communities of practice that can define curriculum, assessments, levels of accomplishment and all supporting resources.
- Content: Strategic identification of content and digital formats to be developed, instead of a blanket approach to content development (all courses, all subjects). Structured use of systems for content management and crowdsourcing.
- Education Technology and R&D: Create the technology systems for extremely efficient creation, integration and deployment of learning resources, learning analytics, gamification, serious games, simulations and other formats.
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Engender the growth of micro to large scale entrepreneurs and NGOs to support the mission and generate employment opportunities in the education sector
- Policy: Create structures and accountability mechanisms to support this vision; create training and awareness programs and give necessary impetus for adoption; create mechanisms for state-centre alignment to ensure the adoption by states
2014-17 12th Plan
The focus in the remaining part of the 12th Plan should be to set up the necessary policies and structures, establish a National Learning Corporation and an office of the CLO and state CLOs, build a charter, aggregate all learning missions within its ambit and complete select high impact initiatives using the existing funds such as training champion educators, implementing a content management system, employer recognition systems and building and provisioning the learning analytics systems.
2017-22 13th Plan
The 13th Plan should focus on expansion of the scope across all program areas in the charter. The strategy should be to scale gracefully from a quality and coverage perspective. Over the 13th plan, all distance learners must start accessing their programs online such that we can leverage and deploy innovations to this large base of students and teachers. This shall also involve overhauling the standards of online learning published by NAAC, NBA, AICTE and UGC-DEB among other agencies. This phase should also involve scaling up private sector partnership for online education.
2022-27 14th Plan
The 14th Plan should continue the expansion to now reach other segments such as working professionals, school education and vocational education and training sectors.
2027-32 15th Plan
The 15th plan must focus on incentives to the world economy to make India a global hub for online education. At this point, we should have built the internal capabilities to handle many times the Indian scale of students.
Implications for all stakeholders
- 17,000 stakeholder entities/institutions reliably connected, trained and supported on the NKN
- An elite cadre of 170,000 champions (teachers, administrators and experts) trained to harness the network potential across India that can handle upto 4 million HE teacher capability building
- Aggregation and implementation/deployment of all past and current technology and content initiatives
- Development of 20,000 hours of rich media content across 500 HE courses
- Cutting edge IP in administration, collaboration, learning, content and assessment technologies (among others)
- 10 mn teacher certifications and the building up of a Teacher Assessor/Certifier Cadre
- Awareness generation and capability building across all HE
- 600 researchers across 12 R&D centres
- 500 Internationally recognized PhDs
- Highly productive and cutting edge global partnerships
- 50 Ed Tech startups incubated
- 5000 disadvantaged individual or small scale businesses granted funds and supported by the mission
- Inclusive and equitable strategy, tuned for excellence
- A scalable approach from which we can derive a high quality, continuously adaptive & improving growth engine for India