September 24, 2016 7 min to read

Simulation in the education-technology space

Category : Innovation

Author: Mr Madhusudan Namboodari

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Education is the key to our future. What you impart today is what defines the returns of tomorrow. But are we really paying enough attention to it? Why is it that the education system has remained stagnant for the past 5-6 decades, while technology has been changing at lightning fast speed? While we have bettered the art of recruiting the right people for the right job, we have failed to groom the people on the job with the advances in technology. This relationship of man and machine must be balanced but slowly we are losing the balance.

Ineffectiveness so far
Technology in the education sector has not caused education to evolve directly. It has only played a supporting function by making the whole process simpler and less labour intensive. Tablets can replace the humble slate, black boards can make way for LED displays, letters and diaries can make way for e-mails and smartphones. But if the crux of education remains unevolved and rudimentary, what you teach remains the same and you are not really making the difference that you ought to with technology being offered as a support pillar.

We have, more often than not, picked careers without much thought or with repressed passion. We have just gotten better at the tasks that we do without innovating and recreating within the space. What we really need to do with the future generation is to enable them in identifying their passion and give them career choices that make sense to them. Identification of interests and passions can only come with the right exposure to the real world. The amount of dependence and importance we assign to theoretical knowledge in today’s curriculum fails to provide the experiential wisdom that is the need of the hour.

Tracking solutions: Inviting change
What we lack in our present system is the knowledge of real life applications of what we learn theoretically. Traditional lessons are being imparted to the students without incorporating latest trends in technology which is leading to a massive disconnect between the way students are taught in school and the way they learn in the outside world with various sources of learning at their disposal. Technology is available at our disposal and must be used to the fullest to make a difference in education.

The first step towards bringing a change is to bridge this gap. Imagine the improvement in productivity and innovation if kids are trained for the real world situations during their initial years of learning itself!
While it is clear that education must adapt to our transforming world, the bottleneck is the fact that parents are apprehensive about any change made in the education system. Change always makes people apprehensive, especially parents whose scale of measuring a child’s potential so far, has been restricted to marks obtained and academics only. It is important for us to understand that every child is different and the concept of having a single measuring scale for every child must be eradicated. It is also clear that many educators have already implemented excellent teaching practices and are able to skilfully create a dynamic learning environment. However, we still have a long way to go.

We need to work in sync with the past while also adapting to the future. Lauding and building upon successful strategies of the past is critical to effective growth in the education sector in order to bridge the aforementioned divide. It is therefore important for us to transform educational practices and approaches so that they are aligned with the processes and operations of the world outside school.

Technology and this generation
The present generation is already immersed in a wide gamut tech-tools. And inherently and contrary to popular parental belief, technology is more than just entertainment. Social networking, digital gaming, and simulations—deserve a deeper look in order to really understand what is going on! These platforms are already demonstrating how they impact the way we think, learn, and interact and it is surprising to see the potential these channels have to create an impact!

The emergence of social networking and the evolution of digital games have helped shape the new ways in which people are communicating, collaborating, operating, and forming social constructs. In fact, it is especially true of our youngest generations – those arriving at classroom doors, soon to be leaving them and entering the workforce and society-at-large. Our newest generation is clearly demonstrating the impact of having developed under the digital wave. They are completely adept with digital tools and in sync with changing technology. Technology is a fully integrated aspect of their lives.

Nearly all institutions – business, industry, medicine, science and government – have harnessed aspects of simulation technologies for decades. Games and simulations have been a key component of training doctors and military personnel, there are even businesses using a game about a mining company in outer space to teach its employees about derivatives. Although the concept seems like a Western concept, the truth is that defence and medical communities are using this technology to get better.

It is high time that we get rid of this resistance to adapt simulation in the education sector. Simulation gives a student the real world knowledge that they need. It can be used in various ways like simulating scenarios for kids to make them morally upright. This must also be implemented in the imparting of scientific knowledge for children.

One of the ways of implementing this technology into the world of scientific learning is pretty similar to the way how we have reverse engineered the whole idea of the personal computer. Just like how our computers have evolved from hard core coding to operating systems that have created a simple interface for a layman to use, we must create products, services and kits that enable kids to dream of products and solutions without having a Ph.D in the background processes. Today if a kid dreams of a simple automated safety alarm, the kid is also required to know about the electronics, the computing and the electricals that go behind such an idea. What we must create is a kit or a product that can reduce the background burden of converting an idea into reality.

A kit or a service or a product that enables a kid to replicate real life and create products for real world problems, will not only make it easier for testing ideas but will also boost their morale to work towards solving problems and innovating. This mentality of care and concern towards the society is the key to effective evolution. This evolution comes in the form of the ability and zeal to innovate and innovate for good. What we will also be able to enable through this, is focus on the child’s areas of interest. Inclination towards a certain cause or idea can be a good indicator of where the focus must lie in the future. What most of us adults are scared of when venturing out in a field, be it choosing a career or starting a business is fear of failure. Which is a problem addressed by simulation, trial error and failure at a young age will enhance the ability for a kid to recognise their interest, passion and abilities. Millions of people choose wrong streams and careers, only to burnout real fast in their professional lives and then try to figure out who they really are. Knowing what you are capable of and what you love can benefit way more than what we think. Here, we are winning at all ends with just identifying things for kids at a younger age.

How the can Government help?
Help from the government can be received in various ways. To begin with, it is the government bodies that are governing and approving the education we have today. They can bring in a change and they can help the ones that are trying to change. The government can also help by fuelling innovation in the education-technology sector. The education-technology sector has been ignored for the longest time. With ‘start-ups’ being the buzzword and specialization in a particular area, being the key factor for a business model, it is perhaps the right time to encourage people to innovate in the ed-tech space. The government is already encouraging start-ups and must continue doing so at the grass root level to help bridge this gap at the elementary level itself.

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