Higher Education Through Digital Transformation

World over universities are disrupting and innovating on teaching and learning pedagogues. But in India, universities are still characterized by impractical learning, out-of-touch faculty, exorbitant fees (in private universities) and diminishing employment as job seekers outnumber opportunities.

According to Harvard’s Prof Clayton M. Christensen, Disruptive Innovation brings to the market a product or service that isn’t as good as traditional but is less expensive and user friendly. Online learning is such a technology-enabled option that is making the world reconsider higher education models. Indian universities have talented faculty and good students, but suffer from slow processes, non-digital pedagogues, and theoretical rather than experiential learning.

Disruptive innovation requires education to be in a self-paced mode which can be only available through online “flipped” class rooms, MOOCs, SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) and still shorter micro-credentials. MITx and EDx run a very popular and affordable Micro-Master’s program in management for students who are edged out of admissions or find the costs high. However, completing the course online can get you a job which pays $80-100,000 annually and further allows direct admission to a Masters in MIT with reduced course fees and credits. In fact, Nano-Degrees by Udacity and Badges online are of much shorter duration and teach soft, social and professional skills, much sought after by companies.

According to Ryan Craig (‘College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education’) students may one day find they don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to become employable. Thus, self-paced and re-bundling of short courses could soon make the traditional degree college experience sound as “old-fashioned and elitist.” While no one is sure of a date by which this unbundling of higher education will happen, clues are available to show an inevitable arrival by 2020’s. The 4th Industrial Revolution technologies are blurring lines between the physical and digital. Big Data and digital technology will be game changers such as Li fi in place of Wi Fi (speed of Internet in Gigabytes), Internet of Things, Wearable for Virtual reality, DNA mapping and 3D printing.

It is now important to move towards blended online learning or ‘flipping class room’ where we have more e-material, audio and video lectures on line and more case studies, projects and practical experiential learning. Nano-degrees by Udacity make you a graduate in 12 months in courses like Artificial Intelligence, VR developer, Self-Driving Car Engineer, IOS or Android Developer etc. in partnership with Amazon Alexa, Google, Mercedes Benz etc. These companies foresee demand through big data analysis for e.g. in 2020, 10 million self-driving cars will be manufactured and would be in use.

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