Dr. Jawahar Surisetti, Education and Child Psychologist, TED Speaker, and Author

Known worldwide as the Think Professor for his Art of Thinking, Dr. Jawahar engages with 2.4 lakh children and parents across the globe through the UN expedition called Explora – exploring the minds of the youths. He also advises the Government of India on policy issues and innovations in education, start-ups, and youth affairs. He has two bestselling parenting guides “Mama & Me” and “Go to Hell or Come to Me” to his credit. His exemplary social enterprises have like MyBeti for the Girl Child, Religion of Youth for youth, and Happea for the happiness of the world have been applauded by the UN and included in the SDG Report in 2017-18. His innovation Think Curriculum, for which he has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Columbia University, fosters thinking in learning.

It’s a good time to be in as there is a war between the millennials and the older generation happening in the higher ed space across the world. The top echelons in higher ed are held majorly by the older generation and the millennials beat them in sheer numbers. And there is a clash of ideologies when the millennials are crying foul to overhaul the outdated higher education system whereas the older generation wants to hold on to it. So, innovations are happening that challenge the very sanctity of what and how we have gone through our collegiate education. At the cusp of a revolution, we see a large shift in the trends that we will see in the future. Let’s see some of them and understand their basis.

Shorter Duration Modular Education: With the span of attention decreasing and the impatience levels increasing, the thrust of the millennial is to make a living as fast as possible. So the future that fits into this impatience is the rise of modular short courses that can be mixed and matched to form an undergrad or a graduate degree more to the convenience and liking of the student and not the whims and fancies of the university or institution. Instead of watertight compartmentalized higher ed degrees which look more like a buffet, the future would be more like the a la carte where the student could choose from the menu card, making the choices student led.

Technology: The onset of technology in higher ed will see more innovations happening. There will more innovations that will help specially-abled students to use their dominant skills to equalize with the rest, there will more use of AR/VR to create use cases of future today more visible and the education more experiential, use of paper will almost be obsolete due to environmental and cost issues and the technology will become more affordable so that it reaches all sections of society.

Anytime Anywhere Education: With youth starting work early, it would mean that they would require means to complete their study in their free time. So anytime, anywhere education becomes the norm of future with the teacher becoming a mentor and enabling the students to comprehend the application of the concepts to real-life situations. Since the leisure of the student and proximity will not be predictable, the mentor and the technology become very important to the system. Also, the student studies at his pace and convenience within a framework of deadlines and assignments. But the convenience of the student will be the key in the future as higher ed institutions create more flexibility in their outlook to accommodate convenience.

Digital Wellbeing: With more and more technology permeating into education, the biggest health hazard would be digital addiction hence digital wellbeing would be the desired outcome that all parents and students would look for. Tech life balance would be required for the whole society and so will higher ed. Within the realm of institutions, the management will create opportunities for face to face learning, experiences that will take students closer to the environment away from technology occasionally will organize regular digital wellness and detox camps so that there are no health hazards due to digital addiction. There will be more innovations like Apprison – the digital wellbeing app and Forest.

Data-Led Personalisation of Higher Ed: As more and more of higher education becomes student-led with the higher education institutions ceasing to be the sanctum sanatorium where they could preach what to do and how to do, personalization becomes the keyword. The availability of data about the likes, skills, strengths, weaknesses helps personalize and customize the education opted for and the learning modes. This personalization will help the various learning styles which are currently not factored in our education system as well as creates a matrix where the student gets an array of choices to personalize his education. Even the devices on which they learn will be personalized due to BYOD.

Physical Boundaries Expand with Collaboration and Coordination: Watertight institutions will be a thing of the past as globalization reaches to the next higher level. So if India and China become the next major markets for students, the best universities in the world will vie for these students not just by staying put and inviting the students to the place they are located but may look at opening campuses in the vicinity for the courses that would do well or collaborate with local institutions of equal stature as a reach out measure. So, there will be increased access to quality education across the world and no one geographical area will have stand-alone supremacy in higher ed due to this mobility of institutions nearer to the students and not vice versa.

Lessened Infrastructures in Higher Ed: More emphasis will go into the quality of education and the technology to reach than the physical infrastructure of higher educational institutions. The age-old expanses of huge universities will change to compact, tech-driven modern ones due to scarcity of land, learning modes not requiring too much infrastructure and higher student engagement outside the campus.

Differential Learning: This is something that we have now figured out that a classroom of students will not necessarily be the same. So, we give them opportunities to study, comprehend and advance at the pace of their comfort rather than having a fixed pace. While learning at the classroom may go on at a particular pace but the opportunity to understand and be mentored for any lack of understanding will be provided more and more within the framework as well as without.

Differential Assessment: Since flexibility, collaboration and differentiation are the keywords of the future, the assessment also must follow this pattern. Anywhere anytime proctored assessment will give a chance for the students to keep assessing their skills and learning at regular intervals to understand where they stand vs. where remediation will be required instead of the periodic assessment. This will also help the differential learning because if we are studying at different paces then we will need to assess also at different times. Not only that, but the level of assessment also could be varied for the different levels of learner’s instead of the same level for all.

Industry-led Education: This will be the norm because it benefits the industry too to get the right fit for people. The youth gets to work in the industry and his learning at his place of work will be assessed and he will be certified accordingly. The industry trains him based on current and future skills and needs thereby getting an updated student fully equipped with the skills of tomorrow. This trend will help lower the cost of education, do away with then accusations that educational institutions in the higher ed space do not produce the right fit for the industry and empowers the industry to be a part of the education system.

Entrepreneurship will be Holistically Embedded into the Higher Ed: Currently, in the education scenario, the entrepreneurship caps are mostly donned by the STEM practitioners, but in future students of higher education of various fields be it humanities, science, languages, art or any other would become more entrepreneurial and collaborate with other streams to create ventures while in college.

All in all, the higher education landscape seems to be moving in the right direction of autonomy of choices and modes, creating innovation on the way and more inclusion of industry. The student will stand to gain in this more dynamic approach in the future with a balance of technology and life skills.

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