Look who is talking

I just read Will Richardson’s thought-provoking post Who’s Asking. In particular, this paragraph stands out / echoes my thoughts:

So here’s the deal with the change that many of us in this conversation are clamoring for in schools: we’re about the only ones talking it. The townsfolk down at the corner store aren’t demanding “21st Century Skills,” technology in every student’s hand, an inquiry based curriculum and globally networked classrooms. By and large the parents and grandparents in our communities aren’t asking for it. The national conversation isn’t about rethinking what happens in classrooms. No one’s creating assessments around any of this. And in fact, outside of the small percentage of people who are participating in these networks and communities online, the vast majority of this country and the world doesn’t even know that a revolution is brewing.

Ahhh…that articulation itself prompts me to ask, in more the Indian context, “look who is talking”! The problem is there aren’t many people talking about, far less “clamouring”, for the kind of changes we have been discussing and the kinds of heated debates over new forms of learning and what they potentially impact.

The way the mindset is, it is about “more of the same, at perhaps better quality, will work better”, not “others have tried the more, it doesn’t work” mindset. Indian education industry, for examples, is now abundant with technological solutions for lower risk areas such as etutoring, exam management, assessments, English Language training and the like, focusing on e-enabling these sectors. It is salivating on rural access, vocational education, student loans, advertising, foreign universities and future policy based accreditation possibilities. The government is applying the traditional system using the same curricular frameworks, bureaucratic processes, pedagogy, teacher training etc. believing it will scale seamlessly. The teachers and educators, if we are lucky, have even barely heard of the terms being discussed in the conversations Will mentions.

What’s worse, these approaches are being touted as those which can solve our problems nationally irrespective of reach and diversity.

Look, it seems there is really no one talking. I may perhaps be wrong, and I would loved to be proved wrong on this one, but this is important enough to state, if only to provoke a response. We perhaps have the biggest challenge of all and my deepest worry is that because of this unprecedented scale, like in the past, this apparent apathy will result in an inequity so large that it will derail our development and risk our futures.

4 thoughts on “Look who is talking

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    1. Wish I knew :). And it is not just about a network solution, there simply seems to be very little conversation happening that is open and public. Can’t say what happens behind closed policy doors, behind political public responses and inside closed academic groups. Perhaps it is just that people have not taken to the online medium, adding to my problems of finding the conversations or that I am not *connected* in the right way? But there is very little evidence that we have moved beyond the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) stage. I am saying that perhaps a solution is over-rated or underestimated, but atleast the discourse should happen, right? Let people decide for themselves what makes sense – don’t think anything is not worth discussing in particular.

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  1. Hi Viplav,

    I have always admired your posts for the “Indian Perspective” that is seldom found elsewhere. A Director at the NCERT once said to me – “you guys (eLearning companies) throw jargon and technologies at us without attempting to know the ground realities.” You are bang on target saying – The government is applying the traditional system using the same curricular frameworks, bureaucratic processes, pedagogy, teacher training etc. believing it will scale seamlessly.

    With respect to ICT – if Muhammed doesn’t go to the mountain the mountain needs to go to Muhammed. We need to define ICT in an Indian way! The platforms should accomodate the devices commonly available with the people – we cannot expect ppl to get devices to integrate with our platforms. I think we need to apply more thought to using simpler but more effective techniques using radio, mobile phones etc to deliver training.

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    1. Thanks, Ashutosh! Its good to get your comment. There are simply so many ways in which we can look at more accessible platforms and more effective techniques – at all levels. But we must be prepared to, as you say, redefine instead of just importing ICT understanding.
      Viplav

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