We are now in the era of smartphone classrooms, online exams, robotic house help and workplace companions; what is the common thread running through them all? A rapid advancement in technology, courtesy highly innovative minds; a time in which technology and creativity have become sine qua non in everyday life — Industrial revolution 4.0 or, IR 4.0 has arrived and how.
Creativity is the cornerstone of IR 4.0. It involves utilising the Internet of Things to prepare youngsters for challenges they may encounter at the workplace. Consequently, there arises a need for Education 4.0, one that emphasises the need to focus on preparing students to take on challenges, head-on.
And that is what Abhaya Kumar, Anuj Sharma and Dr. Indira J. Parekh, former Dean, IIM Ahmedabad, intend to do through the launch of Auronya College, India’s first educational institution that seeks to answer questions about the little-explored world of Education 4.0.
A disruptive system, Education 4.0 not only focuses on ‘what is taught’ but it also assumes a nuanced approach to ‘the way it is taught’ — it is an education model which is aligned with future trends, in order to develop and enhance individualised education that will eventually go on to define the manner in which youngsters of the future will work and live.
Abhaya Kumar, Founding Executive Chairman, Auronya College, sheds some light on why one would describe the model as disruptive. “When one has to prepare leaders for the 21st century, one cannot use 20th century methodologies; hence the term disruptive,” he elucidates.
“As the barriers between man, machine and technology dissolve, we need to define education for the next generation by keeping intact elements, values, beliefs and insights that makes us ‘human’. This is the essence of conceptualising Education 4.0.”
Abhaya Kumar feels that IR 4.0 presents some of the most transformative opportunities in human history. “Such an exponential rate of change in terms of technology and its uses in business and our personal lives presents massive opportunities. It is redefining our social lives, health and behaviour. With great opportunities, come challenges, the first of which is to do with how we use transformative technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, virtual-augmented technologies, and so on, at a reasonable price while ensuring mass social inclusion. This leads us to IR 4.0’s second challenge — loss of jobs. It is predicted that at least 50% of jobs will be lost to technologies. How can the current generation be educated for this exponential change in knowledge, skills and abilities that will be required in next 10-15 years?”
It is to combat these challenges that the founders came together to set up Auronya College. Anuj Sharma, Dean, says that the inherent belief that one must work for the betterment of humanity was what spurred the trio to launch the college. “Human beings have always been creators, mentors and discoverers. For example, we did not stop sending letters because, we did not like the postal system. We merely invented a better way, in terms of communicating through e-mails. Whether it is geosciences, quantum computing, robotics, or artificial intelligence, education here will focus on future trends while keeping intact today’s values and beliefs.” Dr. Indira Parekh, Founding Chairperson, Auronya College, and Former Dean - IIM Ahmedabad, elaborates on how the education model is geared to meet future trends. “It will prepare students to understand transformations in the global context. They will experience perspectives of change, the uncertainty of the global and national environment, and find ways to manage and navigate themselves through the change. The education of tomorrow, teaching pedagogies and the content of education have to be redesigned. What worked yesterday may be sufficient today, but may be inadequate or irrelevant in the future. A model such as the one adopted by Auronya will prepare students to visualise all that is required for the future,” she explains.
Anuj Sharma lists some of the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that will be offered by the college. “Our undergrad programmes will commence in 2018. This year, the college’s first offering will be Antariksh, a one-year postgraduate diploma in new-age management and leadership. It will be delivered at a campus exclusively designed for it along with facilities such as studios of virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and so on. Antariksh’s curriculum encompasses integrated topics such as business automation, robotics, digital social systems, fintech, and more,” he says.
“Students will be prepared to build an indelible capacity to operate at strategic/senior levels in both globalised and technologically-advanced environments and gain hands-on experience to solve real-world problems nationally and globally,” affirms Dr. Parekh.
“Graduates can work in strategic roles with senior management, in startup leadership roles, advisory and research capacities, business transformative roles, as consultants, valuation and merger specialists and corporate advisors,” adds Anuj Sharma. Students will also have a host of opportunities where they can cater to industries in manufacturing, venture capital, FMCG, retail, astronautics, e-commerce, information technology, consumer services, data analytics, research and development, global think tanks and so on.