India’s education system, which caters to the world’s largest youth population, is currently at the most important stage of development, with vast potential and a crucial task ahead. This is also the time when the education sector has emerged as the most funded industry according to the recent survey, where startups are bringing new age education to the ‘Gen-Z’ in the form of learning-based. applications, smart classes, introductory robotics, AI, IOT, VR, AR, laser and 3D printing and various other forms of learning.
But a void that remains is the pedagogy to teach / educate this content to our new generation, whose attention span is a few seconds. We still ignore the fact that our existing classrooms are not equipped to accommodate millennials, where they spend most of their active time. The introduction of various technology platforms has resulted in the creation of a parallel ecosystem that provides personalized, on-demand, self-assisted learning to our children, making our classrooms redundant.
Schools are struggling to meet the expectations of our ‘Generation Z’ and have already started to drift towards their need for a new, intuitive, discovery-based and stimulating educational environment that has created breakthroughs for STEAM education or experiential learning at our new age classes.
STEAM education is fundamentally a form of experiential learning that focuses on building skills in children and provides deep conceptual understanding. STEAM is an amalgamation of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math – where two or more (all) subjects are taught together, leading to conceptual understanding.
Focus on competency-based education
STEAM education builds skills but also challenges students in all forms of life. Students learn to build things that they can relate to real life, and therefore gain traction. STEAM covers essential skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and overall child development assistance.
STEAM-based concepts are supported by an activity that works with a child’s natural curiosity and helps them create their personalized learning curve. STEAM does not only focus on building knowledge, but also on skills that remain for life. These skills prepare children for a future that we cannot predict today.
Interdisciplinary & Transdisciplinary
The most common misconception with STEAM or experiential learning is that only the IB or Cambridge curriculum supports it and does not match Indian school boards. While Indian counseling is well linked to the traditional curriculum, STEAM methodologies can be integrated well into any Indian counseling.
STEAM trainings operate on inter and trans disciplines and can be applied as a comprehensive methodology on (above) any board. i.e. any subject can be integrated into a respective subject and the results can be connected as input to another subject resulting from inquiry-based learning, which leads to an interdisciplinary approach. Likewise, any curriculum can be defined as a core and learning outcomes are created throughout the curriculum for a transdisciplinary approach.
Today, schools are looking at innovations in the classroom in the form of STEAM lab setups or AI-based programs integrated with STEAM education as an on-going program to enhance the classroom experience.
Teachers versus educators
The most important role in STEAM education is that of educators, as they become the architects of experiential learning in the classroom. In STEAM education, the educator joins the students and instead enables them to become a source of knowledge. Educators work together to develop critical thinking about a problem and define learning outcomes.
Unlike teachers, educators relieve themselves by moving away from the trap of traditional education and focusing on an informal, open and creative learning approach with experiential learning in the classroom. Young teachers are the real flagships, especially when it comes to bringing innovation to the classroom.
Innovation as an evaluation parameter
The biggest advantage of adopting STEAM or an experiential learning methodology is that the assessment process becomes transparent and brings the child into a process of self-discovery. STEAM empowers children to build solutions with tangible results. Robotics, artificial intelligence, coding, laser & 3D printers and various other technological solutions are available to children which help them to create, innovate and implement. Therefore, students learn from their own innovations rather than from a set of instructions.
STEAM education lays the foundation for a strong culture of innovation in India, which will lead us to become a hub of innovation and bring our offerings to the world as creators and followers.
Go forward :
In essence, the future will belong to those who are willing to embrace change and adapt technology as the new rules of the game. It is believed that the future of the global economy will be driven by Industrial Revolution 4.0, which will be fueled by by more than 20% of new job opportunities in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, digital marketing, cybersecurity specialists, etc. And so on. These careers were not understood by most 19th and 20th century educators. Therefore, there is an urgent need for rapid change in the education sector with an overhaul of the curriculum from elementary to higher education. The introduction of the field of STEAM education will mark the start of a new era, forcing us all to consider learning and exploring things in a distinct way.
The author is Director and CEO, Makebot