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Education 4.0, an approach to learning that aligned with the fourth industrial revolution is impacting our daily life with smart technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics. A paradigm shift to technology especially ‘The internet’ has opened a plethora of avenues in education. Teachers’ role has undergone a tremendous change. Today the teacher is a meddler. Not sage on the stage, not even guide but a meddler in the middle, learning along with the students. They learn alongside students challenging them to expand their horizons.
We sailed through adapting from flipped classrooms to blended learning, adjusting to the new normal. But slowly there is a fatigue setting in. Listening to lectures on the mobile phone, copying notes from the files shared, signal issues, having blurred video, follow up, etc that can hardly and organically connect to the student’s understanding. The initial excitement of online school has waned off to boredom, mute, video off, lying on couch scenario.

It is at this point we need a paradigm shift in the approach. To move from compliance to engagement. Create an environment where student ‘want to learn’ rather than ‘have to learn’. This reminds me of ‘The Hole in the Wall Project and the Power of Self-Organized Learning by Prof Sugata Mitra. In early 1999, a computer was sunk into the opening of a wall in a slum in New Delhi. The PC screen was visible and made available to anyone who passed by. The computer had online access and several programs that could be used, but no instructions were given for its use.

Slowly but eventually children in the slum began to learn how to use this strange thing. They began to click and explore and learned to surf the Web, all by themselves. It was surprising to see that the children had taught themselves. The driving force was curiosity, yearning to explore that led to learning -SELF-learning. Empowered with resources they went ahead as self-directed learners. Extensive research in self-directed learning shows that children develop deep learning by teaching themselves. This method of instruction is called Minimally Invasive Education (MIE).

We are all-natural learners. Nobody teaches a new-born the way to stand up, nobody trains to crawl, to talk, etc. Similarly, these children seemed to learn to use the computer without any assistance. Just exploring making more accidental or incidental discoveries.

But learning independently can be challenging, even for the brightest and most motivated students. Four stages to independent learning, known as self-directed learning are:

  • Being ready to learn
  • Setting learning goals
  • Engaging in the learning process
  • Evaluating learning.

Readiness to learn involves student being independent, organized, self-disciplined, able to communicate effectively, accept constructive feedback and engage in self-evaluation and self¬-reflection.

Setting learning goals for student is critical by the teacher. It includes learning outcomes, activities, timelines for completion, resource materials, grading procedures, feedback, and evaluation.

Approaches to engage in the learning process :

A deep approach is about understanding ideas for themselves, applying knowledge to new situations and using innovative ways to explain a concept, and learning more than is required for unit completion.

A surface approach involves coping with unit requirements, learning only what is required to complete a unit in good standing, and tending to regurgitate examples and explanations.

A strategic approach involves achieving the highest possible grades, learning what is required to pass exams, memorizing facts, and spending time practicing from past exams.

Evaluate learning to be successful in self-directed learning, student must be able to engage in self-reflection and self-evaluation of their learning goals and progress in a unit of study.

It is here that teachers as facilitators can help out by giving feedback, and self-reflection opportunity. Build a cooperative learning environment, motivate and direct their learning experience and appreciate the initiatives for learning. Be available as a support during the learning process and serve as a facilitator rather than an instructor.

Such an empowered classroom is a shift from giving choices to inspiring possibilities. So, instead of making the subject interesting let us tap into student interests. Instead of saying “You must learn this” to asking “what do you want to learn?”

A shift from what we have been doing in classrooms as differentiating instruction to personalizing learning. The flexibility to adjust and learn at their own pace. Let them choose their resources to accomplish their goals of inquiry. This shift to self-motivated, self-directed learning would bring in ownership with better concentration and better attention span. Then our students will become creative critical thinkers who are problem solvers of the world, well equipped with skills for the future workplace. Most importantly with meaningful learning and a Humanistic approach.

Gayethri Mote
Research and Resource Centre
DPS Secunderabad

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