‘Never too late in life to learn new skills’: Dr Devi Prasad Shetty at 2nd Annual Future of Learning Conference hosted by IIMB and IIT Bombay

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Bengaluru: “Educational institutions should empower students with skills to run industries,” said Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director, Narayana Health, and Chair, Board of Governors, IIM Bangalore, at the inauguration of the Future of Learning Conference, ‘Learning 4.0: Connecting the Dots and Reaching the Unreached’, being held in IIM Bangalore on January 4 and 5 (Friday and Saturday), 2019.

The Future of Learning Conference 2019, which is being hosted by IIMBx, the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) initiative of IIM Bangalore, in association with IIT Bombay, aims to highlight innovation and foster dialogue between the major actors shaping the 21st-century learning models, namely, academics, entrepreneurs, regulators and technologists. The conference will discuss factors that account for the gaps in technology, policy and practice, and how advances in technology can be leveraged to make high-quality education affordable, accessible and empowering.

Discussing the importance of data in today’s day and age during the Inaugural Plenary session, Dr Shetty said, “One of the most important elements of education is the power to harness and use data. Hence my request to the teachers and the younger generation is to implement that. Education is vital, and everyone should be open to learning at any stage in life – it is never too late in life to learn new skills. The power of education is lifelong learning.”

Anant Agarwal, Founder and CEO of edX, in his talk, ‘The Future of Education is Digital: Opportunities and Challenges’, pointed out that the second biggest industry in the world is education. “While most other industries are undergoing transformation due to digital technology, education is lagging behind,” he remarked. Stating that education is a birth right, he went on to discuss constraints in delivering and acquiring the same. “Why do we have admission processes; why is not education being personalized; why go to college at age 18 for four to six years; why study in one university; why study one field; why are lectures an hour long…” are some of the questions he asked, and said that in the future, education is going to be multidisciplinary, customized and learner-driven.

“We need to increase access, enhance quality, build a modular structure, champion omnichannel delivery and establish lifelong learning,” he explained, adding that around 91% of learners who did the MicroMasters programs of edX had reported career advancement.

Earlier in the day, Professor P D Jose, FoL Conference Co-Chair and Chair of IIMB Digital Learning, spoke about the conference and introduced the guests. Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, shared that IIM Bangalore as an institution is working its best to integrate transformative education along with the existing practices in the management education space. Professor Deepak B Phatak, FoL Conference Co-Chair, and faculty, IIT Bombay, said that systems relating to education need to change. He pointed out that there are issues that have to be tackled with regards to accreditation, and that it has become essential to clear the confusion of teachers and students regarding how to leverage digital technology to achieve the best in education. “We are not clear about what knowledge and skills will be required in the digital era and how to use the same. We need to give a serious look at why we are rigid about regulations relating to semesters, duration of lectures, etc., how to remove constraints and bring about changes. But do not change processes arbitrarily, we need to transform education systematically and make it accessible to all. This conference forum should help come up with a sustainable agenda.”

The two-day 2019 conference will address significant issues such as: how should the learning model 4.0 be in line with the principles of industry 4.0; how to bring in the vast majorities of underserved/unserved learners into the emerging learning networks; the barriers to transformation that exist and how to overcome them; the business or financial models that are likely to be successful, and the ecosystem elements that need to evolve and policy interventions needed.

The conference will also feature talks by Professor Sridhar Iyer, Conference Co-Chair, and faculty, IIT Bombay, Professor Das Narayandas, Senior Associate Dean, External Relations and HBSP, Harvard Business School, R Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MHRD, GoI, Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn (via VC), Tom Robinson, President and CEO, AACSB, Keith Pond, EOCCS Director, EFMD Global Network, Mohammad H. Qayoumi, Minister of Finance and Chief Adviser to the President of Afghanistan, Avishay Friedler, Senior Digital Learning Director, Campus – Israel’s Online Education Platform, Shijie Yu, Vice-Director, Online Education Research Center, Ministry of Education, China, Professor Andrew Thangaraj, Coordinator NPTEL, faculty, IIT Madras, N. Saravana Kumar, JS (ICC & TEL), Department of Higher Education, MHRD, GoI, Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder & MD, Upgrad, Lawrie Phipps, Senior Co-design Manager, JISC UK, Madhulika Kaushik, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Usha Martin University, Momna Hejmadi, Senior Teaching Fellow, International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM), and Professor Vasanthi Srinivasan, faculty from the Organizational Behavior & Human Resources Management area of IIM Bangalore. Conference Presentation Tracks will run parallel to these sessions.