“We won’t meet the goal of a better higher education until professors, instead of acting as teachers, become designers of learning experience.”
Larry Spence (2001)
Today, Every Indian street is said to contain at least one Engineer. Wow!! Isn’t that amazing? Well, it is not. IT revolution not only brought jobs to India. It also brought a flood of Engineering colleges to meet the growing demand of software Engineers. Suddenly Engineering became everybody’s passion. No matter which engineering branch you chose, there was a good 85% probability that you would ultimately land up in the IT sector. The situation has only deteriorated since then. Today, there is a high chance that you may not even get the job. So needless to say, this probability applies to you only if you get a job after completing your Engineering degree. What are the basic underlying reasons for this problem?
According to me, there is only one broad reason, i.e. lack of value addition. In the majority of cases, 4 years of engineering fail to add any significant value to students in terms of knowledge. Now think about it, why would a construction company or electronics company or automobile firm hire an engineer who is just equipped with a B. Tech or B.E degree and has no knowledge about the basic concepts of his/her specialization (civil, electronics, mechanical etc.). So what these Engineers do? They run towards IT industry. But there is a limit to the number of students it can accommodate. What about the remaining students? Well they have no option and hence remain unemployed.
So how do we solve this problem? The only way is to use the 4 years of engineering judiciously to learn about your specialization and become expert at it. But it’s easier said than done.
THE WAY FORWARD
Value addition is possible only if we enjoy studying a particular subject. So, If we can find ways to identify and create learning experience environment that engineers enjoy, then we can say that we have made an important progress in our effort to improve the quality of current education system. My point here is that teaching should encourage students to learn and at the same time should keep them engaged. This is the environment in which real value addition takes place.
We enjoy good restaurants because they provide high quality dining experience. The main aspects of dining experience are: an elaborate food menu, well-prepared food and good service. If any of these things is missing, the quality of dining experience is significantly decreased. Among all these aspects, quality of food is the most important. This is the main reason for visiting a particular restaurant.
Similarly, institutions and universities need to provide high quality content, better instructions and good faculty who can interact with engineering students. These are the fundamental reasons for which a student decides to study at a particular college. It doesn’t matter how exiting the infrastructure or how kind the faculty is; the overall learning experience is the deciding factor.
Ex RBI Governor Dr. Raguram Rajan warns us that “student should not fall prey to unscrupulous schools which leave them with high debt and useless degrees.”
Learning experience are like journeys. The journey starts where the learner is now and ends where he become successful. But there are some gaps in journey. Gaps between current situation and where they need to be.