Quest 2 Learn 2017 brought impactful conversations on learning and employment.
The summit explored how we can re-think learning experiences for our young learners and offer an integrated experience that helps them find meaning and purpose.
Educationists, skills trainers, youth, government officials, corporations and foundations intensely brought numerous perspectives on improving learning experiences across and beyond classrooms. There were four plenary sessions, four co-labs and three masterclasses that focused on ideas to enable young people become life-long learners and solutions to build capacities of educators to adapt to 21st century learning.
Finding Meaning & Purpose
for Self-Learning Pathways
Center for Games & Impact
Sasha explored how can you build an ecosystem for learning with a young person at the centre, from his standpoint as a Professor of Innovation and Learning Sciences.
By focusing on unlocking human potential, his approach is in sharp contrast to what is happening in many school classrooms, where the focus is on content and how it can be consumed. At Arizona State University, the traditional faculties have been re-imagined so as not to focus only on disciplines. For example, Sasha’s work falls into the Future of Innovation in Society, where diverse practitioners from engineers and doctors to writers are all thinking about how to use technology to create better futures. This has allowed the focus to shift from ‘what you are’ to ‘what you can do’.
One way of doing this is to give people more opportunities to create value in their lives. Today’s schools tend to focus not on creating value, but consuming value in the hope that one day you might get to create it. That promise very thin for many young people, which is why they need to see value in the present. Kids need to see value in what they are doing. How do I take content and do something meaningful with it in the real world?
Games have the potential to create meaning. And they are not just valuable because they are fun – a good gamer is not someone who doesn’t know they are learning, but someone who engages deeply with what they are learning. If the game designed well, the only way the learner can succeed is by understanding the core concepts the game is trying to teach. They are one tool in the classroom, and the best results have come when students working in groups, with a facilitator, supplemented with other instruction.
“Fundamentally, we must let people create value and find purpose. Schools are often not about creating value, but consuming value in the hope that ‘one day you might get to create it’. That promise is wearing very thin for many young people.”
One major problem, or opportunity, is ensuring real-world transfer. How do we translate the value in the game situation into value in their lives? The learner must become the innovator and their work must become the innovation. The notion of anticipatory governance – the individual leveraging the technology in anticipation of what they might do with it – is important. When we think like this, the entire process is flipped so that we think first about what we want our learner to do at the end, and then design accordingly. This involves re-thinking the curriculum to be: invite – enable – release, with the focus on the final ‘release’ step.
One way to think about this is by enabling a focus on the impacts that you are creating. A powerful motivator for learning is seeing what other people have achieved, and then sharing what you have achieved. People need to have success in bite-sized chunks. The relationship we are trying to introduce is the child as the innovator, and their learning as an act of innovation.
Our platforms must allow relationships to form, and for young people to champion the work of others, as some of the biggest moments where a kid decides to lean in are bound up in relationships with mentors/peers/teachers. Any structure interacts with a child’s passion, so it must start with the learner being invited to engage.
What Should Industry Be Doing To Set Young People For Success?
How do we shift the conversation from industry as employers to industry as partners?
|Moderator:||Youth Panelists:||Industry Panelists:|
Moderated by Lezo Putsure, who leads Youthnet, an organization which enables young people in Nagaland to chart their career pathways, this panel brought together young people, training organizations and industry representatives.
The youth panellists began by sharing their life journeys and how they came to be where they are today. Shailam, for example, spoke of how growing up in the Northeast of India, his parents were reluctant for him to continue his education past Class 5, and instead wanted him to drop out of school and contribute to the family income. He fought to stay on at school, and progressed to a Bachelor of Commerce degree, funding himself by working as an auto driver alongside his studies. Despite graduating, and looking for suitable employment, he was not able to find an appropriate job. Using some of the skills learned at college, he decided to sell his auto, and start a microfinance business. With the capital raised through this, he invested in a plot of land, and in building a house, and received training in poultry farming and mushroom cultivation, which is now his focus.
Both Sonu and Ashwini described themselves as ‘dropout’ students (Sonu from Class 9, and Ashwini from the second year of her diploma) and credited intervention, from friends/organizations, with helping them succeed after these setbacks. Smithu and Deepak also mentioned the importance of ‘intervention’ and mentors in helping them to establish successful careers. This was supported by the industry representatives, with Murugan commenting that many companies which are changing the world were started by people who did not go through the system, and Meena adding that she has a lot of belief in individual who have had a drop-out experience.
Role of technology
On the youth side, the panellists articulated the fear that many young people have of technology reducing job opportunities, explaining that many felt the repercussions of mechanisation would be felt among workers rather than at the ‘CEO’ level.
“We need to create the collaborative environment required for corporates, non-profits, and government to work together to create a space for youth to access opportunities and guidance.”
— Murugan Vasudevan
On the industry side, Murugam saw this as a real issue, but placed it in the context of the multiple disruptions which every generation must face in the workplace multiple times. People will continue to innovate, which is why we must all learn how to learn new things. Meena echoed this sentiment, saying that once you are a ‘learner’ you have nothing to fear. Mayank pointed out that there will always be some things that machines can’t do, and that it might not only be that some jobs have gone, but that new jobs are also created – technological advancements will mean that the qualities which make us human are the most valued.
Role of industry
Moderator Lezo Putsure wanted to know more about what role industry has, or should have in helping young people to succeed, eliciting a range of responses. There was a consensus that it was in industry’s interest to be invested in youth success, summed up by Mayank when he said that ‘industry needs talent more than talent needs industry’. Taking this point further, Murugan pointed out that a more prosperous society means that all companies thrive, which means that industry should focus on society more broadly, rather than just the small pool of talent that they are looking for. Mayank, using the example of his own internship portal, spoke of the space for private players to come in and create models which allow industry and youth to both find value, which makes it possible to get both sides onboard.
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Act was a key part of the dialogue, cited as an important nudge to step up and look at more than our quarterly revenues and earnings by Murugan. For Meena, the Act is means that there is a substantial amount of funding to make sure that as the boat rises, everyone rises with it. A caveat being that the CSR pool is still a fraction of government spend, so creating an environment in which corporates, non-profits and the government can to work together is important for sustainability.
Education and career paths are not straightforward, and experiencing setbacks like dropping out are not irreversible if the right interventions and support are available. The success and failure of industry and youth are closely interlinked, and there is much potential for more to be done to empower youth through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Anytime, Anywhere Learning
How is mobile learning creating value to the student, teacher and employer?
Associate Director, Quest Alliance
Dr. Anna Arici
The panelists described how learning happens in context, so any solution one designs must work within that context to be effective. That means learning must be designed with and for the people who use it. Jagdish Babu believes that despite the vastness of the country, similarities in contexts would enable sharing and learning of experiences. Technology would allow us to share, and meet continuous learning needs, even if it were scaled to 200 million children.
Anna Arici explained that learning practices that take place within games are immersive and good for teachers and students alike. Virtual classrooms allow teachers to fail safely, and engage with students one-on-one. She also admitted that these implementations were dependent on the larger ecology — their facilitator might not transfer it into real-world scenarios.
The human element is important. We, collectively, like to be with other people, we like relationships. Building this into the platform allows learners to begin by reading the stories of other learners who have used the program before them, and then start their own learning. At the end, they write up their own story, which then goes into the system, so there is built-in mentorship.
“The innovation is not the software, but what the learner does in the world”
Virginia Sharma said the biggest challenge for today’s students is being educated and unemployable, and even if they have the right skills, the skills become outdated. She explained that when learning is boring, people abandon it; and people connect their professional success with their personal identity. She said becoming employable means taking responsibility for your own learning. Also, one’s first job might not be their dream job, but you need to make a start. She explained how LinkedIn uses their insights and use that data to suggest things to people, and how LinkedIn light on 2G phones would reimagine LinkedIn for non-professional workers.
The panel agreed that e-learning is still an emerging science and it’s hard to validate soft skills. Blended learning is the answer – one should be able to have a curriculum where they can just do the bits they need. This is a more intelligent way to make one’s career plan, and allows us to deliver high quality learning to drive employability.
“The biggest challenge we see is people who get an education but not a job. It’s a big blow to graduate and be unemployable. Despite so many graduates, we as industry have talent shortages, because candidates don’t have the right skills. The second challenge is that the lifespan of your skills is around five years.”
— Virginia Sharma
Pooja Rao suggested that learning extend the focus from anytime, anywhere to anyone — how do you make learning accessible for persons with disability? Every learner is different and how are we making learning accessible for anyone? She explained how since making all Enable India’s resources from last 18 years available online, they have accessed many more people. Enable India has provided employment for 4500+ persons with disability across India, 32% of people they have placed are primary bread earners in their families.
To the question of how do we the 68% of people in rural areas, the answer was via the mobile. India has one of highest mobile phone penetrations in the world. One can listen to channels with content by giving a missed call, and share it with friends, or publish their own content.
The panel expounded that no matter how much we have online or phone learning, the role of the teacher can never be lost. Digital learning is not replacing traditional learning, but enhancing it, by giving more tools to the teacher and giving the learner an opportunity to learn in many different ways. They agreed that there are certain things you can’t teach online, for example vocational training. They stated that digital is a supplemental tool– it can enhance certain learning, but human interactions are invaluable. Digital learnings must transfer into the real world. We have a responsibility to teach children how to do well outside of school.
As educators, and as a sector, we need to think about access, affordability and education to enable anytime, anywhere, anyone learning. Blended learning is an effective way to do this, as it allows us to combine digital experiences with human guidance. If we enable teachers and students to do their own things within a collaborative ecosystem, and to share their learnings, then this potentially enables scale.
How do we get people to become digitally literate so that they can start producing evidence of their own learning?Facilitator:
Director, Center for Games & Impact;
Professor, Arizona State University
Digital literacy is about achieving a goal through technology. There are different skills which make up digital literacy, and when working with any community you first need to understand specifically what they want to accomplish through digital literacy. Only once you understand what end users want can you build a system that will enable people to reach their goals.
A big part of trying new technologies is taking risks, so pockets of trust need to be established for this to happen – this can be achieved through people signing up in groups that will support each other. The more they can support each other, the more risks individuals will take. We also need to position people who are new to technology to try things and fail, so that they can develop their skills
Through anticipatory governance i.e. anticipating what value technology will have. The end user must be an active engager and not a pawn.
Challenges to harnessing technology:
- Lack of direct internet access. Users access the internet either through a family member within a home, or outside of the home.
- Lack of resources in languages other than English.
- Difficulties starting from scratch with individuals with very limited or no digital exposure.
- Desire to learn quickly and translate immediately into an employability skill; lack of awareness of multiple possibilities of digital literacy.
- Need to moderate and filter information, which can be overwhelming. Every online space has different rules and ways to operate, and this sort of digital etiquette not something that is taught in schools.
- Talk to the people you’re working with and find out what they want to accomplish, and then build activities around that.
- Ensure that you are giving people something which is of real value to them.
- In terms of program design and structure, if you scale too quickly you’ll lose value locally.
- The program is not where value lives. The value lives in users creating things they care about because of what they learn through the program.
To achieve goals through technology, understanding what your community wants to accomplish is key, so that you can give them something which is of real value to them. As trying new technologies requires trust, and repeated opportunities to fail, there is merit in signing up in ‘self-supporting groups’, which can maximize the risks individuals are prepared to take. Above all, having humility as a facilitator and embracing the end-user as an active engager and not a pawn is a powerful beginning.
How do we build a learning culture within organizations and institutions?Facilitators:
Deepa Avashia, School Leader, Riverside School
Dheer Avashia, Student, Riverside School
Looking at the World Economic Forum ‘Future of Jobs’ report, even the top ten skills for employment projected for 2015 vs. 2020 are different from each other. How then to know what to teach the child today? The focus must not be on content, but on driving the ability to learn continuously.
In recent years, the education system in India has cultivated a few bright spots like the Right to Education for all children that has allowed greater enrolment, especially among girls,digitization and open source resources, increased time of self-reflection and collaboration, and increasingly diverse career options that were not thought of a few decades ago.
Challenges to learning culture in India’s education system:
- Lack of planning and awareness of bigger picture
- Lack of student voice and choice
- Lack of relevance of learning; high emphasis on grades / ranks
- Inequality in the education received across schools
- Teaching not an aspirational profession
- Skills can be built at any age; but it is important to get a buy-in from students with every project and not just hand over assignments.
- It is of great value if the teacher uses examples that s/he is passionate about to really get students to be engaged. If education doesn’t feel relevant, dropout rates could increase.
- Embrace the ‘I can’ mindset: i.e. why should we wait for anyone else? I can. It is made up of four parts:
- Feel – Empathy Connect with the people and the problem
- Imagine – What is the best-case scenario?
‘Learning culture’ has become so widely discussed, both within and outside the education sector.Content is not king and age has nothing to do with competency. It’s important to learn from the user which in the case of a school is the children. If the user is giving us solutions, what better way to proceed? While many questions arose about the relevance of the Riverside model to government schools, this takeaway should be universal, as it allows you to focus on the specific context of the child you are teaching.
How do we build interest based career pathways?Facilitators:
Nikita Bengani, General Manager, Quest Alliance
Anna Arici, Learning Scientist, Arizona State University
Paulomi Pal, DGM-Sustainability, Godrej Consumer Products Limited
Career development is a lifelong process of preparing oneself to face the world of work with the required skills and tools for professional development and personal satisfaction. Yet when asked about the career development in specific contexts, most felt that there was no real career development ‘process’ or counselling.
Design interventions are needed to address this because:
- Career development is a lifelong process, and not just at one particular stage in life.
- Many career decisions influenced by role models, so understanding oneself is closely linked to who you want to be like.
- Aspirations can only be formed once these barriers are addressed.
- If you link choice of career to ability or inclination then you are more likely to succeed in it, and the sweet spot is when interest and ability comes together
- Understanding self/Identifying Passions
- Understanding the World of Work/Exploring Professions
- Identifying Careers/Pursue Pathways
- Planning my Career/Plan Futures
Career journeys are not linear, but circular, with a need for constant self-reflection before and throughout your working life. A career development ‘toolkit’ can help to guide you through the stages. There is a need to increase awareness of career options and provide role models so that young people can form diverse aspirations.
How we can build hyper local city based networks of facilitators, teachers and trainers, and demonstrate strength in offline mobilizing of trainers?
- Reap Benefit
- Enable India
- Quest Alliance
- Reaching Hands
- Dream A Dream
Many members of the group were experienced in facilitating trainer networks in their organizations. These networks are usually small and isolated. Members presented their experience of running trainer support systems, like the i-Talk trainer support network at Enable India which is a voice based systems for trainers with visual disabilities. Quest also shared its experience of Trainer Tribe.
A trainer need social capital-
- To feel a sense of trust
- A place to be reminded of his / her own values of facilitation
- A space where trainers can learn new soft and hard skills
- To create a sense of belonging to a community where they can grow
- Ensure trainers feel a part of a learning culture where they can learn
- A space where they feel comfortable accepting themselves and reflecting on their own strengths and areas of improvement
- A space where trainers can share and receive solutions to issues they may be facing in class. Get a third person’s perspective to the issues they are facing.
Some members acknowledged that language is a barrier when it comes to building a trainer network, since it plays a big role in communication and hence trainer networks need to be local so trainers can discuss in a common language. However, many disagreed saying many people are multilingual.
Roadmap to build on:
Create a system for live support for trainers where trainers can also share professional and personal issues that need immediate help. This network must be—
- Hyper local so trainers can easily access the network
- The network needs to meet physically. However an online format can be added to keep the momentum up for the network. For example, trainer tribe can be used alongside the hyper local network to continuously share knowledge/information and other aspects with trainers
- The network should work on skills related to facilitation across genres like facilitation skills, counselling
- The network should try to identify expertise from within the network as well as outside the network
- Have regular meetups every 3 months to ensure the network does not lose its momentum
- Have online sessions every month in addition to the offline meetups
How we can create city based networks and support system for young people to thrive?
- Radio Nazariya
- Quest Alliance
A city is a large human settlement with generally extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication. A city’s demographics denotes people from different corners of the world, most of these people migrate to cities at an early age and are uprooted from their family, culture, religion, society and also financially.
The group shared their views on the good things about being part of a community, and discussed how a network could provide them support?
A new person in the city needs a support system to:
- Help navigate differences in language / difficulties in communication
- Guide working terms with the agency / company they opt to work with
- Learn to access / avail food and accommodation
- Navigate the city
- Know where to seek medical assistance from
- Understand the city’s safety measures and more
The members believe that hurdles stemming out of these issues are mitigated by a network of youth who voluntarily connect and support each other.
Roadmap to build on:
Build a community space, with trust and indicative action plan. It could also be an online community where people post in their queries and other people can respond with a solution. The network can kept abuzzed through small events, crosscultural get-togethers, open spaces for creative freedom, shared economy. This support system must:
- Connect youth before moving to the city
- Provide avenues for career guidance
- Suggest food services
- Suggest / offer simple stay options
- A diverse age group of mentors and city guides
How do we create local entrepreneurial value chains?
- Kudumbashree NRO
- Quest Alliance
The group exchanged ideas, shared their own stories, their approaches toward entrepreneurship, discussed some socio-economic and political issues impacting them. Almost all participants are / have been part of organizations trying to incorporate Entrepreneurship into their projects and programmes.
The discussion also revolved around finding the ideal target audience to work with where Entrepreneurship makes sense.
Entrepreneurship for livelihood development could be fostered through:
- Value chain development; though is ideal for private enterprises or government organisations given their scale
- Target audience for entrepreneurship could be connected to venture capitalists; like it was in the case of Flipkart. This funding model would qualify for social entrepreneurship.
- Members from YouthNet and Kudumbashree’s shared experiences and initiatives that focused on scalability of projects, impact and subjective contexts where it worked.
The group focused on discussing factor required for creating sustainable livelihoods through entrepreneurship in rural or semi-urban setups.
Roadmap to build on:
- Government and CSR initiatives to help NGOs ideate and implement entrepreneurship support programmes.
- Draw up means to reduce funding challenges for youth who are unable to find jobs and are leaning towards entrepreneurship.
- Capacity building on entrepreneurship for development sector organisations
How do we integrate life skills into our schools curriculum equipping students from low income backgrounds with skills to succeed?
- Central Square Foundation
- Quest Alliance
Non-cognitive skills do not find the same space in the school system as academic curriculum. Teachers and school authorities do not focus adequately on these skills. Members of the group acknowledged that there is a lot of work started in formal and informal spaces around non-cognitive skills development, and that measurement of non-cognitive skills is an issue which deserves more attention. Members of the group closely work with educational institutes and strongly recommend integration of non cognitive skills into the school education system.
The group did a SWOT analysis to understand where non-cognitive skills are placed in the larger school system:
- Existing well defined programs for non-cognitive skill development
- Education policy advocates for non-cognitive skills in school curriculum
- Existing research to establish a strong connect between presence of non-cognitive skills and success in life
- Lack of teacher capacity building programs around non-cognitive skill development
- Lack of collaboration among NGOs to implement holistic model of non-cognitive skill development
- Lack of a supportive eco-system at the school level
- Definition of non-cognitive skills not uniform
- The decision making in the state department involves different players and it is difficult to get the different decision makers on the same page
- Government is open to partnership with the NGOs
- Time allocated in existing school systems for non-cognitive skills – sports, arts, SUPW
- Sustainability of NGO led programs in schools is a question
- Parental acceptance of allocating time for non-cognitive skills in the school time table
Roadmap to build on:
The group agreed that more stories of change and implementation of non-cognitive skills need to be documented and showcased as good practices.
- Schools need to allot more time within their system to implement sessions for non-cognitive skill development
- Teachers are preoccupied with non-academic tasks and the teacher student ratio is very high; this must be reduced to enable non-cognitive skill modules
- School systems need external support from NGOs to be able to effectively integrate non-cognitive skills curriculum into the schools
- Parents are concerned about academic performance and will allow for time for non-cognitive skills as long as it does not interfere with formal studies
- There are lot of programs for non-cognitive skill development which are less resource intensive and can be easily integrated into the school system.