Dr George Panicker: An Ardent Proponent of Heutagogy in Experiential Learning
Dr George Panicker
Dr. George Panicker is the CEO of ‘International S.T.E.A.M Research. Highly committed and passionate educationist and an ardent proponent of Heutagogy, read more

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, formal education has remained mostly static. In lecture halls around the globe, students still sit in rows of desks gazing at their teachers lecturing in front of the classroom delivering content that they’re expected to memorize, be tested, and be rewarded.

Highly committed and passionate educationist and an ardent proponent of Heutagogy, Dr George Panicker, CEO of ‘International S.T.E.A.M Research‘ says, “We are living in a world where content is copiously ubiquitous and easily accessible; hence memorising is obsolete.” He believes that our current educational system is stuck in a bygone era and is in desperate need of change. Just the 3 R’s of education, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, are not enough to be future-ready. Hence students must also st be proficient in the 4 C’s of the 21 century, Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. Today employers do not value college degrees as much as they value agility and adaptability, the ability to solve complex problems, creativity, people management, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility.

Staying Updated with Technology

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming the world of work. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, disrupting both jobs and the skills needed for the future. Research by McKinsey indicates that about half of the jobs performed by humans today will be disrupted by automation globally in the near future.

Learning and earning have never been more closely correlated; hence Education 4.0 is the need of the hour. Education in India, in particular, is all set to have a paradigm shift, thanks to the new National Education Policy – NEP2020.

With the exponential increase in the use of internet-based technology in industry 4.0, most sectors worldwide have responded to this change, resulting in Healthcare 4.0, Technology 4.0, etc.

“Education 4.0 is not just for students but also for teachers, as it demands teachers to upskill themselves and be facilitators, mentors, and coaches and be future-ready for a highly globalised and digitally driven world,” says Gorge Panicker hinting toward the era of new education.

“In fact, Education 4.0 is for all stakeholders in the educational ecosystem. It enables teachers to facilitate using assistive futuristic technologies instead of being confined to just the typical curriculum, and serve better to the specific needs of students,” he further adds.

The New Face of Global Education

Education 4.0 encourages nontraditional thinking. The idea is to use technology-based tools and resources to provide education in a nontraditional manner. Education can no longer be confined to traditional classrooms using textbooks with a limited number of pages of content.

Explaining how Education 4.0 can bring effective change in the way we learn, Geroge Panicker says, “It is extremely important not to underestimate the amazing capabilities students have today to personalise their learning, all within a global network, using technology. Hence, it is very important that teachers—in their highly committed attempt to educate students—do not forget to also listen to them and learn. However, technology alone cannot solve all the problems. It is imperative that schools facilitate students to move on from content-based learning to hands-on collaborative, inquiry and research-based experiential learning so that they become lifelong learners and problem solvers.”

“The best way forward is for schools to adapt with the changing times for students to take advantage of Education 4.0 and facilitate indulging in Experiential learning with a hands-on methodology and sharpening their Metacognitive Skills,” says Dr. Panicker.

Indulging Academic Excellence with S.T.E.A.M

The proven methodology to implement long-term impact-oriented Experiential learning in schools is through integrated hands-on S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) activities, which help students to work with a scientific mentality without the fear of failure and have a lot of fun. S.T.E.A.M. promotes growth and change in mental processes related to thinking, reasoning, memory, and other areas of brain development acquired from a consolidation of knowledge gained through experiences.

“Implementing STEAM Experiential Learning in schools from one day to the other is easier said than done as it entails specialised STEAM Skilling of teachers on a constant basis, as STEAM is not a static subject, rather it is dynamic and constantly evolving. It is important that schools partner with the right set of experts who can guide and help implement STEAM Experiential Learning activities within the classroom. We at International STEAM Research (ISR) provide this service to all our partner schools, maintaining the highest ethical standards,” said Dr. Panicker.

ISR empowers schools/institutions with integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Experiential Learning Labs with futuristic technologies such as Robotics, Drones, AI, AR, VR, IoT, Applied Coding, etc., for multiple types of learners within the classroom to discover and explore, eliminating the fear of failure.

ISR STEAM activities, based on the ISR 7E and CRM XP 360 frameworks, in a STEAM Lab—Happy Zone—in schools allow students to collaborate with each other in small groups to solve real-world problems through hands-on inquiry and open-ended exploration which connects various subjects through a design-thinking process. Students solve real-life problems wherein they can learn by themselves and arrive at the right option despite multiple failures. This process allows them to develop and hone their Heutagogical skills.

“In India, ISR is presently providing its services to schools in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Meghalaya, and West Bengal,” shares Dr. Panicker, proudly sharing the effectiveness of ISR.

“A common mistake one tends to make is to think coding, robotics, AI, app creation, etc., in isolation or as individual skills or subjects promoted among students is enough to address the issue of preparing students as future-ready global citizens. Sometimes the term S.T.E.A.M is thrown around as an interchangeable term for some of these catchwords. All of these terms could be interrelated, but they’re not exactly the same. For the sake of our students and quality education, it is high time these misconceptions are eliminated sooner than later,” Dr. Panicker further adds.

It is the moral responsibility of educators to help students understand the power of integration of various subjects being taught in schools, and encourage them to make meaningful connections based on their prior knowledge and real-life experiences so that learning is not imposed, nor is it in isolation. It is of paramount importance to give ample opportunity to learners to take ownership and pride in the concrete results they will achieve after they are encouraged to indulge in hands-on tasks. As a result, the learning process accelerates, and acquiring knowledge becomes interesting and enjoyable. This also helps in comprehending and retaining the knowledge lifelong. In order to facilitate students to do so within the schools, the management of the schools must make sure such initiatives are affordable, scalable, inclusive, and sustainable in the long term.

There is a growing demand for STEAM-skilled personnel across the globe. STEAM Jobs are growing three times faster in the US compared to Non-STEAM jobs.

STEAM jobs are often in the most innovative fields as well as in progressive companies leading to interesting and challenging work. 75% of the fastest-growing occupations require STEAM skills.

“STEAM Experiential Learning service, aligned to the NEP-2020, provided to schools by ISR is outcome-based and imparted to students using futuristic technologies. Students becoming future-proof and versatile is of paramount importance. However, it goes far beyond by helping students to become lifelong learners and problem solvers through a combination of skills without ignoring to be good human beings and constructive law-abiding citizens of the world,” explains Dr. Panicker.

Highlights of ISR STEAM Experiential learning outcomes:

  • Learners understand the ways that science, maths, the arts, and technology work together.
  • They apply cross-discipline knowledge to solve real-life problems.
  • Helps learners improve cognitive skills.
  • They become more creative and are able to think outside the box.
  • Helps learners eliminate the fear of failure and feel safe to express innovative and creative ideas.
  • Learners feel comfortable doing hands-on learning.
  • Learners work collaboratively with others and share tasks among the team members.
  • Learners communicate with the world around them and feel empowered to change it for the better.
  • Learners gain confidence to adopt futuristic technologies.
  • Learners apply mindfulness.

An Ardent Educator’s Advice for the Future

Dr George Panicker has been a part of numerous major educational projects in various countries. With his rich experience of over 20 years, having worked and interacted with various thought leaders and educationists from across the globe, Dr. Panicker concluded that the only way to be prepared for the future of work is to embrace the idea of helping all learners to be future-ready, mindful problem solvers.

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