New Horizon: Micro Schools and Learning Pods

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Innovation and change have been the hallmark of human progress from age-old times. There has always been a sense of urgency borne out of circumstantial developments, driving the need for man to innovate. Be it rudimentary but vital discoveries like the invention of fire, the wheel, and the very latest technologies that always seems to be at threat of losing their utility to the new ones under development; every innovation is desperately driven by an unsatiated desire to improve human life and experience.

In such a scenario, how can learning and education be far behind? The millennial’s and the future generations are at the forefront of being both the end-users and the developers of such revolutionary methods of learning that is hard to contemplate today. The technological advancements that enable the colossal amount of data to traverse the globe in milliseconds, classrooms, and student discussions, no matter where they are held on this planet, can be accessed virtually at ease sitting in our homes.

This technology is no surprise as it has been there for a while, and many of us though being aware of its existence, was not so impressed by its potential since the need to use or rather depend on it was not so dire until a very recent development of an unprecedented nature, the Pandemic, affecting almost the entire world came our way. The Covid-19 Virus, with no viable cure at the time, has left people with no option but to lock themselves up in their homes to keep them and their children safe and protected.

A new dimension has been added to human life on a global scale by the Pandemic creating the need to innovate in every sphere. Everybody seems paranoid to venture out and want goods and services to be home delivered, and learning too is not considered to be outside this sphere. Paranoid parents fear the day when the state decides to re-open schools, and the majority of them would be wary of sending their kids to school.

To cater to this pressing need, a concept of Micro Schooling and Learning Pods is widely being contemplated, especially in the West. Affluent parents are seriously working out an option where a tutor comes home and teaches a group of 3-5 children, possibly of the same neighbourhood, taking all necessary precautions. India too is not far behind, and a similar learning concept is being devised and adopted in the IT City, Bengaluru. An Entrepreneur based in the city has come up with a concept called “Genius Micro Schools” focused on technological education.

The micro-schools under this concept will have entrepreneur teachers, who can run these schools from home via a technology that has been specially designed for the learning needs, interests, and pace of every child. The product aims to create a knowledge graph of every child and change the content, practice, homework accordingly, optimizing the learning experience. The teachers can run micro-schools with about 5-8 students. Moreover, the extensive use of technology is being considered to train teachers and optimize time.

The whole concept as of now is in the nascent stage, but how it will evolve and sustain will depend on its alignment with the prevailing education system and policy, along with the willingness of parents to experiment. After all, one would agree that this concept is widely being discussed and considered given the prevailing pandemic situation, which is strongly believed to be a temporary affair even if it persists longer than expected.

Also, one cannot undermine the fact that the conventional schooling system still forms the basis of mainstream education. This system has evolved over a long time and has come to be the foundation of learning, primarily on account of a series of improvements it went through during its long evolution process. However, there have been instances in the past where home-schooling has been experimented by a select few.

But the question is, are we looking at this concept as an option or an alternative to conventional schooling and how far would people be inclined to switch over to the new concept which is not yet tested well enough to prove its efficacy. The infrastructure of a formal school aimed at the comprehensive development of a child by providing facilities and opportunities to expand the potential of both the mind and body would be hard to match-up for a micro-school.

There has to be something on offer by this concept of micro-schooling and learning pods, which makes the parents see value in it, other than merely being perceived as a stop-gap arrangement for the current times. It will be the uniqueness and permanence of that value, which will determine the future of this new concept. For one, we are all sure that no matter what, the conventional schools will continue to exist. It is the micro-schooling idea that needs to create a niche for itself and get a firm foothold in the education domain. How things would unfold for them, that only time will tell.

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