Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Importance of Learning and Applying New Skills Relevant for the 21st Century Work Environment

Akash turned on his tablet and looked at the movie he had created. This was his school assignment for the week – a presentation about his chosen species of dinosaur. Akash had picked the biggest of them all and decided to make a movie out of it. He learnt that an average human can retain 95% of video as opposed to only 10% of text. He had goggled extensively looking for as much information as he could find on this species. For more authentic material Akash had looked up his Encyclopedia Britannica CD collection as well. All details collected, he had proceeded to storyboard the movie’s screenplay using PowerPoint and then created the actual movie with his favourite movie making software. He had received help on fine tuning it from members of an online movie makers’ forum. He was finally satisfied with his efforts and was going through his assignment one last time before submission.

An incoming call from his mother broke his concentration. Her face flashed on the screen he was happy to see her. Mother and son chatted for some time about their respective days. He had to log off soon though since his Math’s class was about to start. The eClass session was already running and most of his classmates were online. Within a few minutes the teacher could be seen in the video in one part of the screen while the learning material occupied the remaining half. Akash submitted the movie to his science teacher via Dropbox and got ready for his Math’s module. A recording of this module would be available for him to view later, if he missed anything.

By the time Akash finished his graduation some years later, he hardly had to step into his school or university campus. Both these institutions were a part of the Second Life world and he could visit anytime he wanted. He remembered fondly the only times he had actually gone to the campus to play his part on the basketball court in tournaments. And to meet and thanks his teachers.

Now he was enrolled into MIT for his MBA. He had managed to drastically cut the cost of his education by being a student at their virtual campus. He could be anywhere in the world and still partake of the excellent learning the Institute offered. He did not have to bother with costly housing, or a job to earn while he studied. What he loved most was the fact that the entire college library was available to him on his tablet.

Akash used the mobility he had, to travel the world. His parents were supportive; they could be in touch with him anytime and he did not miss any classes. His professors encouraged it too. He collected real experiences to strengthen his learning as he travelled. It was something the virtual universities could not expose him to. He had picked up movie making as a hobby and he had a serious interest in that craft. He wanted to meet in person, the people who had helped him over the years via the online movie maker forums.

With Akash’s interesting profile combining world travel and an excellent education, it was not long before he was placed with Wipro. He visited the Company campus to understand the rich history, the work culture and to meet his batch mates. This would be his only visit for some years now. As an employee, he had a virtual presence in the company and he had access to everything that he needed to add value to his role. He was connected via his virtual desk, and eCampus to colleagues. Akash was impressed with Wipro’s Cloud university and the repertoire of trainings it offered. The Company strongly encouraged collaboration via virtual forums, wikis and CoEs – shared knowledge enriched everyone’s experience and the world had realized that it was the most effective way to learn. 

As he reflected on his journey to date, Akash thought of the common thread that ran through all his learning so far in the eClasses, eUniversities and eCampuses – the online platforms could teach you almost anything and everything, but a facilitator was irreplaceable even in this wired world.

My first prize winning entry for the Wipro CHRD Leadership day article contest.