Most of the technical educational institutions in the nation follow conventional methods in the teaching-learning process. Today's world is driven by technology. As in the words of Sheryl Beach, "Teachers will not be replaced by technology but teachers who do not use will be replaced by those who do." Also, the fast and rapidly changing needs of the industries must be fulfilled by technical educational institutions to make their student's industry-ready. It is high time that these institutions also must realize the need to introduce many new innovative and novel educational practices to make their students employable and sustaining.
"Education should not only be sustainable and wide-ranging but also must constantly update to meet the challenges of the ever-changing globalized world"
Innovation evolves a novel idea that can help us to do it in an enhanced manner. The ultimate purpose of innovation is to create something different in terms of quality and quantity. Like any other sector, innovation is greatly needed in technical education. Education should not only be sustainable and wide-ranging but also must constantly update to meet the challenges of the ever-changing globalized world. Hence, the administrators and faculty members must adopt innovative practices in teaching-learning to ensure quality education imparted to all the students to face their life and career in accordance with the changing needs of society.
The traditional teaching methods including lecture methods, discussion methods, case studies, programmed instructions, role play, demonstration, educational field trips are the most widely used ones in the process. Most of all the methods, the lecture method occupies a predominant place in the teaching learning process. Lecturing provides very little scope for negotiation and construction of meaning. This traditional method makes the students to be passive rather than active participants. This teacher centric method denies the development of many important skills like communication skills, interpersonal skills, creativity skills, problem solving skills and all other skills that would make the students to be more employable and excel well in their life and career. It is understood that there exists a prevalent gap between the teaching learning methods followed and the methods necessary for the students of the present days to advance with the changing needs of industry and the advent of new technologies.
This gap can be addressed through the introduction of innovative educational practices that can kindle up the students thinking skills and keep them active in the teaching learning process. The implementation of innovative methods in teaching learning is addressed by many researchers. Innovations in education are of particular importance because education plays a crucial role in creating a sustainable future. Such innovative best educational practices can augment the teaching learning process and thereby ensure actual learning happen. Some best practices that can be adopted by all the institutions are presented.
a) Student Centric Learning (SCL)
Student Centric Learning (SCL) is an innovative teaching learning practice based on Problem Based Learning (PBL) being adopted in many foreign universities and institutions. This method helps the students in solving the given problems with their prior knowledge. Here the teacher acts as a facilitator.
In this system, students can be divided into a number of small groups consisting of four to six members with different learning capabilities. A problem is to be given to the group of students for which the students will have to solve the problem with the help of their acquired knowledge and other available resources like a library, e-learning materials and internet and many more. Here, the faculty acts as a facilitator and guide them in solving the problems. This provides a thorough understanding of the concepts and processes through active learning and cooperative participation. This system creates active learning and builds up teamwork among the students where the performance of the students is uniform and consistent throughout the learning process. This helps the students to enhance the technical and communication skills and perform well in their interviews.
b) Students Facilitator for Peer Learning
In order to facilitate peer learning, Student Facilitators can be appointed to handle the classes on the respective courses in consultation with their teachers. In addition, the student facilitators shall be encouraged by a suitable honorarium. This practice instills confidence among the student facilitators and encourages other students to take part as student facilitators. This helps the other students to learn well and promotes peer learning.
c) Students Talk
All the students are given a chance to present their ideas for about five to seven minutes in every classroom. The students may be allowed to present in their order of attendance (one student per day on a daily basis). Slow learners and the students who have stage fear can be given chances again to improve their communication and presentation skills. This practice opens up newer areas of enhancing their knowledge together with improving their language competency.
d) Employer Centric Learning
Real-time industrial exposure and business must be imparted to the students during their study in the educational institutions. In order to serve this, entrepreneurs, industrialists and employers can be invited to share their experiences and knowledge with the students either in-person or through online live sessions showcasing the actual working in industries. This best practice helps the students to learn the real-time industrial scenario and prepare them for their forthcoming careers in the industries.
e) MOOC Courses
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses available for anyone to enroll. MOOC provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills and advance with emerging technologies. Many foreign and Indian uni-versities offer a wide range of courses in various disciplines. The students and faculty can be encouraged to take-up MOOC to enhance their skills and update the latest ad-vancements in their respective fields.
The words of Steve Jobs, 'Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower' rightly emphasize the importance of adopting innovations to become a leader. Aptly, such innovations in the education sector with the best educational practices will certainly enhance the quality of the students and thereby help them emerge successful in the international arena.
Dr. V. Karthikeyan, Principal
Dr. V. Karthikeyan is the Principal of Thiagarajar Polytechnic College, Salem a Government-aided autonomous institution. With his Bachelor's Degree (Civil) from Government College of Engineering, Salem and Master's degree from Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, he also acquired Ph.D., for research on Municipal Solid Waste Management. He holds the prestigious CMI Level 5 certificate obtained through UKIERI Training on 'Further Education Leadership Development' sponsored by the AICTE, New Delhi. With more than 35 years of service under various capacities, he has been instrumental in placing Thiagarajar Polytechnic College in high pedestals in the nation through his untiring efforts and keen involvement.