'Disruptive innovation imperative for higher education'

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 28, 2014 13:50 hrs

Kolkata, Feb 28 (IANS) A top educationist Friday said the country's higher education needs to adopt the "disruptive innovation strategy", which will break through the status quo and lead to new teaching and learning methods.

Former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Arun Nigavekar said it was imperative to introduce interdisciplinary learning, credit-based modular system, exclusive teaching universities and empowered autonomous institutes.

"There has been a gap for the last 50 years... Why can't we adopt the disruptive innovation strategy in higher education... This is India's most important challenge," Nigavekar said during a lecture at the Indian Science Congress Association, Kolkata chapter.

Disruptive innovation has been defined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen as a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up the market, eventually displacing established competitors.

Nigavekar, the founder-director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, blamed the absence of inter and multi-disciplinary studies in schools for failure to bring in new ideas in research.

"Boundaries in subjects limit our students and therefore there has been no innovation. Identify topics in curriculum and explain the embedment of research in them," he said.

Nigavekar called for triggering disruptive innovations at all levels of higher education, including the current structure of 10 years of secondary school, two years of higher secondary and three years of graduate course.

"If I can learn in eight years then why do I need 10 years... If I need 12 years to learn because I am a slow learner then what? Why can't we break the 10+2+3 structure," he said.

He said India is not going forward with the concept of "perpetual change in delivery of knowledge", which is crucial to education evolution.

"Today we are not doing that... There is a need to switch to credit-based modular structure of learning. Disruptive innovation in education would mean an open and flexible system of learning," he said.

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