Do we understand our emerging digital lifestyle? What should be innovative education be like?

Bill Gates and Narayanamurthy jointly appeared on the NDTV show hosted by Prannoy Ray in mid-December. As we type these lines Bill Gates is very much in India! So, the Microsoft chairman, along with the Infosys creator along with the NDTV’s founder in their own roles demonstrate the power of the new media power that transforms our lives today.

We wonder whether this message, this message of the power of the new media, the coming of the computers, software, communications technologies, World Wide Web, Internet and now the latest companies of the Internet age, the late 90s to the present day is perhaps the golden age of man! At any rate the golden age of Indians!

Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda Gates with their enormous charities, have almost become gods-like to Indians. Gates spoke with such enthusiasm for Indian talents. He spoke of the lifestyle revolution in our lives. In Gates ‘high definition “world, the personal computer will only be an element of the digital interface of business, entertainment and instant communications. Broadband connectivity will be the backbone of the digital lifestyle revolution and broadband related products will be the drive behind its full realisation.

In India, Gates predicted, broadband connections which have just touched one million mark would soon shoot up to 10 million within next three years. Instant messaging will change the world we live in.
After nearly 2,500 years, we have today the new technologies have transformed the world. The power of these new technologies, IT and the spin-off technologies have spun the new economy industries of which Microsoft, Infosys, Google have made the world, more so the developing countries like India as sources for new inspirations, new companies, new generation of empowered youth, the engineers and technologists who have created unprecedented wealth. Microsoft’s revenues at 40 billion, Infosys, in just over 10 years accelerated its earnings to 2 billion(this year) and Prannoy Raoy who promoted NDTV, just out of thin air is now worth Rs.1,500 crores in just as few years.

Bill Gates could not have come at a more appropriate timing (this is his fourth visit to India) when he said that India “has so much amazing talent and the country has the potential for future breakthroughs. Our role is to make this happen. “.He said the best way to bring the power of computing to everyone, in the languages people know. “India has a huge amount working in its favour, a large English speaking population, a rapidly expanding skilled college graduates and engineers”. Microsoft will invest about Rs.7,500 crores in India, provide computers training in schools across Indian states, computer services to the rural poor, in Indian languages etc. A strategic vision for India!

Just before us is a latest book: The search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our Culture, by John Battelle,2005.

This should be the new bible for the new age educators. This book tells the story of the rise of the new Internet company, Google and how today we have reached a stage in our lives where we have to start saying: life before Google and life after Google!

They chose an academic thesis, they created a business, they created a technology, they made enormous wealth, they changed the world, they attained immortality! In just 9 years!
What is the message for our schools and colleges?

Don’t do an education that is not only not interesting but also impractical! These words just occur from the Google founders!

Innovative and radically thinking institutions like Stanford University and others in the USA have education programmes and labs that encourage students to come out with innovative projects that would produce ideas that can be commercialised and ideas that can help change the humanity’s future. That is Google!

Education is new knowledge. New information. This you get from diverse sources. How to get what information you want? Use your computers, visit the nearest cyber cafe, learn to access the Web. Get an email ID, get yourself ‘connected’ to the World Wide Web.

Today media is education. Education media is just the Internet! You cant start your day without opening your computer and looking for Google search!

What we find from the Indian schools and colleges is an obscure mindset. An anti-learning mindset. Schools and colleges function as islands. Islands of total ignorance and darkness!
We are sorry to say this. Our minds are not energized by the power of the education media. There is no curiosity to know what is going on in the outside world. We, our schools and colleges are not connected globally! To the global knowledge network. If these three men demonstrate anything, it is: every one of us can go on to create new heights of excellence in our minds and domains.

At this TV show Bill Gates and Narayanamurthy were asked questions as to what they think the most important priorities. They both said passion, vision etc. But both pointed to the importance of education. That is the point. Education is not just exams. It is empowering everyone of us to seek for new heights of excellence.

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