Next-Generation Digital Learning Environment
A new definition of success in the context of CBE is crucial to derive system improvements that are built around students' needs, including:
- an instructional shift;
- system of assessment;
- expanded pathways; and
- better learning environments connected to the communities and to the real world.
Information technology has a significant role to play in supporting this thrust. Current school systems, howsoever efficient they might be, lack personalized learning, timely differentiated support to learners, and the overall learning experience is not yet aligned to the real-life competencies. The global lockdown of education institutions has resulted in major interruption in students’ learning, quality of instructions, disruptions in internal assessments, and the cancellation of public assessments for qualifications.
One of the biggest challenges is building communities of educators with the skills aligned to the requirements of global competence framework, and ascertaining the quality outcomes with respect to the instructional and assessment shift being advocated by the school boards. Schools need robust next-generational tools to attain the requisite learning outcomes and meet the global competence standards.
To address the challenges and opportunities facing education, whatever was next would need to be next generational, meaning that it requires out-of-the-box thinking and, above all, the ability to support academic transformation—change that is both strategic and institutional in scope. It also needed to be digital, since almost everything concerning learning in education touches or is enabled in one way or another by digital technology. Further, it needed to be about learning, meaning a learner-centered focus, providing the basis for both instructor and learner success. Since it is about learning, it has to offer ways of moving past the fixation on the traditional course and the administration of courses. And finally, it needed to be an environment, a setting comprising many interacting components that enable learning of all kinds to flourish. Hence the rather lumbering name for this what's-next thing became the next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE)  .
The seven key features essential for an NGDLE for implementing competency-based education would include:
- Student-Centered Learning: Learners are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning;
- Meaningful Authentic Assessment Authoring and Rendering System: Offers meaningful assessments empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence;
- Powerful Feedback & Recommendation Engine: Learners receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs;
- Meaningful Analytics: Learners progress based on evidence of mastery;
- Learning Pathways: Learners learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing;
- Equity in Education: Offers strategies to ensure equity (inclusiveness) for all students of schools and education systems;
- Powerful Reference Framework Designer: Offers an integrated framework defining rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) that are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.
It is important to note that though CBSE termed the new system as CBE, it is not a complete implementation of all the principles of CBE. The CBSE framework currently focuses on introducing competency-based examination reforms in the school system to help move away from rote learning. Thus, any NGDLE offering a system of designing an outcome-based reference framework for alignment with learning experiences in a school system, offering a powerful authoring and rendering environment for developing authentic case-based/ source-based integrated questions, and meaningful analytics with a differentiated feedback engine will suffice the need of the schools at this point.
The global lockdown of education institutions has resulted in major interruption in students’ learning, quality of instructions, disruptions in internal assessments, and the cancellation of public assessments for qualifications. In the midst of this crisis, India is getting ready for PISA-Test 2021 and shifting to competency-based education. While examination and assessment reforms are being implemented, there is a strong need for a robust digital learning environment supporting the key components for delivering competency-based education. We may aim to ensure a quality education by addressing the multiple challenges before us — the training of educators with the skills aligned to the global competence framework and implementation of a next-generation digital learning environment.