In 2000, the Indian IT industry was valued as a ten billion dollar sector. Within just 9 years of opening up our economy, we managed to position ourselves as leaders in the newly developing digital world. Silicon Valley start-ups were dotted with scores of Indian programmers and developers who provided the backbone for this innovation.
The important question is how were we able to do this?
The answer is quite simple if you lived through the 1990s in India. We were able to do this simply due to the way our entire system changed and cogently geared itself towards making India a digital hub. The government-built computer labs into school and integrated them into the curriculum; computer science was made a compulsory subject for all students; engineering colleges came up rapidly to produce highly competent programmers. This is what gave India a footing in the global IT workforce and has resulted in an incredible foreign investment into our economy.
22 years later, we stand at the precipice of yet another significant global boom; that of Web 3.0. The immersive world of Metaverse with AR and VR stands to change the way our global economy operates and the kind of jobs we can expect to see in the next 10 years.
What lessons can we use from our past success to ensure that we produce a competent future workforce for the world of Metaverse?
Work Within the System
When it comes to addressing the future workforce, we must not limit ourselves to working outside the system. Skilling programs, while extremely important and necessary, simply work to retrospectively address symptoms of the problem without engaging with the core issue. We need to complement these skilling initiatives with similar such efforts within the system.
Our future workforce is currently sitting in classrooms, acquiring knowledge and learning skills not relevant in the coming decade. If we truly want to address the root problem, we need to take a page out of our 1990s experience and start at the very bottom of our education system. We need to introduce digital citizenship, cybersafety, AR, and VR as necessary modules in school curriculums to ensure that our future workforce is acquainted with how to work in the new world of immersive internet. This is how we can retain and further strengthen our position in the global digital economy.
But what can this integration look like and how can we go about it thoughtfully?
How best to integrate Metaverse into our school’s curriculum?
If we want to train our future workforce on the immersive internet, Metaverse, we must first ensure that they are well-versed with Web 3.0 and immersive technologies. This is what school curriculums could look like:
- 6th – 8th Grade: At this stage, you want students to just develop an affinity and fondness for immersive technologies. Do you remember how excited students were to play games and make drawings on MS paint in school? Similarly, AR and VR should be introduced as a hobby club or a skill subject where interested students can get together every 2 weeks and just play around with the technology and learn about its immersive experience.
- 9th – 10th Grade: Now, we should introduce this as a formal subject that students can take as an elective or as a part of the computer science course. AR/VR/XR can also be used to make STEM subjects exciting and visual.
- 11th – 12th Grade: At this stage, AR and VR should be introduced as a specialised subject that interested students can take to seriously explore a future in this space, before heading off to universities or even starting as entrepreneurs.
This structured curriculum can easily be introduced and implemented in most schools that already teach computer science and host computer labs. We need to learn to look at AR and VR as an aid to learning and skilling, and not just a singular and isolated subject. To understand how this technology is going to be so much more, just think about how relevant computers are today no matter what you do. Let’s prepare our future workforce to thrive in this new world of the Metaverse.
(The author of this article Manav Subodh- Managing Director of 1M1B ( One Million for One Billion) Foundation)