Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity Blog

Raghu Pandey    

The Future of Schools: Survival & Success in the Future Dominated by NEP + AI + Internet

The education sector has almost entered into a storm. A big storm! The three very strong winds - Education Policy (NEP), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the omnipresent Internet, are poised to rock even the biggest of ships (schools). As we enter deeper into the storm, here is my straightforward question to every school leader - Is your school ready for this biggest-ever disruption?


Do you remember "Blackberry"? - A Lesson for Schools

Once the king of the smartphone industry, Blackberry's decline to near obscurity within a span of five years is a tale of caution. The root cause? Myopia. Blackberry was fixated on the existing demand for full-keyboard smartphones, completely overlooking the rise of and shift towards touchscreen phones. By the time they realized their mistake, it was too late. The lesson for school leaders is pretty clear: While new competitors might nibble away at market shares, an emerging format or concept can completely obliterate demand for existing products.


What is the New Emerging Format of Education?

It’s the 21st Century Education, which in today’s context, is all about making students ready for an AI-dominated world. This new education format emphasizes the readiness of students to thrive in the face of technological advancements led by AI and changing global landscapes, explained best by the popular term ‘VUCA’ (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous).


How Strong is the Demand for 21st Century Education?

Is the industry demanding? YES, strongly!
The demand from the companies and corporations across the world is getting stronger for making students AI-ready (I.e. ready for an AI-dominated career). Specifically they want students to be equipped with 4Cs (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication) and Internet maturity.

Is the government demanding? YES, strongly! (look at the NEP)
The National Education Policy released by Government of India has laid out a comprehensive guideline for Indian schools & colleges to transform themselves into truly 21st century educational institutions. The government is slowly but steadily pushing the guideline to become a rulebook for compulsory compliance.

Are the parents demanding? NO!
THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES! The vast majority of parents (the paying customers of schools) have no clue about the major disruptions about to hit their children’s lives. They will not change their demands about desired outcomes of school education unless they witness it becoming completely useless for their children in the 21st century career and life. Once they do witness the disruption, they will INSTANTLY change their demands from the school. But will the “old” schools be able to change themselves fast enough to cater to the new demands? Only by some miracle, which usually do not happen. No miracle happened for Blackberry whose customers changed their demands, overnight, after getting infatuated by the new iPhone (or the touchscreen smartphones). They never looked back at Blackberry ever since. That’s how cold blooded and emotionless customers are. Do you know from which corner the iPhone of school education is emerging?


Avoiding the “Blackberry Fate” for Schools

For schools to avoid the Blackberry's fate, it's critical to NOT repeat what Blackberry did. Blackberry focused only on their existing customers, and that too on their current demands. That caused FATAL delays for them! Focusing only on the current demands of parents can cause DANGEROUS delays for the school management!

So, a school which wants to survive & thrive beyond 2025 MUST respect the demands from the industry and the government (NEP). This means honoring and tactfully convincing the parents, today, about the necessity of embracing change for tomorrow. That’s difficult but the only way forward! If you are a school leader, you must be thinking…

“Oh great. Now we got to sail on three boats! Industry’s expectations, Government’s expectations and Parents’ expectations. What a time to be alive!”

Well, THANKFULLY, it’s “only” two boats :) Because, Government’s expectation of becoming NEP ready is almost exactly the same as the Industry’s expectation of making your students AI ready. This is indeed big relief for school leaders. You may all thank God, now.

The action plan for schools is clear - gain the confidence of parents and set clear goals for your NEP & AI readiness (or you can call it your digital transformation).


Setting the Right Goals for the Future of Your School

These should be your goals to achieve by 2026:

  1. Make Our School NEP & AI Ready.
  2. Prepare Our Students for the 21st Century and AI.
  3. Build a Great Online Reputation for Our School.
  4. Ensure Good Digital Discipline Among Our Students.


Goal #1 - To make your school 100% NEP & AI ready

To achieve this goal, you have to first understand what NEP wants your school to become. While I strongly recommend you read the Official NEP document in detail multiple times, iMature team has created a ‘20 questions exam paper’ for school leaders to attempt and thereby understand all the major teaching-learning scenarios NEP wants to see happening in your school. We call it ‘The Toughest Exam for Indian Schools’ :) Download the question paper here.

Here is a quick summary of what NEP wants schools to do:

  1. Define the new role for teachers. All of your teachers must be good at these 5 Cs - Create content, Curate content, Conduct flipped classes, Coach students, and Counsel students.
  2. Make the OPTIMUM use of technology in teaching-learning. You have to find a balance between the underuse & overuse of digital technologies in your school.
  3. Set new learning goals for students. All of your students, especially above the primary grades, must become very good at these 4 Cs - Critical thinking, Creativity (problem solving), Collaboration, and Communication. They must also become experts in self-learning using Internet.

REMEMBER: Your teachers cannot fit into the new role, your students cannot achieve the new learning goals, and both cannot make the optimum use of digital technologies without a STRONG foundation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills!


Goal #2 - To make your students 21st century & AI ready

If you’re working for 100% NEP readiness, you DON’T have to do anything extra! It’s the same boat. 21st century readiness and AI readiness comes from strong self-learning skills combined with the 4Cs - Critical thinking, Creativity (problem solving), Collaboration, and Communication.

REMEMBER: Your students cannot develop self-learning skills and ‘4Cs’, without a STRONG foundation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills!


Goal #3 - To develop a great Online Reputation of your school

In today's digital age, you or your organization is only as good as you are seen on the Internet! Harsh truth. Your school's online reputation is a critical asset which you must nurture, build and maintain. Before you start acting on my recommendation, understand that it is NOT digital marketing we are talking about. Money CANNOT buy a great online reputation. It can only be grown organically. What does that mean? It means, for your school to have a great online reputation, your teachers & students must:

  • Produce GOOD quality digital content on a REGULAR basis, which must be showcased on your school website and the official social media pages.
  • Maintain their own online reputations VERY WELL.

None of that can be outsourced to a 3rd party agency. The digital content can include blog posts, videos, and various creative projects that prove the school's commitment to 21st-century education.

REMEMBER: Your teachers & students cannot create good digital content and cannot manage their own online reputations, without a STRONG foundation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills!


Goal #4 - To ensure high level of Digital Discipline in your school

Whether or not school leaders know or acknowledge, the problem of 'digital discipline' is growing among students in schools. Including your school. Your students are already indulging in overuse, misuse & risky-use of the Internet almost everyday! Schools are already dealing with police & courts in cyber-legal cases.

Whether it is gaming addiction for PUBG like games, or obsession for posting selfies on Instagram, or endless chatting on Snapchat & Whatsapp, or cases of cyber bullying, or creating fake IDs of teachers, or the online gutters known as confession pages, or easy access to gambling, pornography and violence, or self-harm challenges like the blue-whale, or mindless plagiarism, or hacking for fun… its almost like your school is on fire. A digital fire!

And that's not all! Your students are also doing some very risky things by connecting with strangers online. That's why many of them are at a risk of getting physically exploited, harassed, stalked, blackmailed or brainwashed. So if you are wondering why some of your really bright students are faltering or acting strange, its probably they are having a crisis in their digital life.

I hope you realize the gravity of the above problem and NOT seek some quick-fix solution (such as some awareness workshops). The comprehensive long-term solution to above problem is ensure proper implementation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity (DCIM) program in your school. Gear-up to adopt DCIM is a regular subject for the teenage students.

One thing which you can do immediately is to implement a strong AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). It’s a code of digital conduct for students & teachers, which also provides a fair degree of legal protection to the school in cyber-legal cases. Download the Free AUP Draft here.

But, REMEMBER: Your teachers & students cannot comply with your school’s AUP, without a STRONG foundation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills!


To Summarize the Importance of DCIM Skills:

Without a strong foundation of Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills, your students and teachers…
Cannot create good digital content.
Cannot comply with your school’s AUP cannot develop self-learning skills and ‘4Cs’.
Cannot manage their own online reputations.
Cannot perform well in the new NEP scenarios.
Cannot make the optimum use of digital technologies.
Cannot utilize AI tools effectively for teaching-learning.

You won’t be surprised/sceptical about why can’t our students & teachers do the above things without having DCIM skills, when you look at what skills are included in the DCIM subject:

  1. Understanding what is Web 2.0.
  2. Creating & sharing digital content effectively.
  3. Mature way of Social Networking.
  4. Mature way of professional Networking.
  5. Doing online Forum discussions effectively.
  6. Writing Blogs effectively for Self-Expression.
  7. Searching trustworthy knowledge online.
  8. Utilizing open courseware & MOOCs for self-learning and self-training.
  9. Being safe from online threats & acting ethically Online.
  10. Building a positive Online Reputation for career success.


If that’s strong enough case for you to implement a DCIM program in your school, here is how you can do it:

Stage-1: School warms-up to the concept of DCIM education. Establish a DCIM club in your school and run it actively (Download the free DCIM Club Toolkit). Provide at least 2 hours per week to the DCIM club team to perform its activities.

Stage-2: Solid DCIM foundation - School gets ready for NEP. While keeping the DCIM club active, make DCIM a regular subject for grades 8 to 12. In addition, provide ‘Digital Educator Transformation’ training to all teachers.

Stage-3: Advanced DCIM skills - School excels with NEP. While keeping the DCIM club active, bring higher level DCIM courses into your school’s academic program for students of grades 9 to 12.


iMature team is ready to support the school leaders at all of the above stages. I hope you now understand that without a strong DCIM program your school cannot become NEP & AI ready. And without becoming NEP & AI ready, you will make Charles Darwin unhappy. Would you want to do that?

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About the Author
Raghu is the founder of He has been working & talking on DCIM since 2010, and loving it! View other posts by Raghu Pandey.

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