Dr George Panicker: Promoting STEAM Experiential Learning with Futuristic Technologies

Dr George Panicker
Dr George Panicker | Founder | CEO

Whatever progress we as a modern civilization ever achieved has always been empowered by mightily spirited visionary leaders marching on the noble mission of fostering education with compassionate hearts, ingenious minds, resolute willpower, and innovative entrepreneurial acumen. Swimming against the currents of established norms, they disrupt the contemporary trends to extract novel wisdom from the depth of the eternal ocean of knowledge.

And with those transcendental insights, they revolutionize the present to shape the future and inspire a new generation of thinkers, learners, and believers in the human cause–educating ourselves to advance together for a glorious tomorrow.

Following in the path of legends, Dr George Panicker and Capt. Shaji Sebastian established International STEAM Research (ISR) to create an advanced league of futuristic innovators and self-determined learners. Achieving remarkable success within a short span in India, ISR is the best service provider in S.T.E.A.M Experiential Learning, empowering schools pan India and a firm that offers its services at the most affordable cost in the world.

Quoting Irina Bokova, the Former Director-General of UNESCO – “There is no more powerful transformative force than education—to promote human rights and dignity, to eradicate poverty and deepen sustainability, to build a better future for all, founded on equal rights and social justice, respect for cultural diversity, and international solidarity and shared responsibility, all of which are fundamental aspects of our common humanity,” – Dr Panicker says that they at ISR, have imbibed this philosophy into their core functioning.

Inculcating the Universal Force

According to Dr Panicker, to contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, they at ISR provide programmes based on Science and Technology through the use of Engineering and Artistic processes based on the principles of Mathematics called S.T.E.A.M.

He states, “Our intention is not to make anyone an expert in all these subjects but harnessing the essential transferable skills behind them which are vital for a thriving economy and a safe, sustainable society. To do so, we provide scalable, sustainable, inclusive, and integrated STEAM programmes utilizing the expertise of forward thinkers, administrators, teachers, and institutional support and impact students. Hence, the inception of International STEAM Research (ISR).”

Started by two multifaceted educationists, Dr George Panicker – the Founder and CEO, and Capt. Shaji Sebastian – Founder and Mentor of ISR, have been working and promoting STEAM Experiential Learning with various institutions and organizations across the globe since 2020.

By providing quality education (SDG 4) for all, ISR intends to help break the cycle of poverty (SDG 1) and reach gender equality (SDG 5). These three Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will help people obtain decent work and contribute towards their economies (SDG 8) and will be empowered them to live healthier lives (SDG 3) through inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation (SDG 9). “Through education, we can foster the values of empathy and inclusiveness key to reducing inequalities (SDG 10), ultimately leading to peaceful societies (SDG 16),” reveals Dr Panicker.

Education Reboot

Both Dr Panicker and Capt. Sebastian believes that there is an urgent need to realign our formal education, which has remained mostly static since the dawn of industrialization.

Dr Panicker feels, “A paradigm shift from traditional education philosophy based on standardized test scores to a modern ideal which focuses on valuing the learning process as much as the results is the need of the hour.”

The significance and relevance of teachers, textbooks or content can never be overruled. He adds, “However, there is always a need for innovation and re-invention with the context and challenges we face due to rapid changes in and around us.” To bridge this gap, experiential learning comes in handy as it connects content to the learner’s real-world, making it more relevant, applicable, and easier to imbibe.

Thus, Dr Panicker and Capt. Sebastian has designed the ISR STEAM ecosystem model to promote invention literacy through innovative collaboration and cooperation between various institutions, organizations, communities, networks, and thought leaders, “This is key to developing mindful life-long learners and problem-solvers for a sustainable world,” says Dr Panicker.

Ushering in a New Dawn of Innovation

Dr Panicker, an ardent proponent of Heutagogy and a highly dedicated and fervent educationist, says, “We live in a world where content is copiously ubiquitous and easily accessible, making memorizing obsolete; hence the ISR STEAM Experiential Learning is context-based based and not just content-based.

Dr Panicker further thinks that before it is too late, we must break the traditional shackles of the educational system and restore it completely. Customary aspects of education, like reading, memorizing, writing, and doing arithmetic, are insufficient to meet future demands. He adds that it is our responsibility to make our students proficient in the 4 C’s of the 21st century, Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration.

He explains, “Today, instead of college degrees, employers ask for qualities like creativity, ingenuity, innovation, agility and adaptability, critical thinking, complex problem-solving ability, people management skills, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility.”

ISR empowers schools/institutions to develop mindful problem solvers through integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Experiential Learning Labs equipped with futuristic technologies like Robotics, Drones, AI, AR, VR, IoT, Applied Coding, etc., aligned to the various stages as per NEP-2020 guidelines.

A Futuristic Wisdom Network

In fact, according to Dr Panicker, the NEP2020 is a revolutionary document, and it positions India as a leader in Education 4.0 encompassing all stakeholders of the educational ecosystem. It encourages teachers to go beyond the traditional selective and limited curriculum-based teaching by enabling them to leverage futuristic assistive technologies. This way, they can improve student engagement by fostering personalized learning. Out-of-the-box thinking is a crucial aspect of Education 4.0.

The future of education lies in integrating Experiential learning with practical, research-based activities into the schools’ core pedagogy so that students can develop their Metacognitive Skills,” says Dr Panicker.

He adds that to develop a scientific mentality in students, ‘S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Experiential learning hands-on activities,’ is proving to be the perfect methodology where students learn having fun without the fear of failure.

Exemplifying an Immersive Dynamism

Since ISR STEAM Experiential Learning is not a fixed curriculum-based subject but is continuously evolving in a dynamic and organic manner, integrating it into daily students’ routines is quite challenging. It demands teachers to be on their toes all the time and constantly upskill themselves with new standards and novel technologies.

Hence, it is imperative for educational institutes to collaborate with experts who can guide them in seamlessly integrating STEAM Experiential Learning activities within their existing infrastructure without having to make large-scale financial investments.

Designed on the ISR 7E methodology and CRM XP 360 frameworks, ISR activities in a STEAM Lab, which is commonly known as ‘Happy Zone,’ encourages students to collaborate by forming small groups and finding solutions to real-world problems through critical thinking, research-based inquiry, and open-ended exploration, incorporating multiple subjects through a holistic design-thinking process.

While learning by themselves in collaboration and having fun, students arrive at the result by failing multiple times. “This process allows them to develop and hone their Heutagogical skills,” assures Dr Panicker. To facilitate students to do so within the schools, the management of the schools must make sure such initiatives are affordable, scalable, inclusive, and sustainable in the long term.

All schools that have partnered with ISR in India are extremely appreciative of the high-quality international standard, personalized and customized service ISR has been providing to each one of them.

Happy Zone

The learning environment in a HAPPY ZONE/STEAM Lab is student-centric, which lets students control their own learning and enables them to think critically, evaluate, make decisions and construct knowledge, making the learning experience cooperative, collaborative and independent, resulting in bridging the gap between theory and practice. It is not simply doing too many activities in a class, for example just Robotics or Coding in isolation, taking students out to visit places without any specific learning aim, utilizing expensive resources for learning, or watching videos in a smart class.

It is also very important to note that any and every hands-on activity cannot be considered experiential learning. Just because the activities may be hands-on, it does not mean it is mind-on. Many projects, field trips, and situations do not yield lasting outcomes because too little or negligible time is given to assimilate and conceptualize the experience in the true STEAM Experiential learning framework.

ISR STEAM Experiential learning is designed for school education in line with the curricular and pedagogical structure of the National Education Policy consisting of four stages: Foundational, Preparatory, Middle, and Secondary Stage.

Experiential Learning enables and empowers learners to connect learning based on their prior knowledge, reflect on it, and then conceptualize it before applying it to new situations, making learning meaningful. Also, learning is meaningful and authentic when learners engage in real-world experiences through multisensory approaches rather than passively absorbing text from textbooks.

Teachers in a school can plan learning experiences by creatively engaging students with available local resources. However, to realistically plan and execute the STEAM activities sustainably and inclusively within the classroom within a specific time and space, the ISR XP Kit is provided to the learners by the ISR-trained facilitators. This makes the life of teachers in the school easier.

Intelligence Infinitum

As experiential learning encourages independent reflection and observation, it allows the classroom to cater to the diversified learning styles of learners. In the case of classrooms with learners from different backgrounds and cultural contexts, the ISR facilitators are trained to customize the learning experiences to address diversity effectively. Through ISR STEAM experiential learning, the learner absorbs, applies, and then reflects upon the knowledge gained through their experience.

Experiential learning allows the learners to take ownership and pride in the concrete result after their hands-on activities. As a result, the learning process accelerates, and knowledge acquisition becomes interesting and enjoyable, thereby comprehending and retaining the knowledge lifelong.

ISR STEAM Experiential Education is education board and curriculum agnostic. Hence any school following any education board or curriculum can provide ISR STEAM Experiential learning to its learners and add value to its existing curriculum.

Mirroring Hemispheres

The dichotomy between Experience and Experiential must always be kept in mind by educators. Experience or Experiencing refers to learning by doing, which may or may not involve reflection. ISR STEAM Experiential learning 7E methodology, however, is more specific, planned, and involves learning by self-reflection. Hence it makes the learner responsible for their own learning.

ISR STEAM Experiential learning requires much planning on the facilitator’s part. They have to check how to make the learning engagements connect to real-life situations and are meaningful to the learner. For this, the facilitator must also have a fair amount of background information. What works for one school/classroom setting may or may not work in another. So, local context and resources must be connected to the lesson plans so that the experience can be imbibed and the learner is not disengaged. If not, any activity may be simply a teacher-led classroom activity. A dedicated and highly skilled Research & Development team of STEAM Experts at the ISR R&D centre facilitates the planning of dynamic and customized lesson plans for the ISR facilitators of individual ISR partner schools.

It would be rather difficult for a non-ISR STEAM skilled teacher/facilitator to develop lesson plans for a classroom following the ISR 7E cycle. Hence, it is of utmost importance that a teacher/facilitator is STEAM Skilled through regular ISR capacity-building trainings and is in sync with the ISR R&D team.

Crafting Heutagogical Thinkers

Dr Panicker believes that the future job market belongs to the heutagogical and versatile. Sophisticated technologies with AI, Robotics, IoT, coding, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc., will make the future workforce almost unrecognizable and will displace millions of workers. “Glimpses of which we are already experiencing today, with artificial intelligence being used by law firms, banks, accounting firms, hospitals, corporations, and education platforms, have already started displacing jobs,” he cites.

High-precision, long-duration, critical surgeries are being carried out by robots that do not get tired. Cancerous cells and other critical diseases will be detected by AI, which will be far more precise than what a human eye could do. Driverless cars, air taxis, face recognition check-ins and check-outs at airports and shopping malls, food delivery by drones, construction, and manufacturing with the help of 3D printing and robots will drive our economy. Even the music industry has started using machine learning. It AI to produce music in numerous languages through a neural network of machine algorithms that can perform as good as a human.

Mission: Smart Minds

There is a growing demand for STEAM-skilled personnel across the globe. STEAM Jobs are growing three times faster in the US than Non-STEAM jobs.

STEAM jobs are often in the most innovative fields and progressive companies, leading to exciting and challenging work. Globally, 75% of the fastest-growing occupations require STEAM skills.

ISR STEAM Experiential Learning service, aligned to the NEP-2020 provided to schools by ISR, is outcome-based and imparted to students using futuristic technologies. Students becoming future-proof and versatile is of paramount importance. However, it goes far beyond helping students to become lifelong learners and problem solvers through a combination of skills without ignoring to be good human beings and constructive law-abiding citizens of the world.

Exponential technological development is inevitable, and a drastic change in how we work and the type of jobs we do in the near future is what awaits us. None of us can do this singularly. So, it is paramount that all stakeholders work together and help one and all be future-ready,” says Dr Panicker, who has been a part of numerous major educational projects in various countries. With his rich experience of over two decades, having worked and interacted with various thought leaders and educationists from across the globe, Dr Panicker concludes that the only way to be prepared for the future of work is to embrace the idea of helping all learners to be future-ready mindful problem-solvers.

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Hall of Fame

Dr George Panicker is featured as

  • ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2022,’ in Business Outreach Magazine

Dr George Panicker & Capt. Shaji Sebastian are featured as

  • ‘Most Dynamic Personalities 2022,’ in Fortune India Magazine

ISR is awarded as

  • ‘The Best Company to Work for 2022.’

  • ‘Brand of The Year 2022.’

  • ‘Most Innovative Business 2022 MSME India Business Award.’

  • ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Award 2022.’

  • ‘Best S.T.E.A.M Education Company 2022.’

  • ‘Best Education Start-up of the Year 2021.’