Opinion

How digitisation and technology are shaping education in India

Siddhartha Gupta | Updated on March 17, 2021

E-learning will shape the way for advance learning methods in edtech

With the internet penetration rate estimated to reach above 55 per cent by the end of 2025 in India, digitisation of education remains one of the topmost priorities of our government. Taking the cue, many e-learning portals have appeared and are performing well as an increasing number of learners enrol themselves for online courses — the new normal post the pandemic.

Starting 2020, Indian universities and colleges, which were earlier not permitted to offer more than 20 per cent of a degree online, are now lifting the restrictions on online learning to widen access to higher education and raise the profile of Indian institutions globally. Many edtech companies have also surfaced and are offering learning management resources, including blended learning, 3D and DIY kits and AI-based experiential and interactive learning, to provide an unrivalled experience.

Emphasis on digitisation

Realising that rapid development depends on widespread education, the government rolled out a new National Education Policy (NEP) that puts emphasis on digitisation besides the use of technology in education. It also focuses on edtech for furthering education, particularly in the rural areas. This was mainly done to take quality education to all parts of the country, especially the Tier-2 and 3 cities and villages. The government learnt that technology has the power to reach small towns and villages and provide access to quality teachers. This was a distant dream but massive tech disruptions across the country have successfully executed the mammoth task that was earlier unimaginable.

Budget 2021-22 allocated ₹93,224.31 crore to the Ministry of Education. It was an increase of over ₹8,100 crore from the revised estimates for the current fiscal and the Department of Higher Education was allocated ₹38,350.65 crore.

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Bridging the digital divide

The shift to online education also brings forward the conversations around digital divide and digital readiness of every stakeholder and institution. School and higher education institutions like colleges and universities are two different markets with their own set of challenges and digital preparedness.

Education rising on the digital learning curve

Digital divide in schools is significantly higher than in higher education institutions. The Budget too talks about bridging the digital divide in government and private schools, which is another area that needs improvement. Work is needed to make education accessible through digital means for all school students, irrespective of their location, financial background, and internet and bandwidth connectivity. Creating the right infrastructure, hiring good teachers and building a suitable curriculum for every school is the way forward. We also need to measure school students’ readiness for adoption of online examination processes by way of mock test sessions and its analytics.

Industry-ready students

The key priorities for higher educational institutions are to make the students industry-ready by assessing their competencies and aligning them to what is needed by the industry. This can be achieved by bringing research and innovation into the core of education and making it affordable for everyone across the nation. It is therefore time to bid adieu to the traditional and monotonous rote-learning methods, which stress on memorisation rather than proper understanding of the subject. Educational institutions and bodies like AIMA, IIMs, ISB, Ashoka University, Amity University, and Christ University have already taken their examination process online.

With these initiatives, education is likely to witness a sea change in the forthcoming years as the Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to rapidly evolve with the most sophisticated educational technologies and raring to transform the digital landscape of the nation. And with social distancing still in place amidst the pandemic, an increasing number of educational institutions continue to move fully online to facilitate students. This indicates that e-learning is the future and will shape the way for advance learning methods in edtech.

Latest tools, methodologies

Bidding adieu to the traditional teaching methods and issues such as shortage of teachers, inadequate student-teacher ratio, and insufficient teaching resources, digitisation in education has made way for the latest teaching tools and methodologies that are now reaching students in the remotest corners of the country. And with inclusive education being one of the goals of the government, the remote teaching model is likely to serve well.

The technology is also helping teachers connect with several students spread across several locations simultaneously. The interactive digital media also is a great solution to the shortage of teachers in the country. To facilitate the same, it plans to use technology to upgrade the skills of teachers through the online portal DIKSHA. It is a digital platform for teachers across the nation that allows them to stay equipped with advanced digital technology while giving their lifestyle a digital twist.

Online exams too

In line with the education trends, examinations too are being conducted online. Digital platforms support customised assessments, online proctoring and certification apart from enabling secure, scalable and credible remote exams. These web-based computerised exams have a magnitude of benefits as they reduce costs, are time-saving, have a wider reach and are extremely secure. This is because the process minimises human, operational, infrastructure and logistical costs apart from saving the time consumed in planning, coordination and result generation. The platform can support a much larger candidate pool with no geographical constraint while ensuring auto invigilation of each candidate through strict prevention of content leaks and impersonation.

In the days to come, digital education will further witness significant changes in the way universities and colleges provide education. This accelerated shift towards adoption of digital means in both access to education as well as its assessment isn’t a temporary trend but will have long-term consequences that will shape the new normal future. We will soon experience a myriad of possibilities emerging out of digital education to empower the youth of India.

The author is Chief Executive Officer at Mercer | Mettl

Published on March 17, 2021

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