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Emerging technologies to leverage in Indian education
Technology the only way to provide greater and more convenient educational opportunities to children
India will have the world's largest population of young people in the next decade. Whether we are able, as a nation, to provide high-quality education and support to our youth, is what will determine our future success. Enabling our country's students to realise their full potential will be key to India's continued ascent on the global stage in terms of economic growth.
However, our country's ability to provide all children with quality education was greatly challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic. It caused the disruption of the Indian education system and exacerbated the urban-rural education divide. Technology emerged as the only way to bridge this divide effectively and provide greater and more convenient educational opportunities to children from diverse backgrounds, thus proving to be a game changer in this sector too, just like others.
What's more, the advent of cutting-edge technologies in education has facilitated more effective collaboration between academia and industry towards ensuring skill development. Today, technology has created the potential to align institutional learning and skill training with real-world requirements, in line with NEP 2020's vision of placing emphasis on skilling, entrepreurship and livelihoods.
Now, as India strives towards United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) of achieving inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 20302, it is imperative, now more than ever, to reconfigure the country's entire education system. The emerging technologies that aided the bridging of urban-rural divide need to become an integral part of the Indian education system in order to support and foster post- pandemic learning.
What are the areas we can envisage technology's impact in the education sector?
Personalising learning experiences
New-age technologies can help teachers adapt to heterogenous learning levels in the classroom, by personalising content for individual students, as per different speeds and styles of learning.
Adaptive learning platforms, designed using machine learning, host activities as per students' needs, competencies and learning styles. The algorithm adapts continuously, to customize pedagogical delivery as per student needs and enables better learning outcomes.
Gamification is another such magic wand that can make studies more appealing to students. Game-like web applications make classroom activities more engaging, interactive and fun. The game-like format of challenges and rewards makes the learning experience exciting, also instilling a positive competitive spirit among students.
Enabling holistic learning and overall development of the student:
Technology opens up new vistas in holistic learning. Creative assessments that gauge emotional and social parameters reorient the education system towards holistic development of students. Simulations and games can help assess the ethical, collaborative and social capacities of students. Further, edtech- enabled practical assignments can facilitate hands-on vocational learning.
Thanks to smart devices equipped with AI, quality education becomes more accessible to more students, regardless of geographic location or time. AI-powered tools can track a student's progress in real-time.
Digitising learning experiences
Printed books have a drawback, in that they need to be revised and updated every few years, and always seem to be outdated. Using digital books can address this issue, by eliminating the tedious process of revision and reprinting and is also environment-friendly.
In cases where the information related to a particular concept or topic needs to be collated in a database, blockchain technology can be useful. This technology is also very useful in examination management, verification of student credentials and preserving lifelong learning records.
Technologies such as 3D printing and robotics enable students to practice and get hands-on experience in subjects such as chemistry, physics and biology, without the risk of physical harm. They help create real-world models and help students see, create and touch objects, as they would in real-life. This helps them learn more than theoretical aspects of the subjects. These technologies aided learning continuity through digital learning amid the lockdown.
Multi-sensory education experience
Interactive whiteboard supports visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. It aids in teaching abstract and complex concepts to the students in a more engaging and effective way. Edtech can enrich the classroom experience by consistently delivering high-quality interactive content that can supplement teachers' own knowledge and capture student attention.
Virtual reality allows students to feel immersed in the education experience and attend field trips from the safety and comfort of their homes or classroom. Physical education training can be conducted online through virtual play sessions and mock drills. This helps them grasp abstract concepts and gain hands-on experience in low-risk virtual settings. Augmented Reality can be used to overlay interactive digital elements like text, image, video clips and animation to bring subjects such human anatomy and geography to life. Further, 5G Wi-Fi technology has enabled faster downloads and offline access to lessons whenever needed.
The future is here and it is a gift that will open up new opportunities for learning for every student, regardless of location, time, learning style or ability. The collective efforts of the government, educational institutions and policymakers have begun to steer the Indian education system towards achieving better use of technologies. Though it is in its initial phase, this development is promising. Use of technology, especially for students in rural areas can further universalisation of education and foster India's development.
(The author is a Founder and Chairman at Ampersand Group)