Technology v/s Education in India – A possible disruption or a hopeless innovation?
The hallmark of the millennium is the renaissance in technology. Every area of life, every sector of society has been disrupted and overturned by the evolution of the tech-trinity: Electronics, Computer, and the Digital. This impingement of technology has uprooted conventional mind-frames and broadened businesses. The world seems to have stretched its boundaries out and into incredible horizons that one never imagined to exist.
Yet, with all its glory, if there is an Achilles’ heel to the new age revolution, it would be education. Not that the territory has been untouched; but, despite the expansion of learning beyond the four walls and onto online platforms, in spite of visual platforms taking over traditional classrooms, technological evolution seems stagnant when it comes to the education sector, seemingly bogged down by notions that remain inadaptive to change.
Educational Technology – A tough nut to crack?
Sadly, the Indian educational system remains one of the worst rankings in the global dais despite technological upsurge. The core framework is still entangled in traditional roots where the curriculum is exam-oriented.
Though the advent of education technology start-ups or EdTechs has brought in a new tide of online classes, they too follow the classroom approach. The difference is limited to the easily accessible learning sessions and mock tests online compared to book-based learning and government recognised exams.
Also there is the disadvantage of the wide gap in the students’ social and economical background where a considerable bulk of the student community in India is either not aware of the online learning facilities or unable to access them due to financial restrictions.
Another hindrance to online education to gain mass appeal is the demand for conventional educational qualification in the job scenario. The employment sector still looks for degrees or certifications recognised by authorised educational boards in the country. As most online educational programs or EdTechs are not certified by these boards they still struggle in creating a parallel impact in the education industry as their traditional counterparts.
Hence, however innovative the new age learning evolves or intends to revolutionise the educational setting in India it soon slides into the pre-set norms to gain approval and appease both the learners and the employers.
EdTech: Bringing in a Radical Change
However, the digital evolution pillared by the onset of smartphone technology is redefining the educational platforms in India. Online training, edutainment, online test preparation, gamification etc are slowly but steadily trying to blend in and create a difference. And that has fertilised the soil for the uprise of a new tech sector – the EdTechs.
The flexible nature of online education has its appeal among the young learners – a community of 18-40 yrs comprising young students, graduates as well as professionals. The number of start-ups wading into these new waters of the education market has rapidly increased. The investment of venture capital in the sector has soared high by 70% since 2017.
At present over 3,500 start-ups in the country have invested in the education market gaining funding of over $700 Mn in 2018 alone, producing academic content for students. Compared to the traditional educational system, Ed Techs aim to groom the students specifically for required skill-sets for particular job-roles. They are more practical-oriented and career-focused than the text-book curriculum.
Most of the EdTech startups offer comprehensive job-guarantee courses that focus on ‘training and grooming’ of students, helping them with every aspect of theoretical, practical and social upgradation. Some even help in searching out suitable coaching centres and institutions for the students.
A Fusion of the Traditional & the Technological
However, EdTechs are still serving as an alternative learning system and have not yet fused with the mainstream educational process or stayed parallel to that.
Surveys reveal the fact that students haven’t yet openly accepted the possibilities of educational technology and stick to an educational system that is grade-based rather than skill-based.
This distrust regarding the alternate training or evaluation processes needs to be eliminated for technology to get the right foothold in Indian educational scenario. Only when our inherent learning method – of testing the knowledge, rather than the skill-sets – be transformed, a new learning culture that entirely rides aback technology can take roots. Learning must be more about problem-solving, creativity, innovative thinking, risk-taking and original thinking.
Hands-on learning and practical work experience need to gain momentum along with job placement courses rather than cramming up theory for better grades in the exams. Only when the society embraces this change and the fundamental misconception of India’s education system is eradicated, will the EdTechs see the desired growth and progress.
The Future of Education Technology in India
To implement such a radical change, the government needs to validate alternative learning in schools paving the way for technology to reform the existing standards of education.
Online education providers can reach out to the masses with their cost-effective ways and versatile learning structure. This is a huge lure-factor for the working professionals and job-seekers. Especially in the times of automation raising challenges of slashing manpower, they need to acquire new skills or upskill themselves to stay afloat in the job market.
The industry-relevant online career courses focussed on training with job placement that are affordable and practical-oriented can leverage hugely this need of the hour. With true insight and broadened vision, e-learning can support the conventional system of education with a convergence of both offline and online learning models.