Integration of Education and Technology in India: An overview
For someone from the 80s, day-to-day life today is no less than a sci-fi movie. Within a short period of time, technology has managed to integrate itself into almost every aspect of human civilization, from leading the governance of countries to as small as collecting data for vaccination, and keeping us healthy and safe. Despite the early predictions and limitations, technology has managed to find its place in the hands of a majority of people today. It is cheap, accessible, and can be used by anyone without any technical know-how, even by children who just started to speak! This scalability allows it to transition easily for any vertical, and has proved to be a huge value add for Education.
The internet penetration rate in India is estimated to cross 55% by the year 2025 and the government is preparing for the digitization of various sectors including education, which started with the introduction of the new education policy in 2020, It has been widely appreciated both in India and overseas. The NEP has transformed the landscape of education in India. It has made an impact on the enormous education sector of India which is predicted to cross US$ 35.03 billion by 2025. Under this, the government announced plans to set up an autonomous body- NETF (National Educational Technology Forum) which will oversee the development of content and infrastructure, and provide a platform for educational institutes and other stakeholders to share best practices that optimize the use of technology. This was created with a vision to overcome the digital divide in the country and ensure a wider reach.
It is believed that one of the major influences on NEP has been the COVID-19 pandemic. All educational institutions were shut down due to the virus and later when they were reopened for selective batches, they had to be shut down again due to a rise in the number of infections. Exams had to be canceled and students suffered the most. We saw a lot of educational institutes switching to online teaching techniques, classes were conducted over applications like zoom and google meet, and evaluation was done online. These makeshift solutions were good but had their own drawbacks and highlighted the need for a better solution. We saw the failure of our traditional education system on which we heavily relied on and highlighted the need for reforms to the education system.
While online learning has its own drawbacks, its merits outweigh. It benefits students and teachers at the same time, other than the subjects that require hands-on knowledge, theoretical subjects can be completely taught online, teachers can record digital content or conduct a live class and publish it for all students which can save them a lot of time while students can access these contents on-demand from anywhere any time and connect with the teacher for clarifications of doubts.
Other than IGNOU in India, all other universities were limited to geographical limitations but with the integration of technology, knowledge will know no boundaries. The world has already seen the emergence of Tech-Integrated solutions like ‘Virtual Universities’ that require no physical infrastructure and rely completely on remote staff while everything is organized online. Even language isn't a problem when it comes to e-learning as users could switch between languages like Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi e.t.c
just like you would change the language of a film you're watching over Netflix! Given the above factors, e-learning can reduce the cost dramatically and make education very accessible as all information could be made available on any digital device with internet access. Renowned international Universities like Griffith, Murdoch, and BUL (Brunel University London) have shown a great way where students can get the best of both worlds by introducing hybrid learning programs heavily relying upon technology. Their programs help students from overseas get access to quality education while reducing costs and other expenses that incur when planning to study abroad. This was a huge step up for traditional undergraduate courses and graduate courses that relied heavily on the usual class/teacher interactions. The hybrid learning model soon allowed Universities across the globe to transcend boundaries and make their courses available to the students.
While it is in its early stages, Artificial Intelligence has played a major role in improving the online learning experience for students as it can help provide personalized education by analyzing each student for their interests and their strengths and weaknesses to provide suggestions and educational content. As the saying goes “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ” AI technology will help in solving one of the oldest problems in our education system, and help students find out what they are good at and excel in it.
The Ministry of Education, India, has already conducted a series of meetings with the state education boards to integrate with NETF advisory. It is clear from this move that the government wants to introduce technology-led learning starting from the school level. With the current infrastructure, it is clear that much like online classes, this will be imparted using third-party private companies and precisely where the need for EdTech plugins will rise. While we are still distant from a perfect integration of education and technology in India but with proper execution, the future seems very promising. Covid 19 helped us realize the benefits of integration of tech and education and what it can bring to the table.