Hardik Shah

Digital Learning Education beyond boundaries

Our guest columnist, the director of Mumbai-based E-Class Education Systems Ltd, dwells on how technology-enabled learning impacts the education sector by transcending boundaries

BY: Hardik Shah

The role of technology has been pervasive; therefore, its impact on something as prevalent as the education sector cannot be, and should not be, underestimated. There are many benefits of technology-enabled education and the biggest of all, how [IT] cuts its way through to reach people in India and even our nation’s remote corners, is something to watch out for.

The strong connection between the smartphone-led internet growth and the entrepreneurship sprout in India is slowly reshaping the education segment in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Technology has a tremendous capacity and ability to change the very base and means of education. Yet ‘how much’ or the total impact of technology on education is something which needs to be accurately gauged.
Still, this is time to look at the BIG positives first.

With increased Internet penetration amid a surge in smartphone ownership, the online education industry in India is poised to hit $1.96 billion by 2021, a joint report by Google and KPMG titled ‘Online Education in India: 2021’ published in May 2017 says.
Few online ventures have expressed interest in amalgamating the immense potential of education and technology. And not without a reason, for there exists a great scope of improvement in the small cities of India. A mini-metro or a small city is keen to adapt to the technology way of life and start-ups are pouncing on the opportunity to help them learn and contribute to the robust growth of our economy.

Right from supplementing education at the school and college level, with a greater conceptualisation of the school curriculum like specific chapters or pull-outs of different subjects by creating video tutorials, to making a futuristic investment in digital classrooms such as starting private schools in the rural areas and pass on the computing knowledge, many start-ups in India are working towards giving digital education a compact shape and a more structured outlook.

Together, they are investing in building digital content to complement the existing system of education at different levels.

There are many organisations helping students prepare more effectively for competitive entrance tests like JEE, NEET, Cat, IAS and GMAT as well.

INTERESTING TRENDS
Further development is happening in education-based technology, keeping in mind the Indian economic scenario and the reasons to influence a change in the present system of education.

For example, the need to bridge the knowledge-skill gap to make the Indian workforce ready for corporate scenario 2.0 is being routed through digital learning.

Such courses like the online certified courses in digital marketing are to equip the modern workforce with the smart knowledge and operating training, in the shortest possible time.

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If you think people in tier 2 and tier 3 cities don’t need digital marketing education then think again. Vernacularisation of digital content has been happening for some time now. It perfectly complements the need of working professionals to upgrade the allied knowledge they need by benefiting qualitatively and statistically.
Another notable trend is the development of technology itself; we are emphasising on the development of the back-end tech tools which aid the front channel tech growth and hence, bestows further benefits to its users.
Developing new technologies like the installation of big data and artificial intelligence by digital learning companies or online education vendors is helping them focus better on their target audience. In other words, these set of companies are able to design customised content in a more systematic manner.

MAKING IT AFFORDABLE
An extension of the biggest benefit of digital education in tier 2 and tier 3 cities is accessibility, and it is applicable in the context of quality and quantity.

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By quality we mean providing access to enough study material, textbooks, new formats of studying like video tutorials and much more, giving a new perspective of education to the students.
In addition to this form of accessibility, education-enabled technology also makes education

Developing new technologies like the installation of big data and artificial intelligence by digital learning companies or online education vendors is helping them focus better on their target audience. In other words, these set of companies are able to design customised content in a more systematic manner.

more affordable. You, as a student, no longer need to invest in expensive books and have a choice to buy material which exactly meets your requirement.

Depending upon the time you need to invest, you can download a chapter or buy a relevant book at discounted prices online

According to the same report of Google and KPMG, there has been a two-fold increase in online searches for education and a three-fold growth in searches from a mobile device over the last two years.

Even though the present scenario of internet and smartphone penetration broadens the opportunity window for digital learning and education,
there is still more to be done at the ground level; the biggest impediment being the quality of internet in rural areas.

Aside from supplementing the existing systems of education, the bigger change, which is making an on-ground impact of getting more children in the [quality education] framework, is an ideal road map to deliver the change with time.

However, pressing concerns like the growth of education sector as a whole at present; poor infrastructure facilities like electricity; lack of technology facilities similar to those available in the urban areas or even the awareness of it, are some serious roadblocks.
A bigger concern is the lack of skills of teachers to use digital classrooms.The benefits of education-based technology are immense. It is only after students and teachers will embrace it willingly, and begin the process of increase in digital enrollment, adding more awareness that, the real change will happen.