Technology is changing the face of education; the very fabric of traditional learning has now extended into new and more evolved learning methodologies. The year 2017 witnessed the expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Educational technology (EdTech) made a major foray into India through executive and higher education. The launch of Byju’s app animated basic concepts in mathematics, wooing students and parents alike. Indians have made several apps that impart vocational courses like programming and coding online. Online certification of a host of courses has seen many professionals sign up to upgrade their skills and knowledge. According to a recent report by Google and KPMG, online education in India will grow by a factor of eight over the next five years. This will have a significant impact on the EdTech market, which has the potential to touch $1.96 billion by 2021.
While technology is changing paradigms in education, it is also nurturing the guru-shishya bond offline. Today, with more social media channels and easy access to the internet, a teacher-student relationship goes beyond the four walls of the classroom. Students can discuss and submit projects online. And more youth and children in small towns will be connected to teachers online; knowledge will reach the unreachable. However, the clutter of information on the internet makes the role of the teacher more comprehensive. The teacher here becomes more of a mentor who guides the student in the right direction in the World Wide Web. The virtual touch certainly facilitates knowledge exchange in real time.
Let’s take another aspect of student interaction with teaching faculty on campus. Multimedia is influencing teacher-student interaction in the classroom, disrupting the traditional classroom learning model. Teachers are more aware of tech-based tools they can use to optimise student participation in class. The teacher addressing the students is integrated with media content in the form of statistics and visual representation of chapters. Through multimedia formats, technology is demystifying complex concepts. Pedagogical tools are being digitised.
Today, technology has opened avenues to global learning from your laptop screen at home. Faculty who are experts in specific subjects can impart knowledge to a group of students overseas. More collaboration between national and international universities will benefit students by inviting faculty experts overseas.
Several challenges remain. Teachers must begin integrating technology to explain concepts. Info graphs must replace voluminous notes. Presentations need to be more animated, while student projects must be paperless and more tech driven through cloud computing and gamification. To tackle such challenges, business schools require more autonomy from regulators so they can integrate technology into their curriculum and pedagogy. Government support will allow reforms to move at a faster pace. A clear vision from education regulators will add impetus to the already self-aware higher educational institutes. Distance education should be customised to provide content offline for times when internet speed is low. The right to access education should be a key part of the agenda for stakeholders in education.
On a concluding note, the blackboard, which is a teacher’s canvas to draw important aspects of the lesson, is reshaping its form and impact. Jack Ma, a former teacher and a self-made entrepreneur, summarised well the key points regarding education in the age of machine learning at the World Economic Forum 2018, saying, “Teachers must stop teaching knowledge. We have to teach something unique so that the machine can never catch up with us. These are soft skills, values, believing, independent thinking, team work and care for others.”
(The writer is group director, L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research [WeSchool])