Transforming Learning, Transforming Lives
July 2014

Transforming Learning, Transforming Lives

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Transforming-Learning

The concept of smart class education has come as a boon for students of the 21st century. In this time and age of smart kids, computers and the Internet, the right use of technology in education is a gift for them. Roselin Kiro of Elets News Network tracks the dynamics of the emerging smart class industry and its growing acceptability in the Indian education system

The days of rote learning and chalk and talk are long gone. One can’t ignore the fact that children today are exposed to gadgets at a very early age and are prone to the latest in technology. Hence, it only makes sense to teach them in the way they want to learn.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has transformed the education sector in every sense, with e-learning emerging as the latest buzz. The use of ICT in schools and colleges has not only become vital to learning, it is also crucial in bridging the gap between students and their access to qual- ity education. It is in recognition of this factor that an increasing number of schools and colleges are now incorporating the latest tools in technology to enhance the quality of education being imparted.
The introduction of the concept of smart classes – or digi- tised classrooms – in several schools across India has revolution- ised the teaching and learning process. By adopting interactive and eye-catching modules, smart classrooms today symbolise breaking the tradition of text book teaching and making a shift to a concept that draws students towards better learning.
Smart class has also simplified the teaching process for teachers who can easily explain and demonstrate many abstract concepts making it more comprehensive for students. So, the use of technological tools in education not only has the potential to make learning more rewarding, it can also empower teachers with technology inside the classroom which helps them teach more effectively, thus enriching the quality of education as a whole. “The conventional blackboard has made way for digital equipments, making the learning process interesting and vibrant. This has partly put an end to mugging up of lessons and jotting notes,” observes Manu Nanda, Marketing Director, Wacom India Pvt Ltd. “The new smart class is a blessing for the institutions as it has created a simple yet a distinctive way of teaching,” he adds.

A sunshine sector in India?

Post 2000, a large number of companies established themselves as technology solution providers in the education sector in India. This was the period when new schools, especially International Baccalaureate schools, were being set up in the country. The primary reasons for this growth can be attributed to the spread of the Internet and opening up of the Indian market to foreign players, further propelled by the IT revolution and boom in the Indian economy.

The scheme, Information andCommunication Technology in schools,was launched in 2004 to develop ICTskills and promote an ICT-aided learning process

Stumbling Blocks

  • Misconception that technology is substituting teachers in classroom.
  • Teachers do not use ICT effectively
  • High cost preventing schools to adopt this technology.
  • Poor internet connectivity, poor infrastructure, low literacy rate in India.
  • Lack of research and development in the sector.
  • No parity in prices of e-learning solutions in Indian and global mart.
  • Some technical fault might arise during a class lecture creating disturbance in the classroom.
  • There is a need to develop digital content in regional languages
  • Limited exposure of teachers to technology in rural areas
  • Poor after-sales service by IT companies

 “Schools are realising that digitisation of teaching methods gives an experiential edge to the students,” says Nirav Khambhati, Chief Executive Officer, Tata ClassEdge. The prospects for smart class education seem brighter than ever before. “What the future holds for technology in education is far more than what we can imagine at this point in time,” adds Nirav.
There are several others who also believe that the influx of technology in education is already changing the learning and teaching scenario in India. The acceptance of the system has been remarkable and very encouraging, says Manu Nanda, Managing Director, Wacom India Pvt ltd. “The use of smart classes and modern technology eases the learning process of all students and promotes more participation from both teachers and students alike,” Nanda says explaining the reasons be- hind the success of smart classes.
The smart class concept is gaining popularity majorly in schools fostering individualised and peer learning and schools have started accepting technology intervention as a boon for their students and teachers. As compared to a few years before, one can now see a greater degree of acceptance among schools towards adopting such learning solutions. “The content forms the backbone of the overall solution which enables students to disseminate abstract and abstruse concepts with ease and also compliments teachers in delivering lectures,” says Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Senior Director, MBD Group. “The out- come of smartclass solutions are very positive as the learning experience of the students today has completely changed as compared to last decade,” she adds.

Government spending on ICT increased by 53.2 per cent to Rs 340 crore in the 2013-14 Union budget, expected to grow five times by 2020

The challenges

The concept of smart classes is innovative and encouraging. However, technology in education still has a long way to go in India. Today, a majority of schools implementing smart class solutions are from the private sector, which many in India cannot afford. The cost involved with adopting these technologies is high, which is preventing many schools from adopting these methods. So, with smart education comes the problem of high cost of education.
On the other hand, there are debates on how digital education can act as a major trigger to overcome issues like lack of textbooks and blackboards in rural schools. But this too has its own set of challenges. Unlike urban centres, where education is imparted through smart classes, rural areas lag behind.

Schools need to understand the place for technology and should be able to ensure that technology is used as an aid in teaching. But there is no question of any mechanical device for substituting a teacher in classroom” Chetan Mahajan President, HCL Learning

The government, on its part, has always appeared to have been interested in the use of ICT in education sector in India. It sees ICT as a great driving force in education that can link the gap between urban and rural education sector and help in tackling issues of access and quality. Both the Centre and state governments have taken some initiatives in building technology-enabled schools in villages. However, it is difficult to run such institutes as the format does not find acceptance in the villages. “Most schools have so far adopted smart classroom solutions in 3 to 5 classrooms and we see a huge potential to extend the solution to other classrooms within the existing schools. Plus there is a huge market potential in government schools, government-aided schools etc. that needs to be ad- dressed,” says Monica Malhotra of MBD.
The government, on its part, has always appeared to have been interested in the use of ICT in education sector in India. It sees ICT as a great driving force in education that can link the gap between urban and rural education sector and help in tackling issues of access and quality. Both the Centre and state governments have taken some initiatives in building technol- ogy-enabled schools in villages. However, it is difficult to run such institutes as the format does not find acceptance in the villages. “Most schools have so far adopted smart classroom solutions in 3 to 5 classrooms and we see a huge potential to extend the solution to other classrooms within the existing schools. Plus there is a huge market potential in government schools, government-aided schools etc. that needs to be ad- dressed,” says Monica Malhotra of MBD.

Looking ahead

ICT in education can enable students to be true natives of the global village. There is a need for every school to use the emerging technology of smart class education for the benefit of both teachers and students. The industry of digitised education is gradually budding with many stakeholders venturing into it and increasing their stake in the market. However, more research and development is required in the sector.
The growth of smart classes could be jet speeding in the years to come, if one trusts the optimism of Nanda from Wacom. If technology is changing the way of life and its for good, then why not go for it!

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