Smart Education
January 2015

Smart Education

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Smart-EducationDigital divide between India and Bharat doesn’t augur well for a country as diverse as ours. Growing cynicism has more takers than a wide spectrum of ideologies. The digital tools are new enablers. There will be a digital society, free from discrimination and inequality

Smartclass is rapidly transforming the way teachers teach and students learn in the schools with innovative and meaningful use of technology. Powered by the world’s largest repository of digital content mapped to Indian school curriculum, smartclass brings in technology right next to the blackboard for teachers in the classrooms.

The advent of Information and Communication Technology has had a profound and commanding global influence on the matrix of socio-economic and educational activities the world over in a new era. Industrial and developed countries are wellahead in formulating the policies and programmes to accelerate its development, diffusion and empowerment abilities. Developing countries like India, having sensed it, must follow at a breakneck velocity to establish and capitalize on the enabling capabilities of Information and Communication Technology in the field of education.

Technological tools are a necessity today and the students today have more than twenty technology tools to gain information from, so the teachers with the same knowledge base are not sufficient to quench their thirst for knowledge. There is requirement for much more and the need thus is for more technology intervention.

Total number of schools in India stands at 1.3 million, and only around 10 per cent of the private schools have tapped the potential of multimedia classroom teaching, whereas in government schools, it has barely made any inroads. The current market size for digitised school products in private schools is around US$500 million. This is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent to breach the US $2 billion mark by 2020.

The population of India in the 0-24 age bracket is twice the population of US and India still has a long road to travel to match global standards. According to the Indian Education Sector Outlook — the total number of schools in India stands at 1.3 million, and only around 10 per cent of the private schools have tapped the potential of multimedia classroom teaching, whereas in government schools, it has barely made any inroads. According to market research, the current market size for digitised school products in private schools is around US$500 million. This is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent to breach the US $2 billion mark by 2020. However, the market potential then might get as big as US $4 billion. Apart from this, the current market size for ICT in government schools is US $750 million. This is expected to grow five times by 2020 due to the current low level of penetration in government schools.

Indian Government is planning to set up virtual classrooms and online c o u r s e s for school education, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley i n f o r m e d during his budget speech for 2014-15. Jaitley has proposed an allocation of `100 crore for this initiative. BJP, in its 2014 election manifesto, had said that this initiative would make it convenient for working class people and housewives to improve their knowledge and qualifications.

Education has taken a quantum leap with the Internet, breaking classroom barriers and introducing students to a whole range of courses for upgrading themselves, which are also more affordable and accessible. In an IT savvy country like India, virtual classrooms assume a whole new value.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that are, so far free, have generated a new wave in an education environment highly dissatisfied with the state of college education. The move is set to get a further push with India and the US looking to partner in this domain. In 2012, online education enrollment witnessed a 21 per cent growth rate in India compared to a paltry 2 per cent growth rate in higher education. What goes without saying is that the easy access to technological services is the main reason behind this.

Indian Government is planning to set up virtual classrooms and online courses for school education, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said during his budget speech for 2014- 15. The Finance Minister proposed an allocation of `100 crore for this initiative

Another critical factor is that the requirement for trained engineers and technologists is far more than the number of qualified graduates that India’s technical institutions currently produce. It is imperative that the institutions like IITs, IISc, NITs and other leading universities in India disseminate teaching/learning content of high quality through all available media like virtual classrooms.

It may be mentioned that the previous government had also launched an open repository for school education called National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) in August last year. This repository included concept maps, videos, audio clips, talking books, multimedia, learning objects, photographs, diagrams, charts, articles, Wikipages and textbooks for all grades in multiple languages. Students could search or browse through concepts from various subjects from elementary and secondary level education. They could also comment on them and contribute to the repository.

A good example of extending training with virtual classrooms can be found at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where audio-visual facilities were set up in 400 civic-run schools across the city at a cost of `27 crore last year. A brain child of Uddhav Thackeray, the initiative’s aim was to teach students in a fun-filled manner, which, in turn, would put a check on poor attendance.

India needs to take the virtual classrooms to each and every sphere of education to take India to the next level as far as learning, knowledge and skills are concerned.

This makes India a very promising market for introducing newer technology in classrooms. A recent trend is that schools in tier two and tier three cities are increasingly adopting the latest technology. Moreover, state governments are also giving a boost to the adoption of technology in schools.

There has been a significant improvement in student enrolment and attendance, as well as a reduction of student dropouts due to ICT interventions. Yet another study conducted by the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar revealed that computer-aided education has improved the performance of children in subjects such as English, mathematics and science, which are taught through computers using multimedia- based educational content.

Furthermore, with technological innovations gaining ground in the arena of school education, there has also been a growth of educationfocused tablet computers in the market and the trend is only picking up.

Smart Classrooms

Smart class is a new method of teaching recently introduced. Today’s classrooms are in transition. Technology of all sorts is making its way into the classroom and offering new ways to engage learners. The transition is not smooth, nor is it following a single path. Classroom technology was once limited to presentation via VCRs, filmstrips, and slide projectors. Today we find more interactive technology that uses LCD projectors, interactive whiteboards, notebook and desktop computers, and tablets such as the iPad.

The global market for digital English language learning products and services reached $1.31 billion in 2011. The worldwide five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 14.5 percent and revenues will reach $2.58 billion by 2016

The students are taught through digital instruction materials, 3D animated modules and videos. All the renowned schools are setting a benchmark for using this concept. Now the students are thrilled at this concept of innovative and interactive learning process. The concept of digitized classroom has not only redefined the education but it also gave the students better insight. Their imagination is fired.

The students learn difficult and abstract curriculum concepts, watching highly engaging visuals and animations. This makes learning an enjoyable experience for students while improving their overall academic performance in school. Therefore it is clear that a smart classroom is a classroom that has an instructor station, equipped with computer and audio-visual equipment.

Smartclass also enables teachers to instantly assess and evaluate the learning achieved by their students in class with an innovative assessment technology – smart assessment system – designed by a well known company. Smartclass is powered by a vast repository of digital instruction materials exactly mapped to meet the specific objectives laid out by different state learning standards. This repository is continuously populated through the ongoing development at a well known company’s digital products and solutions group.

The content repository consists of thousands of highly animated, lesson specific, 3D and 2D multimedia modules. These modules are built with an Instructor-led design that allows the teacher to effectively transact the lesson in a typical classroom of diverse set of learners.

The modules are embedded in a template that allows the teachers to teach a chosen lesson in class, frame by frame, with engaging and instructionally sound animated set of visuals while retaining complete control on the pace of delivery. The curriculum reach unfolds from kindergarten to grade twelve covering subjects like Mathematics, Science, English, EVS, Social Studies, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Economics and Business Studies.

The computers have revolutionised the education. We hear about smart classes every day. We all know that if a subject is understood better by a visual method, it is more beneficial. So the demand of using smart classes is being forcefully raised. ‘Smart Classes’, are providing education better through presentations and videos. A student can learn and retain a lesson better through visualization. All the students may not understand the teaching methodology of a teacher, but can understand by smart classes. This can be seen in case of movies, i.e students remember movies better than the lessons taught in classroom. This type of teaching creates an attention called as interest in them. So e-learning is much better.

But this should not be applied to all the topics in every subject, because imagination, visualization and application capability of a student regarding the subject may be reduced.

So, smart classes are better only up to certain extent. Firstly, in smart class mode the curriculum is converted into animated visuals, which not only becomes an enjoyable experience for students but they can also relate to and remember facts easily. For them, while learning in the classroom becomes a thrilling and exciting experience, at the end, they find abstract and difficult concepts easy to comprehend thereby enhancing their academic performance. Such teaching helps to maintain the student’s interest and focus by engaging them fully for the entire learning experience.

Secondly, from the teacher’s point of view, with the arrival of this digital initiative which is so practical to modern time and friendly to use, the teachers can instantly evaluate/assess the learning achieved by their students in his/her class. If a concept taught is not understood then teacher can repeat with greater clarity and emphasis. He/ she can identify the areas of student’s strength as well as weaknesses. These ultimately help the students for better understanding. Smart classrooms are very much beneficial to teachinglearning process in a school. We make use of an appeal to audio-visual senses of students in using smart boards. These smart boards are like a computer screen, handled by a teacher and sometimes by students.

Some of the advantages for Smart board used inside a classroom are:

Appeal to audio-visual senses

By using smart boards in a classroom, we are appealing to both the audio sense and visual senses of students. Learning in such a way is very effective as the information is strongly embedded in a kids’ mind.

No waste of time

In traditional classroom, much time was wasted in drawing diagrams on the black/white boards, whereas in smartboards, the diagrams are engrained deep in memory. Time is used better for the active learning part.

Virtual field trips

The students are taken virtually to field trips. When a teacher is covering a lesson on desert animals, using smartboard, we could play on screen a tour of desert like Sahara or Kalahari for the students to learn this by heart.

Smart board teaching is not ‘seeonly’. We could use special markers to underline or mark an important location while teaching. We can even write on it to make the concept clear.

Inbuilt library

Smart board has an inbuilt library in it, which enables a teacher to have an instant look at it in case of requirement. He/she may not have to scan a real library for this.

Active learning

Smart boards lead to active learning process where both the teacher and the students are involved. This leads to strong reinforcement of information in students. Smart boards have many advantages and every class room should have it just because of easy learning process. Only a strong motivation is the basic of any learning process and can be carried out in any situation. Thus, it can be said in the end that smart board is such a learning process  where active participation of both the teacher and the students is needed. This increases the interaction between teacher and students during a lesson and the students do not hesitate to ask any question if they have any doubt. It reduces the effort of the lecturer as its most parts are done in the presentation. It is very difficult for the tutorials to continue in a day without break. So this multimedia class is a boon for the students as well as the teachers.

Several companies have entered into partnerships and created world-class digital resources, 3D videos and perhaps the world’s best interactive virtual lab software to its repository of content for teachers. The modules are embedded in a template allowing the teachers to teach a chosen lesson in class, frame by frame

Digital Labs

The digital labs have come as a blessing for many. Companies in this space realize this well and have adopted innovative techniques to make this solution available to the masses through institutions and maximum use of ICT.

Though in its nascent, stage, digital labs have the potential to benefit the millions who have been unable to get a hold over this language and subsequently fail to get jobs. With the advent of ICT being integrated with education and the pace with which it is catching up, things could soon change. The demand for digital solutions is huge. There is hardly any family in rural and urban India that is not obsessed with the idea of English medium education and subsequently digital labs. Moreover, it can also bring about a much-needed transformation in the domain of language learning and personality development that is crucial to the success of India’s aspirational youth and the country at large.

The global digital divide is usually measured in terms of differences between rich and poor countries in the extent to which they use ICTs in general and the Internet in particular. Such a view of the problem, however, ignores the fact that there are all kinds of ways in which poor, illiterate persons in developing countries benefit from the Internet without any use of computers and Internet connectivity. Most of these benefits occur as a result of intermediaries who, in one way or another, transfer relevant parts of the knowledge available from the technology to recipients in a form that is relevant to their specific needs. Using India as an illustration of this argument, we find that usage understates actual beneficiaries by at least 30 percent. On the basis of this finding, we suggest that a reconstrued notion of the digital divide be based on usage as well as other more indirect forms of benefit from the Internet in developing countries. The use of technology in education was an uncharted territory for many till early 2000 but today it is well established industry with significant number of players eyeing for the pie in the market. In fact, at a time when other sectors are struggling to thrive, this sector is witnessing an exponential growth.

The increased digital deficit between Internet usage and welfare derived indirectly from that technology is the main subject of debates in the developing countries

To this end, much more needs to be known about these other forms of benefit in a large sample of countries in addition to India. With usually minor methodological differences, these studies invariably conclude that the usage of ICTs in developing countries does indeed lag far behind what occurs in the industrialized world. This is problematic, so the argument usually runs, in as much that the usage gap reflects differences in the degree to which countries are able to benefit from the new technologies in question. In what follows, however, we seek to criticize the inevitability of this assumed link between usage and welfare and in so doing, hope to initiate a reconceptualization of the notion of a global digital divide. Ambient Insight Premium Report says that the global market for digital English language learning products and services reached $1.31 billion in 2011. The worldwide five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 14.5 percent and revenues will reach $2.58 billion by 2016. The situation is equally bright in India. Smart class is now an old story, labs are the latest phenomenon.

The products which are closer to the curriculum are very much in demand as compared to the products which are just value addition. Moreover the report by a recent technology market research suggests that about 5 percent of the $ 40 billion IT market in India, including hardware, software and IT services, was in the education sector. The market is expected to grow at nearly 12 percent through 2017. But this growth in the sector has to be supported by good infrastructure in terms of good labs in the schools and high-quality internet connectivity. The fundamental infrastructure required is just computers, internet and awareness about IT tools. Boom of internet in the country has led to a boom in this sector. The official rate of growth is around 8-10 percent but this is a very conservative scenario. The industry has immense scope and on ground, the rate of growth is much higher. But the growth depends on overall development of infrastructure and content. The IT solutions required in schools and colleges are very different.

There is no one “right answer” as to which technology will best engage students and improve outcomes. Teachers have a vision of what an engaged classroom looks like, and they strive to create that in their own classroom. Practices that make that vision more likely are more readily adopted, while those that do not are resisted. However, seeing our students engaged or feeling good about what we are doing may not be enough.

Some teachers may assume that more interaction is better than less, that collaboration is better than independent study, and that tackling problems and projects through discovery and inquiry improves classroom practice and produces more authentic learning. Technology often purchases such beliefs.

The increased digital deficit between Internet usage and welfare derived indirectly from that technology is the main subject of debates in the developing countries. It is not surprising that numerous attempts have been made to quantify arguably the most pronounced than anywhere else in the Third World.

Central to explanation of this discrepancy, is the idea that among the poorer, rural segments of the Indian population, usage is only rarely the way in which the benefits of the Internet are actually derived. In past few years, India has seen a rise in number of companies providing technological solutions to schools and colleges. These companies were nowhere on the block till 1990s, but as soon as the market opened for foreign players and internet started spreading in India, a lot of players plunged into the sector eyeing the first-mover advantage. The growth in the sector was propelled by the IT revolution in the country and boom in the Indian economy.

A research suggests that about 5 percent of the $ 40 billion IT market in India, including hardware, software and IT services, is in the education sector. The market is expected to grow at nearly 12 percent through 2017

By describing a variety of cases that illustrate this contention and by estimating the numbers of beneficiaries involved in each case, we are ultimately able to deduce the size of the discrepancy between the number of Internet users and the group of persons that derive benefits in ways other than usage of the technology itself. Let us first, however, use one well-known measure of the global digital divide, to gain some sense of where India stands in the ranking of both rich and poor countries, according, among other variables, to Internet usage. A lot of companies established themselves as technology solution providers in education sector in India post 2000 when new schools, especially IB schools, were being set up in the country and internet penetration started increasing. There were only a few players then and schools were apprehensive of adopting new methods of teaching-learning. It was in mid- 2000s that the demand for digital lab started rising in the market as awareness increased among schools and parents. But the boom in the industry has not yet come.

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