In this fast-paced world, technology is impacting every sphere, and education is no exception. There have been major developments in the sphere of education technology and technological trends are reshaping the teaching and learning. Besides, some technologies have emerged in the recent times that will impact education over the course of the next few years. Aamir H Kaki of Elets News Network (ENN) shares insights on how technology is transforming the learning experience, emerging technological trends and innovative solutions in education, potential challenges of technology and much more
Educational institutions are now taking the burden to advance the culture of innovation, foster environments that accelerate learning and creativity and to create the conditions for innovations to happen. Technologies are becoming affirmatively accepted by the education sector to add value to learning experiences.
According to education experts, major developments in education technology and technological trends will help shape teaching and learning in the near future. A little bit of futuregazing suggests that emerging technologies that will impact education over the course of the next five years would be: cloud computing, mobile learning, elearning, learning analytics, MOOCs, virtual and remote laboratories, and tablet computing, etc.
Transforming Traditional Learning
In this ever-changing dynamics of technological transformations, nothing seems constant. The one guaranteed constant in educational technology is change, as also elsewhere, and the pace of that change is definitely accelerating. Technology trends in both higher education and K-12 classrooms continue to evolve and transform traditional learning environments.
The advent of technology over the decade has and would continue to play a key role in changing the face of education in India. As Ujjwal Singh, Vice President, Product – K12, Pearson India, puts it, “Education providers in the country are beginning to understand the significance of measurable progress in a student’s life as opposed to learning that is confined to the four walls of a classroom. Technology is one of the most important tools in learning that will help Indian education progressively reach its peak. However, growing availability of technologies and educational apps require teachers to be trained to make use of such technology integration.”
“Technology enables the dissemination of information beyond geographical barriers and gives students access to the same learning opportunities. This also makes technology one of the greatest equalisers, as it promotes inclusivity by providing education to all whenever and wherever. It is one of the key factors in extending learning beyond classroom hours,” he adds.
On the integration and adoption of technology in learning, Nirav Khambhati, CEO – Tata ClassEdge states, “Today, more and more schools seem to be adopting experiential learning as opposed to just textbook-centric teaching. By using a blend of traditional teaching methods, exploratory activities, projects and interactive technology, schools can bring in more engagement in classrooms. Some students do use laptops and tablets at home. But we are not sure if they use them creatively for educational purposes. What we need is a structured approach on how to integrate technology in the teaching-learning process.”
Distance and online learning using technology not only impart quality education to all despite the varying geographies, but also enable students to work at a pace and in a subject area that facilitates comfortable learning environment. In the Indian context, this model is extremely important as it is a great way of transforming the education space, since it puts students at the center of learning
The technology is surely redefining the future of education. Today’s society shows the ever-growing computer-centric lifestyle, which includes the rapid influx of computers in the modern classroom. As Rishi Khemka, Founder and CEO, MindBox, says, “The Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in education provide opportunities to students to mainly build their capacity on ICT skills and make them learn through computer-aided learning process.”
He further says, “MOOC is gaining a firm foothold in education around the world. More than two-thirds of respondents from academia say that their institutions offer online courses. Computing, Communications and Storage anywhere facility, and the ability to create interface with digital technology, data and the web anywhere, anytime on any device is the key to ACCESS to ALL.”
With the change in scenario in education, classrooms – be it in a school or college – are slowly transitioning to a more modern approach that uses technology to deliver education in a more impactful and effective manner. Manikandan R, Director – Mobility, Education & Healthcare, HP, points out, “The introduction of technology in the education system has not only aided the students but also the faculty, and as a result overall efficiency of the system has improved. With the introduction of technology, students have started taking more interest in the curriculum.”
“Use of technology in education is one of those methods that has helped improve the quality of education in India. The face of education is somehow shifted partly from books to ebooks. From books and study material to the method of teaching — everything is tending to go virtual with the help of latest technologies. Technology is not only changing the face of education, but also altering the way the education is provided, making it faster and easier to grab,” adds Manikandan.
Innovative Technological Trends
Creative and innovative technological educational solutions are becoming increasingly significant for the development of the 21st century knowledge society. They contribute to economic prosperity as well as to social and individual well-being and are essential factors for a more competitive and dynamic economy. Technology in education is seen as central in fostering creative and innovative skills.
The use of blended learning models in schools has been on the rise, especially in the recent past. Ujjwal Singh points out, “Blended learning models that combine technology with classroom instructions help teachers experiment with a variety of educational models. This technology allows students to network effectively, enables personalised learning and is an excellent platform to display their ability to innovate and collaborate.”
He states, “Distance and online learning using technology not only imparts quality education to all despite the varying geographical background, but also enable students to work at a pace and in a subject area that suits them in a comfortable learning environment. In the Indian context, this model is extremely important as it is a great way of transforming the education space, since it puts students at the center of learning.”
With technology pervading every sphere and field, education is no longer lagging in accepting the transformational change. As Nirav Khambhati, CEO – Tata ClassEdge puts it, “With technology moving into all aspects of our lives and children becoming more tech-savvy, the education system isn’t far behind in integrating technology in teaching-learning practices. Schools are realising that digitisation of teaching methods gives an experiential edge to the students. ICT in schools in India started with digital classrooms that comprise digital boards, projectors and multimedia animations.”
“Tata ClassEdge was one among the first to introduce cloud technology and usage analytics in this space. Soon, we are going to witness more innovations in the personalisation of learning, through adaptive logic and intelligent tutoring. But this is just the beginning. What the future holds for technology in education is far more than what we can all imagine at this point in time,” he adds.With technology pervading every sphere and field, education is no longer lagging in accepting the transformational change. As Nirav Khambhati, CEO – Tata ClassEdge puts it, “With technology moving into all aspects of our lives and children becoming more tech-savvy, the education system isn’t far behind in integrating technology in teaching-learning practices. Schools are realising that digitisation of teaching methods gives an experiential edge to the students. ICT in schools in India started with digital classrooms that comprise digital boards, projectors and multimedia animations.”
Advancements in technology is bringing societal changes and impacting education, growth and development of India. Rishi Khemka says, “We are entering a time of momentous societal shifts brought in by advancements in technology. These changes will impact the education, growth and development of our country. Inventions previously seen only in science fiction, such as artificial intelligence, connected devices and 3D printing, will enable us to connect and invent in ways we never have before. Modern tools of creativity like design lab (3D printer), creativity lab (STEAM), smart devices and digital cameras, online resources, like social media, blogs, virtual classrooms, video conference and podcasts, and latest infrastructure like ICT lab, wirefree internet, intranet, smart boards, interactive projectors collectively, all such advances will lead to profound changes in the way courses are taught and learned.”
Digitisation of the education industry will be the most disruptive trend the sector has witnessed after the invention of paper. Manikandan further says, “At HP, we believe that every student should have access to a high quality education, at any time and from anywhere, and the access should be combined with true learning, meaningful learning, social and economic outcomes result – for students, for schools and for communities.
Innovative Solutions – The Road to Future
Innovative solutions in the learning space is transforming the education sector and creating a road for the future. Organisations are bringing out solutions that are not only easing the learning, but also changing the overall experience of imparting and acquiring education.
Ujjwal Singh states, “We, at Pearson, have always had a learner-centric approach. In line with this, we introduced MyPedia, an innovative integrated learning solution that focuses on improving conceptual understanding of students. It is based on 5i learning process and intends to actively engage students in the learning process, help develop their critical thinking skills, stronger understanding of concepts and create meaningful learning experiences.”
He elaborates, “MyPedia allows students to learn in a more comprehensive manner, and reason abstractly and quantitatively by integrating learning across subjects. Its unique features help students understand different learning layers, where each layer comprises the skills and concepts that a student needs to learn in a particular grade. This really helps students to break away from compartmentalisation of subjects. It combines the best in curriculum and content, digital and technology, assessment framework and training.”
Organisations in learning space are introducing solutions to inspire learners as well as teachers. Nirav Khambhati informs about initiatives at Tata ClassEdge, “This year, we are introducing Tata ClassEdge Cosmos, an ecosystem of solutions developed over the last five years based on our core philosophy — INSPIRED SCHOOLING. We have Tata ClassEdge LX, our flagship classroom solution based on our proprietary multiple learning experiences framework to engage varied learners. We have introduced ‘Thinking About Values’, the values and life skills curriculum for students to start questioning what is right and wrong from an early age. Then we have PlanEdge for automated academic planning, and standardised assessment management through TestEdge. Our new app for parents, ClassEdge School Connect, enables easy communication, simplified transactions and enhanced parent involvement in the child’s education. ClassEdge After School is a tablet/ web based solution, which personalises learning at home. The ecosystem aims to create a complete solution for Indian schooling, enabling inspired teaching and learning.
Almost 40 percent of the skilled workforce is not employable as the acquired education and training are of substandard quality. With 93 percent of work available in the informal sector, a good number of even well-educated youth in India are either unemployed, underemployed, seeking employment, between jobs, or coping with insecure work arrangements
He further adds, “Tata ClassEdge Cosmos provides end-to-end support for academic needs and simplified and convenient school administration to schools. It enables teachers to create engaged and effective classrooms and saves their time spent on administrative and repetitive tasks. The student has an access to diverse experiences leading to enhanced understanding of concepts, personalised learning, while allowing for the development of a discerning mind through critical thinking. For the parent, Tata ClassEdge Cosmos allows for greater involvement in student’s education and increased connect with schools.”
Education technology is empowering the students and making them ready for the future. Informing about Mind- Box’s initiatives, Rishi Khemka, says, “As educators, we empower students to ideate, explore, lead, think and collaborate. MindBox is an initiative that aims to empower students with 21st century skills. We develop creativity and life skills of students by an output method of expression using Visual Communication as Language, Design Thinking and STEAM as a subject. The delivery happens using ‘technology as a tool’ inside the school’s campus through project/design-based learning methodology for Class I-XII students. MindBox provides kits, industry expert sessions, worksheet and software, along with qualified faculty to conduct these sessions and a four-way assessment system for schools and students.”
Opportunities blossom when everyone is empowered to control their own educational experience. The educational experience is much richer when the content is personalised to the needs of the student. Manikandan R says, “HP believes in the value of the Hybrid Learning model, combining the best of digital printing with electronic content, to optimise learning outcomes. Print continues to deliver intrinsic educational value that facilitates true learning with deep engagement, and high levels of comprehension and retention. Along with electronic channels for mobile consumption and student feedback and analytics, we can get the most out of technology, and being given the opportunity to do so not only makes things easier, it also makes them greater. At HP, we don’t just hand out gadgets; we provide the support and training necessary to turn a device into an instrument of change.”
Making Students Industry-ready
Though technological advancements are taking place, we live in a country wherein education is perceived as the primary means of climbing the social and economic ladder. Our education system is still largely centered on knowledge as a finished product and learning as memorising things that are enshrined in the textbooks. The present-day workplace, on the other hand, is evolving at a very fast pace. Our teaching methods still focus on testing knowledge at the completion of every level as opposed to teaching skills that are vital to deal with a volatile working environment.
Ujjwal Singh says, “Apart from the basic aptitude to perform a specific job, workers are expected to have technical skills, communication skills, soft skills and a basic understanding of IT for the current high-paced workplace. If educational institutions take the effort to impart these skills to students over and above their domain knowledge, we will be able to produce employable talented workforce to meet the growing needs of the industry.”
He suggests a few ways in which technological interventions can help make youth industry-ready for future:
- Incorporating digital capabilities meaningfully into the learning process gives students new opportunities to learn and attain skills required for the present-day work environment. Technology also grants immediate access to vast amounts of quality information and developing valuable research skills. Integrating technology in teaching and learning throughout the process, focusing on problems unique to our educational context, is imperative to plugging the existent talent gap.
- Technology allows for personalised learning, a way of teaching that caters to students’ individual needs. Keeping in mind, the different paces and levels of ability helps channel the students towards the right choice of employment based on their interests. This in turn will enrich their experience in a future workforce.
- Another effective approach to tackle the problem of lacking job-readiness among Indian students is an effective partnership between the industry and academia. Technology provides the platform for teachers and industry experts to collaborate and share their ideas and resources online.
- Providing training in high-demand job skills to those who have limited exposure levels in Tier II and III cities will help create far more job-ready employees.
India is coping with the skills gap and a significant number of even well-educated youth in the country are unemployed. Manikandan observes, “Youth unemployment is a major challenge in India. Young job seekers constitute 49 per cent of the total unemployed in India. And, even as literacy and educational levels are increasing, an estimated 89 per cent of young people lack any kind of vocational training and among the rest, about half have received it through hereditary practices. According to NASSCOM, almost 40 per cent of the skilled workforce is not employable because the acquired education and training are of substandard quality. With 93 per cent of the available work provided by the informal sector, a significant number of even well-educated youth in India are either unemployed, underemployed, seeking employment or between jobs, or coping with insecure work arrangements.”
He suggests, “It is critical for the educational institutions to impart 21st century skills, such as innovation, collaboration and critical thinking, to Indian students to make them more employable.”
Even though the technology has changed the way students learn, there are some security issues which are being addressed by new pieces of education technology tools. Ujjwal Singh submits, “Technology makes the teaching-learning process very easy and interesting, but there are potential security risks involved. Emerging ICT applications must have security policies and mechanisms that support authentication, authorisation, confidentiality and accountability. Online learning providers and practitioners must consider security as top priority. Children must be made aware of the nature of threats that exist online and given clear guidelines about the parameters in which they can operate online.”
He suggests few ways to ensure children’s security online, which are:
- Children should be given restricted access to technology;
- Software should be designed in a way that allows joint access with parental or teacher supervision;
- Parental guidance and supervision is another way to ensure children are secure while using technological tools; and
- It is also important to check the rate of dependency among children on technology. There should be clear communication that it is a means to an end, not the end in itself.
Though technology has lots of benefits and offering support to ease the learning process, it has some challenges, too. Says Manikandan, “Digital technologies are everywhere and they are impacting what, where, how and why students learn, and who they learn from. Many schools are using digital technologies like the internet, laptops and tablets to quickly, easily and cost-effectively connect students with the huge range of digital services and resources. However, the many benefits of learning with digital technologies are accompanied by some challenges and potential risks for students as well as schools. These ‘digital challenges’ are real and present a dilemma to schools seeking to use digital technology to enhance student learning.”
To overcome these challenges, he suggests, “There are technical solutions available like Mobile Device Management, commonly called MDM. If deployed, MDMs can provide good amount of safety to the extent of enforcing security policies and/or making the device work in kiosk mode. Such technical solutions have a role, but must be balanced with strategies that promote:
- Development of skills and knowledge for safe and responsible use of digital technology;
- Opportunities for students to be involved in decisions about the management of digital technology at the school;
- Development of a pro-social culture of digital technology use; and
- Cooperation of the whole community in preventing and responding to incidents. The ultimate goal is to ensure the online safety of all students. We cannot sidestep our obligation to make technology a tool our kids can use safely and responsibly.