Digital Transformation A Must For Indian Education
Digital India’s plans need a revision, as the digital ecosystems have now become more dynamic.
It wouldn’t be incorrect to assume that digital services will soon begin to dominate how we organize all aspects of our lives. We have gotten closer than ever in reaching our country’s digital integration goals. However, Digital India’s plans need a revision, as the digital ecosystems have now become more dynamic, with scores of private players, small businesses, and tech start-ups innovating rapidly and taking up the mantle of transforming the country through simple yet technologically adept services.
India’s digital journey so far has been uniquely Indian, following in the footsteps of the average Indian user’s utilitarian needs. This has now accelerated further with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. With the government imposing several restrictions on travel, social gatherings, and the functioning of businesses, the whole country was forced into adapting to the new reality of social distancing.
Coronavirus and its impact on digital services
Within 4 months of the lockdown, cities, and towns across the country began to seek new ways to bring their lives back to normalcy. With e-commerce, fintech, EdTech, and other sectors already going digital, thousands of digital service providers came to the rescue of millions of citizens, by quickly adapting their systems and software to cater to their essential needs. The switch to digital at such short notice is an unusual phenomenon. If it were any other time, bringing a change in consumer behaviour and choices would have taken up to 10 years to permeate across several sections of society.
Moreover, rural India’s average internet usage surpassing that of urban India’s is a tell-tale sign of where our country’s digital futures lie. Such is the level of internet penetration, that individuals with relatively lesser privileges can access 4G internet in remote areas. Families are concerned about the adverse effects of COVID-19 on their children’s education, pushing them towards investing in internet access so that their children could attend live online classes on their phones. Young professionals on their part are keen on utilizing the 4G facilitated opportunities to learn new skills through e-learning programs.
Unfortunately, India still has a long way to go when it comes to delivering affordable and quality education to millions of children. Even to this day, many of them do not have access to functioning schools with qualified teachers and curriculums, either due to geographical or financial constraints. The internet is bridging this gap between the haves and the have not’s, by allowing cost-effective EdTech solutions to flourish.
Changing the EdTech landscape and new technologies
The government has recognized the significance of ‘last mile connectivity’ and the powerful opportunity it presents in delivering unique EdTech solutions. The innovations in the field are allowing tailor-made solutions to be designed, keeping the personalized goals aspect of enrolling students and young professionals in mind. Moreover, the ‘standard-fare’ educational qualifications are very expensive and often not inclusive in understanding the diversity of student requirements and individual proficiencies.
E-learning companies have joined the bandwagon of several digital education service providers, which are now competing to provide skilling opportunities to people in remote locations, as the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach becomes obsolete. Standardized education has been falling short on delivering the desired results over the decades, i.e. in preparing students for professional life, making them job-ready, soft skills training, etc.
In addition to these developments, EdTech firms are integrating AI-based solutions on to their platforms, intending to streamline services. AI-enabled systems are now able to assess skill levels and progress made by each individual through large caches of meta-data and reliable academic sources. Furthermore, even the government now has plans to integrate AI solutions into their university administration and examination mechanisms to be able to score and process millions of entries to avoid mishaps. Automation of this magnitude has become a precursor in eliminating human errors, which have become ubiquitous in manual working conditions.
Digital services have obliterated the need for physical infrastructure in imparting quality education. For decades, various governments in the country were plagued with budgetary and staffing constraints as qualified government teachers often avoided being posted to remote areas.
Be it the meagre standard of living, lack of educational qualifications or the absence of educational aids and tools, large tracts of rural India were isolated from accessing credible education. EdTech has permanently altered this situation by facilitating high-quality content and teaching methodologies through economical means i.e. through affordable smartphones and remote learning. They are now beginning to expand these services further by offering courses in vernacular languages, making it easier for less proficient pupils to chart their learning outcomes and knowledge growth.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house