Old is Gold. Will the adage still hold for the new age education model where technology is quickly replacing the old and famous blackboards? Of course not, if we go by what Everonn Education, a leading e-learning company in India has envisioned for technology-enabled learning. Basically, it is a learning done at a computer. According to the company, this new education model (including computer based training and e-learning) is here to stay and would not burst like dotcom bubble since India has a huge shortage( about 1.2 million) teachers . And the whole industry is worth about $15 bn, the company added.
A Brief Perspective
While there are many government schools especially in Tamil Nadu where technology-enabled learning has been commissioned, the bigger challenge in the new year and the years to follow would be of propagating the same to rest of the government schools in the entire country, This is to ensure that they are on par with private schools, which are relentlessly spending crores of rupees on the new education model.
EdServ, another popular e-learning company in the country is of the opinion that it would be impossible to retain school children and increase their admissions in higher education unless schools are supported with quality content and teacher empowerment using technology. NIIT Ltd. too has its version of opinion on how technology-enabled learning has enabled students to learn the theories and practical better. And it attributed this to the ready availability of multimedia computers and internet.
Mr.Asheesh Raina of Gartner has two cents on how technology is changing the education today. He said, “today’s kids are ‘digital native’-born in the digital world as opposed to a person in his 30s being a ‘digital immigrant’ i.e. those who entered the digital era in the last few years. Students are using sophisticated gadgets at a young age. This puts pressure on the education system to make content available on gadgets rather than on black boards. Also, with the shortage of skilled teachers and low salary levels, technology is the alternative”.
Key Players in the field
Altogether there are about 200 players in this space in India and prominent ones among them being Everonn, EdServe, Educomp, NIIT. The areas that these companies focus on include online tuition, online test preparation, soft skills training etc. This literally depicts that technology-enabled learning has a huge scope and potential in the country owing to its huge population.
The Government of India has also been contributing in this field. For instance, UGC-INFONET set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) allows for online access of scholarly literature in all areas of learning to various universities in the country. Mention can also be made of National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) being offered by IITs and IISc in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resource Development that uses multimedia and web technology to enhance learning of basic science and engineering concepts. Like these, there are other initiatives as well.
Talking of the main advantages of this new education model, teachers would find it easier to disseminate their knowledge. In the blackboard model of teaching what happened was they have a hard time explaining concepts that encompass complicated diagrams. An example of that is the DNA diagram. A teacher explains the diagram on the blackboard while students are in the state of perplexity as they have to take notes alongside visualizing/understanding the same. But in the technology-enabled learning, students are taught the same concept with interactive multimedia content that makes grasping the concept a breeze for the students. Perhaps, they get the real feel of the diagram due to the powerful visuals used in the video/slides.
Justindianschools.com has an interesting report on technology-enabled learning in Indian schools. It said that this model of learning can remove social and economic boundaries by ways of making classroom teaching highly interactive.
Its Future in India
Now let’s come to the future of technology-enabled learning in India. There are not many schools and colleges that have employed this model. There is a long way for the rest to go. The success of this model needs a good intervention from the side of the government. However government alone cannot accomplish this uphill task. Private sectors also need to go in tandem with the former to achieve the desired target. Now that the Right to Education Act is here, a portion of the funding should be allocated to the development of technology-enabled learning in the country. Like in Australia, India too needs to have a state department that caters to technology-based learning in the country. There is no denying the fact that classroom teaching cannot be replaced with anything, however a classroom teaching coupled with technology-based learning can certainly help weed out the evil roots of illiteracy in India.
Ain’t the time ripe now for the change?