Future Trends of Digital Education in India

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Urban India has usually been quick to adapt new technology. Technology revolutionized the commercial sector including the publishing industry, the automobile industry and almost every aspect of urban life. Yet for some reason it did not influence the way we learn. However, that seems to be changing now. Digital education in India now looks like it will scale new horizons. The question is where we stand now and what should we expect going forward?

Challenges in the education sector

The biggest challenge in education is having the right teacher for the student. Although the pupil teacher ratio has improved over the years from 30:1 in 2005-2006 to 27:1 in 2016-17 according to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India Press Information Bureau report, we still lack of qualified teachers.

Teachers May Become Obsolete

“The Indian education system is not so bad, it is the people who are teaching are failures. Unless there is the real passion for teaching and some sort of financial background, good teachers don’t get into education,” says Khurshed Batliwala from the Art of Living and author of the book Ready Study Go.

When teachers themselves are not qualified, we cannot expect them to adapt teaching technology easily. While this is a clear and present problem, we find that qualified teachers are also afraid of technology. This problem has two aspects. One, they realize that students’ knowledge of technology is usually better than teachers. And two, teachers are afraid that technology will take over classrooms and make them obsolete.

It may well be true! With the increasing use of technology some teachers and institutions with the right technology and marketing infrastructure maybe the only ones to survive. They will make use of the infrastructure at their disposal and reduce other teachers to mere administrators of the study platforms that will become popular.

Learning may not necessarily happen only in the classroom

Stake holders in education and parents are now realizing that students need much more than information to be successful in life. The traditional way of teaching only imparts theoretical information and does not give practical experience to students. Also sports and physical activities are a must for students along with studies. Students are exhausted after a grueling day at school and have to rush for tuitions and complete home assignments. This routine hardly gives them time to indulge in physical and social activities.

Technology seems to be providing the answer for now. Many teachers are adapting the flip class system where homework means watching video lectures of a subject and classroom teaching has become periods for discussions and doubt solving.

The obvious advantage of the use of multimedia is that it can be consumed anywhere and anytime time. In other words students can watch videos when they are fresh and in their favourite study corner. They can adopt a schedule according to their own body clock.

Video will be freely used

Psychologists claim that the average attention span of young students is 10 to 15 minutes and their attention starts to diminish after that. Videos can be edited to be as small as 5 to 10 minutes. But that’s not all. Video can use animation and graphics to get the point through to the student. According to Cognitive Load Theory, the use of video and audio to impart information makes it easier to remember as compared to only audio. We should realize that a teacher giving a lecture in the classroom is only audio information. Also it is not physically possible for the most cooperative teacher to repeat lectures as per demands of the students, which can happen on video recorded lectures.

Study platforms like Robomate plus and Byju’s have used video to maximum advantage filling the video with lots of animation and limiting the time to below 10 minutes.

Edutainment will be the way forward

One very obvious upcoming trend will be the use of gaming to teach children. Experience teaches more than reception of information. Although video makes it easier to understand and gives the advantage to watch it as many times as possible, how does one assess the amount of information that a student has remembered?

It is an ongoing endeavor by programmers and researchers to make tests and assessments not just a tool to find out what the student knows, but also to contribute to his learning. MCQs have been found to be useful in this regard. However, gaming lends two important advantages to the learning process. It gives the student an experience. Learning by experience is far more conducive to remembering than mere receiving of information. When a student has to go through certain activities he will remember more information than just by watching video. At the same time if he is rewarded at the end of the assessment it will help him remember the concept even better. Many study platform programmers are building leader boards into the learning systems to improve student’s understanding and increase engagement.

Virtual Reality will become a reality

Virtual Reality is being increasingly used in many fields to enhance experience and is common in the gaming area. Once the education industry enters the experience zone, teaching through virtual reality will become the norm. The airline industry already uses this technology to teach budding pilots to fly. It will become easier for students to design cars and test them even before a prototype is built.

Addressing the earlier concern about lack of quality teachers, technology when supported with artificial intelligence may eliminate the necessity of a teacher completely. However, the student will be at an advantage for he can choose to learn whatever he wants at a fraction of the cost – since the use of infrastructure will be cut down drastically – and whenever he wants.