Challenges & Future Trends of Digital Education in India

There is no doubt that education is a large service market and one of the safest investment areas in the country now. Unfortunately, our system and process of teaching is still the same. India’s education budget coupled with huge philanthropic donations both domestic and internationally is not being able to solve our education problem. Approximately 58% of the children who are in a position to access primary education do not make it to the secondary section. Those who do make it are good for nothing. That may sound blunt but it is true that 80% of Indian workforce does not possess identifiable marketable skills.

Education is big business

Tell somebody you are affiliated to the education field and their first reaction is that it is a great place to be and how it is a business where the sun never sets. A safe investment. However, it is changing since it is dynamic. I have been advising all my friends who cared to listen that the normal brick and mortar system will change with time since it is one business product that can go digital easily. Some of the more tech-friendly guys went ahead and installed projectors. However, it is dawning on a lot of educationists now that going digital is whole new ball game altogether.I am thinking philanthropy and I am thinking business. Approximately 58% of the children who are in a position to access primary education do not make it to the secondary section. One obvious reason is money. Another reason being that the lectures are boring. Some schools are early in the morning. I am a night owl myself. Add to that the whole gamut of reasons why the Indian education system doesn’t work. Not because it is bad, but the

I am thinking philanthropy and I am thinking business. Approximately 58% of the children who are in a position to access primary education do not make it to the secondary section. One obvious reason is money. Another reason being that the lectures are boring. Some schools start early in the morning. I am a night owl myself. Add to that the whole gamut of reasons why the Indian education system doesn’t work. Not because it is bad, but the stakeholders cannot implement it correctly (The story of every other system in India).

It is not surprising that a high percentage of the Indian workforce does not possess identifiable marketable skills. The children follow their friends to college or some take some relatives advice. When they do realize that what they are doing is not something they would like to do the rest of their lives, it is already very late. They have to either throw away so much of their lives or carry on what they have been bound to.

It is estimated that over 75% of new jobs will be skill based. The government of India has now brought in skill-based learning system into the curriculum and changed the marking system to a credit based system. It could be a case of too little too late, but at least it is a step ahead.

The biggest hurdle that we have is that the teachers are themselves not qualified to impart education. Step away from the urban scene and rural based teachers do not have the basic skills to teach students basic language let alone science and maths. The need of the hour is to use technology.

Technology as the saviour.

Beaming lectures to rural schools has been talked about a lot and has remained just that, just talk. It is now an old concept although it could still be implemented although the drawback may be that it will increase the pupil-teacher ratio on ground. Although the ratio of teacher and students stands at around 30 students per teacher, we all know that it is just a statistic and we see no less than 70 students per class. Any given teacher will not be able to give students proper guidance as they deserve.

Flip classrooms may be a good solution, but they demand that every student has a tablet or computer at hand. Thankfully smartphones are taking over and increasing reach. Many large IT corporations are trying to implement internet of things and some multinationals like Google and Facebook want to provide internet to those areas of the country where cables and traditional modes of communication have not been able to reach.

We could find a solution to our problems with technology.

Future Trends of Digital Education in India

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. In this scenario Digital Education in India may have the following changes.

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. Thus, bringing in a much needed revolution to Digital Education in India

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 time 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. This is one of the biggest advantages of Digital Education in India.

Digital Education in India will Freely Use Videos 

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. Why? Because she cannot demonstrate many experiments in science or even show many things in other subjects such as geographical phenomenon. 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 Byju’s, Khan Academy and Robomate plus have used video to maximum advantage – filling the video with lots of animation and limiting the time to below 10 minutes. The scope for making effective educational videos is vast since this form of teaching and learning is only being accepted with  Digital Education in India .

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. Digital Education in India is the need of the hour if we want to convert the vast majority of children and adults into literate and responsible students.

Making technology Work for Education

The biggest pain points of Indian education are lack of resources, you can read that as  Qualified teachers and time for these teachers so that they can help children in need of guidance. Any parent whose child is not performing in school will take you the reason – the teacher. Teachers are people who tell the child what to study at home, when it is their job to explain concepts. Teachers are the people who make ridiculous demands for projects which they have never taught their students and know that parents will eventually make it and send the project to school. In short teachers are to blame for students spending so much time in school but not learning anything.

Are we setting up our teachers to fail?

We have put teachers in such a position that they are bound to fail. We want then to complete the curriculum. Give and assess projects. Design, take and assess tests. Do other admin work. And also help children learn. The priorities are not defined and like any other good employee they prioritize according to the demands of the administration. No wonder they fail! They are doing what they are held accountable for and the responsibility to teach is never a priority unless the school decides that’s what they want to do. That is why we have good schools and bad schools.

We should try and give the teachers more time with the students. How? Thank fully the education ministry probably after realizing the need of the hour has decided to use technology. The government with is vast resources and funding can record lectures and programmes of concepts that are taught in school. There are enough studies floating around and experts who are authorities in the field of education and learning who can guide us with learning methods and outcomes. Test design and assessments can also be handled by technology today leaving the teacher free to concentrate on individual weaknesses of the students.

A teacher in Finland where they firmly believe that children should have fun while learning and implement what they call learning to learn style of teaching usually devotes around three hours per student. But their school days are short. Although we can definitely ease up on our students they can spend time in school learning new skills rather than simply knowing what to study for the exams.

Standardized tests should be given but not to differentiate between students but rather make it easy for them to learn at their own pace.