By Anish Srikrishna, Chief Executive Officer, Times Professional Learning
2021 has made tech-enabled education a permanent feature. Educational institutions should now leverage technology and redesign curricula to meet the post-pandemic challenges of skilling and employability.
In many ways, 2021 was a continuation of 2020: while the protracted fight against the pandemic continued, we got accustomed to the elevated state of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) that the global situation has been in. In retrospect, however, 2021 was also a year of learnings for industries across the board that found ways to pivot and adapt to a constantly evolving scenario. It is especially true for the education sector that managed to grow out of its traditional mould and put in place new tech-driven teaching and learning processes. This wasn’t an easy transition, as education was one of the last frontier sectors to have adapted to technology. How exactly did this happen? And what does this mean for the future of India’s 600 million young learners who are under the age of 25?
The final push towards tech-enabled education
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The biggest challenge for the education system in India has been to reach out to millions of inaccessible learners. The scale of the problem is too large to manage, with the limited supply of quality educators and educational institutions in the country. There is sheer inequity in education due to a demand-supply mismatch. When compared to its peer countries like China and Brazil, India’s 24:1 student-teacher ratio is alarmingly low. The problem has intensified by the availability of very few premier educational institutions that have a small cohort of highly qualified teachers and continue to remain citadels of elite education. However, the problems faced today, whether it is climate change, poverty or gender disparity, demand that learning be available to every person in the remotest of areas.
The democratisation of education is only achievable by leveraging the power of technology even though educators and learners have had a conscious preference for in-person instruction. It prevented the teaching-learning process from undergoing a massive transformation, even though every other sector in India and the world continued to invite disruption and change through technology. With the pandemic, things changed drastically, and all schools, colleges, and higher education institutions enforced sweeping changes overnight. Covid-19, thus, acted as a powerful catalyst for ushering in a change of mindset and more importantly, it put to rest the debate about whether technology-enabled education is optional.
The questions we are looking to address deep into the second year of the pandemic are: How do we improve technology-enabled education, ensure that teachers are imparting education effectively and that learners are upskilling themselves through new online modes of education? The answer to these questions may lie in using advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things.
Using tech to deliver excellence in education
Author Clayton M. Christensen, in his iconic 2008 book, ‘Disrupting Class’, suggested the broadcasting of teaching lessons to classrooms across the United States of America to maximise the impact of the few good teachers available. The debate about excellence, access and affordability in education is an old one and has become particularly sharp in the era of ubiquitous connected devices. In the post-pandemic world, there is no longer a debate about whether to use technology to solve problems in the education space; the debate has now moved to how technology needs to be deployed to achieve higher efficacy and real-world learner outcomes.
The advent of AI has generated several edtech innovations that are solving for higher learner engagement and achieving better middle-of-the-class learning outcomes. With the quantum of rich user data available to edtech companies, there are opportunities to enhance the virtual classroom experience to approximate the physical experience. Assuming that strict privacy concerns are acknowledged, educators can use these tools to understand the engagement quotient of the students and initiate corrective measures. From simple automated Q&As after class to AI tools mapping learner eye movements across the screen, these tools are highly innovative and can power a seamless virtual classroom. With large volumes of students entering the job market in India, tech tools can ensure continuous development and improve the employability quotient for most of them.
Redesigning education systems and gearing them towards the real world
According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), over 10 million people lost their jobs because of the second wave of Covid-19 in 2021. Thus, now more than ever, gainful employment is a high-stakes issue, and education must be a route towards solving this problem. We are in the era of Industry 4.0, where AI, ML and robotics are touted to be the drivers of growth. Hence, to prepare students and learners for this highly technologized world, we need education systems that use synchronous and asynchronous methodologies via digital platforms and video-assisted learning. With such systems, learning can be accessible, fun, and collaborative for learners to be future-ready.
Education must be holistic and continuous as learning and employment should go hand in hand, promoting agility and adaptability while gearing up for uncertainty. Furthermore, discipline-based education also needs to be reoriented towards skill-based education. Instead of offering wide-ranging theory-based programmes, educational institutions need to identify the problems and challenges faced by our world today. They should introduce programmes that help students specialise in providing solutions for these problems.
Times Professional Learning’s (TPL) offers several programmes across disciplines and at different stages of a learner’s lifecycle. It offers educational programmes for early-career workers, working professionals and executive-level leaders to ensure lifelong learning and the opportunity to upskill and reskill. It also offers programmes that are employability-assured and has an ‘income sharing’ format to pay fees for select courses where candidates make payment on securing placements. TPL’s premium offerings in the BFSI domain include Post Graduate Diploma in Banking Management (PGDBM), Post Graduate Diploma in Banking Management (Extended Learning) [PGDBM (XL)], and Post Graduate Diploma in Sales and Relationship Banking (PGDSRB).
In addition, keeping in mind how skill sets such as supply chain management and logistics expertise were in great demand during the pandemic, TPL has offered industry-specific programmes ranging from Shipping & Logistics to Transportation, and Utilities etc. TPL’s develops its programmes to equip participants with the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly globalized and high-tech business environment. It also offers several courses in higher-order programmes like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Full Stack Web Development and Coding, among others.
Disclaimer: Content Produced by Times Professional Learning (TPL)