Going Live: Education’s Tryst with Digital India

Textbooks will no longer exist in the classroom within 10 years’ time.” – believes Prof Neil Selwyn, Faculty of Education, Monash University.

The government of India has embarked on the task of transforming the face of India and of bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban India. Mr. Narendra Modi, the Honourable Prime Minister of India launched the Digital India campaign with the objective to connect the entire country with high-speed internet networks and was also able to secure commitments from national and global business heads for an investment of US $ 3.3 trillion. A major chunk of the investment is in line with the government’s vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy – and driving on this momentum the education sector is poised to witness major growth in the years to come.

The government recognises that the ‘Gen Y’ of India is always connected and lives a fast-paced online life. A recent study clearly reveals that Indians are amongst the most aggressive users of massively open online courses (MOOCs) and with over 200 million of the one billion population being connected to the internet, the need for a rapid digitization of the sector cannot be ignored.

The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) scheme aims to leverage the potential of digitization for learners. The mission has two major objectives, generating content for digitization of education and to provision access to connectivity and devices for learners. Under the NMEICT mission 419 universities and more than 25000 level colleges and polytechnics have been envisaged to be transformed into digital learning hubs empowering the youth.

As an avid follower of the digital revolution in the educational sector, I am quite impressed with the swiftly changing times where the government and the education industry experts are now accepting that the days of the chalk and talk is slowly ending and that the time has come to shift to a blended learning atmosphere. The digitization of India and the strong backing of the government acts as an accelerator for the sector that aims to make learning accessible, interactive and immersive.

The modern day students are connected and influenced by the world around them and are no longer only textbook oriented. The steady influx of the Internet of Everything (IoE) empowers them to experience anytime anywhere learning.

The changing times demand for a more pervasive teaching methodology which will be a radical shift from the teacher-centred rote learning system to a facilitator based immersive learning curriculum. The classroom of tomorrow will not be limited by boundaries of school and colleges; it will be an open world learning environment which allows the learners (a broader and more relevant term for students) to learn what they want and when they want.

The ubiquitous green board in the classrooms is being replaced by modern age technology (and I am not referring to the projector) – the new age syllabi will be delivered over powerful handheld devices, high-speed broadband connection and will be monitored by learning management systems (LMS). The methodology of imparting knowledge will see a dynamic shift where the learner takes centre stage and the teacher changes roles to become a facilitator instead of being an instructor. Learning will be highly personalised where the learners are not limited by time and space or regular class hours – this shift from the linear learning model will not only make it more interactive and engaging but will also allow the learner to access videos, podcasts and other related online content at a later stage.

As a student, I had faced a lot of fear when asking doubts in the classroom and in my later years I constantly observed that though the batch and years changed but the fear of ridicule while raising a query remained. Understanding capabilities differ person to person – a widely acknowledged fact – but has been seldom used in the education sector. The digitization of education will provide the much needed solution and will allow the learner to ask questions, raise queries anonymously and confidently.

Another important aspect of learning is assessment, I firmly believe the use of technology like analytics and LMS will allow the facilitator (the new role of the teacher) to keep track of the individual learners understanding and grasp. Online tests can be monitored at the end of a session to assess the takeaway from the class – reducing the time taken to evaluate papers. Feedback for the learners will be immediate and personalised rather than general.

We all know that technology is ubiquitous – digital education is a pathway to harness the energy and the inquisitive spirit of the youth enabling them to be the heralds of development. In simple words, it is time to ride the technology wave that is set to radically transform the education sector.

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