The education system of today in India could learn a great deal from its ancient predecessors, which placed great importance on vocational training and on teaching each student according to their ability and aptitude. Too many of today’s college graduates find their skills and knowledge in the modern workplace out of step with those they need. There is broad agreement that the curriculum needs to change and that teaching needs to improve quality, consistency and accessibility. There is much less agreement on how these changes can be brought about and little progress.
The promise of digital
Digital technology and e-learning provide a way to break this stalemate, address our system’s inconsistencies and inequalities, and turn our country into a true knowledge economy. First of all, e-learning is a great facilitator for both teachers and students. Teachers are better positioned to disseminate information to students with customized learning modules. In the knowledge that common e-learning resources provide knowledge backed by the latest research findings, they are also secure. This transformation is not going to happen overnight. In order to become a reality, it will need concerted action, with a key role for successful public-private partnership.
Private players’ digital learning modules are already making their presence felt in transforming the educational landscape of the country. At the same time, the Digital India initiative of the Center plays a role in shaping the e-learning experience of the nation. The beauty of the digital learning platform is that it offers easy access at an affordable cost to both teachers and students. We have the means to build a knowledge-intensive society with last mile connectivity and create a level playing field for all students, including the poor and those in rural areas. Everyone can be educated with the best resources to a common curriculum.
Roadmap of transformation
The first step is to begin integrating digital technology into the vast, complex school ecosystem in India, to begin the process of digitizing education in all the many schools and educational institutions in the country. This will mean customizing strategies for e-learning to meet the needs of various regions and disciplines. The process will be made easier by recognizing the different issues and intricacies from the beginning and by engaging with those who understand them. New progress is being made all the time and the rate of technological development is accelerating. Innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics of big data create new ways to improve the learning process.
Another example is the use of apps and the subtleties of correct pronunciation to learn foreign languages. Ten years ago, to understand the language and its nuances, students would spend two or three years attending regular French classes. A dedicated student can now achieve a similar skill within six to eight months from their home comfort and at a fraction of the cost, thanks to language apps.The list of new technologies, new ways of learning continues–there are just a few chatbots, augmented reality and virtual reality. The digital revolution is constantly but inevitably transforming our nation into a knowledge-based economy. Recognizing that the brick and click will have to work together is important for us, and it is vital that we build a matching education system. If we recognize the challenges and work together to make the most of the opportunities, this is possible.