Technology’s Increasing Role In Education And Skill Development

By Nijhum Rudra

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The introduction of new technologies and electronic gadgets has played an important role in transforming the education sector in numerous ways. When education is coupled with technology, students and teachers find it more interesting because sharing of knowledge becomes more engaging, easier, and hassle-free.

By: Nijhum Rudra

Technology has become the most imperative element of our lives and is helping to solve the endless intricacies of our hectic lives. In this 21st century, science and technology are playing a vital role in boosting the global economy. As experts rightly point out, any business or economy that does not have sophisticated technology cannot grow further. Its importance is now visible in every sector, and one such sector is education.

Technology has played a crucial role in transforming the education sector in numerous ways. Both public and private schools are now using technology and electronic gadgets for teaching, which makes their work much easier.

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As per several surveys conducted by education experts, when education is coupled with technology, students and teachers find it more interesting because sharing of knowledge becomes more engaging, easier, and hassle-free. The Internet has played a key role in making technology more accessible to people.

Advanced education technology expenditure 2018-2025
Figure 1: Advanced education technology expenditure 2018-2025 (Source: HolonIQ, Smart Estimates, January 2019)

In education, technology’s role is divided into four categories: it is included as a part of the curriculum, as an instructional delivery system, as a means of aiding instructions, and also as a tool to enhance the entire learning process.

Education is still skewed towards digital domains. But this has to change, and technology needs to be seen as a core to teaching methods and not just a vestigial facilitator.

Prior to the Covid-19 situation, nothing much was happening. There were several e-learning platforms like Byju’s, but the adoption of technology in education was very minimal.

For most of the educational institutions, technology means setting up a computer/IT lab where an outdated curriculum is followed. Often, you will not find any initiative or support coming from the institutions, but there are several informal groups formed by students.

Technology’s deep role in education

According to the US government, both public and private schools have at least one computer for every five students, and they spend more than three billion dollars annually on digital content. A couple of years back, the US federal government announced that they were planning to introduce high-speed Internet and free online teaching resources in every remote and rural school. After the US, many of the European nations have also implemented the same technique, followed by India, where now more than fifty per cent of schools, both public and private, have computers and other electronic gadgets, claims the Ministry of HRD.

The use of electronic gadgets is helping students and teachers in several ways. Learning and teaching via cool gadgets and technology are somewhat similar to watching your favourite movies, shows, or music videos. Using electronic gadgets in classrooms, such as iPods, smartboards, digital electronic devices, tablet PCs, etc, satisfies the growing standard of technology and prepares students for the future.

The major advantage is that technology/electronic gadgets assist students to develop their skill sets. Today, a majority of schools in India and around the world are technology-enabled. Teachers need to be well acquainted with new technologies so that they can use them properly in their teaching. Proper training sessions are now being given to teachers so that they can effectively use these sophisticated gadgets.

Another important aspect is that technology-based education helps students to think beyond their notebooks and improve their learning skills. Learning from tablet, PC and even smartphone is fun besides being quite easy and comfortable.

Ankit Shyamsukha, CEO, ICA Edu Skills, tells exclusively to EFY Media, “With accessible and affordable Internet, people are consuming content like never before. Even movies are being released online first. Doctors are being consulted over a 12.7cm (5-inch) mobile screen. Money is being earned and also spent online. Hence, it is logical that education/skilling is also going to see a sea change. From a hardware perspective, electronic products that provide portability and comfortability with a wider screen will always be high on demand, especially in short to medium-term range. This period shall see a huge uptick in the purchase of personal computers or laptops, tablets, etc. From a software perspective, anything that encourages guided or differential learning experiences will be high on priority. This pandemic has already shown how education should be our prime focus.”

Total global education expenditure
Figure 2: Total global education expenditure (Source: HolonIQ, Smart Estimates, January 2019)

One of India’s premier educational training institutes, ICA Edu Skills, states, “A lot of money has already been pumped into the edtech sector right from the beginning of this pandemic. Guided learning is going to take a lot of precedences now and in the future too. Home or private tuitions may see a disruption in the coming years. Guided learning platforms such as Vedantu and Byju’s, which were considered as an ‘add-on’ to private coaching, shall now become mainstream. A lot of change will also happen at the test-preps industry online, and it will gain popularity over its offline and traditionally prominent classroom-based competitors. This change may be temporary or permanent, but online test prep is here to stay.”

Growth of technology/electronics in education globally

Even in 2017, technology had advanced so much that it helped the global education technology market to reach 17.7 billion dollars. It is expected to grow to 40.9 billion dollars by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.3 per cent.

On the other hand, a report by MarketsandMarkets Research Private says that the global education technology market is expected to grow from 43.27 billion dollars in 2015 to 93.76 billion dollars this year, at a CAGR of 16.72 per cent.

The report also states that there are a number of new trends that are creating new opportunities for the education providers and learners so that information can be effectively assessed by the end-users, including people with disabilities. Assistive and learning management solutions are enabling teachers to deliver special education in classrooms. The constant progression of technology in education has helped educators to create classrooms that are concrete, developed, collaborative, and conducted entirely through Web services.

The education industry is now spearheaded by high-speed Internet and top-notch electronic equipment valued at 76.4 billion dollars in 2019. The value is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.1 per cent from 2020 to 2027.

According to Frost & Sullivan, education technology market growth is characterised by seismic shifts in technological demands and innovation, a solid movement towards virtual reality and augmented learning, and a user-centric product development strategy.

Growth of technology based education in India

Globally, India is an important country in the field of education and has one of the highest clusters of sophisticated educational institutions. Also, it has immense potential to develop education systems further. In fact, the government has recently aimed to escalate its current gross ratio enrolment to thirty per cent by the end of this year, which would further galvanise the growth of distance education in the country.

The education sector in India was valued at 91.7 billion dollars in FY18 and was expected to reach 101.1 billion dollars in FY19, says research firm IBEF. India has become the second-largest market for e-learning after the US. The sector is expected to reach 1.96 billion dollars by 2021 with around 9.5 million users. The total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow into the education sector in India stood at 3.24 billion dollars from April 2000 to March 2020.

A couple of months back, the government of India launched PM eVIDYA, a programme for multi-mode access to digital/online education. Other initiatives to be launched in the coming years include Manodarpan, New National Curriculum and Pedagogical framework, National Foundational Literacy, and Numeracy Mission. In order to boost the Skill India Mission, two new schemes, Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE), have been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), government of India, with an outlay of 66.55 billion rupees. These will be supported by the World Bank.
By the end of 2021, India’s e-learning capacity would have basked in a steady growth rate of 25 per cent each year and become a 1.96 billion dollars industry. According to a report by KPMG, in India, the edtech industry stood at 247 million dollars in 2016 and is expected to reach 1.96 billion dollars by the end of 2021. Backed by the Digital India initiative, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has offered various schemes and initiatives to perk-up edtech industry, such as E-Yantra, virtual lab, Free and Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), National Digital Library (NDL), SWAYAM and SWAYAM Prabha.

Current obstructions to the edtech market

In the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the economy has crippled globally but, at the same time, everything has gone online, even in the education sector, where electronic gadgets and technology are playing an extremely crucial role to boost the sector. tecARC believes that like any other sector, digital has become the backbone of the education sector. No assessment has been done yet, but as per observation, every school has become digital, at least in the private sector.

Online education in India: 2021
Figure 3: Online education in India: 2021 (Source: KPMG report)

ICA Edu Skills have highlighted several challenges in an exclusive conversation with EFY Media. These are as follows:

Content

Both digital and physical education have their own pros and cons. It’s slightly difficult to state it with a number of data. We are still seeing a lot of traditional courses that were relevant decades ago and are prevalent even today. So, how can we have a better digital learning experience? If we see, the syllabus of B.Com in India hasn’t changed in a decade. The engineering syllabus has only been modified a little. Thus, we need to change our content. We need to invest a lot of time, energy, and brains into developing content that is relevant in today’s times. This is really important.

Connectivity

Though Internet data packs have become affordable, still, there are many places where connectivity is poor. Although, we believe that this issue is already being addressed at a good pace by telecom giants like Jio.

Hardware

When we speak about digital education, it does not mean just mobile phones. Our country has one of the lowest penetrations of laptops and personal computers in the world. With digital education gaining popularity, these electronic gadgets need to be made available, especially to those people who cannot afford. This can only happen with government intervention.

Skilling

We have heard this term being used by a lot of political figures, stating its importance for the nation’s growth, removing poverty, and making the country self-reliant, right since independence. However, we still have a long way to go. A huge allocation of funds is the demand of the hour so that skilling can reach every young individual in our country.

Currently, there is no such major project that addresses the skilling and training needs of our youth digitally.


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