India has more than 14 lakh schools and 23 crore students, making it one of the most expansive networks of education for children from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). It is not a surprise then that K-12 classrooms have been one of the early adopters of tech enabled solutions, especially during COVID. Trends like STEM learning, robotics, online group lessons and assessments have been some of the most common forms of teach enablers for young students. Today, as we complete three years to NEP announcement, a lot of progress has been made in terms of fine-tuning plans and building a framework to implement policies that will finally give shape to the vision of the digital first education system in India, under the NEP 2020. However, a strategic policy structure for school education needs to go much beyond just collaborating with edtech startups and needs to address key challenges. Simple innovations that can not only help build a framework anchored around the National Education Policy, but also drive the transformation while bringing uniformity in learning across the country, is the need of the hour.
Initiatives under the NEP, like The National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) and the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) e-platform are expertly structured and, when implemented effectively can help accelerate digital transformation of the education system. However, these have an umbrella approach that can prove effective when the framework can also acknowledge localised developments and challenges.
TECH THAT IS LANGUAGE AGNOSTIC
India with its diverse culture, has over 100 different languages and dialects spoken across its various states. Most government run schools have the main regional language of the state as the primary or the only medium of education, used by teachers and students. Tech, including the internet, continues to largely offer information in English, creating a barrier for even those that can have access to computers and the internet. Creating tech solutions that are language agnostic and can be easily customised to suit non-English language learning, would be the first step to making digital learning accessible to all, including those in the remotest corners of the country.
TECH THAT IS AGILE TO ACCOMMODATE SYLLABUS
As with the diversity of language, the Indian K-12 education system also accommodates multiple curriculums and optional subjects. A tech solution that is agile and can be customised to suit teacher or student needs, would be vital to ensure wider acceptability. Tech solutions that can also be modified or upgraded from time to time so as to best fit the immediate need of the students, would be imperative to make it effective and acceptable.
TECH THAT IS INTERNET AGNOSTIC
While India continues to lead as one of the top countries with the largest number of internet users, the digital infrastructure across the country is far from consistent. Internet for now, is available on smartphones at best in rural areas. And while efforts are on to build a faster, 5G enabled internet framework, it would be a while before the remotest parts of the country can access that. Under such circumstances, tech enabled learning solutions needs to take into account these inconsistencies if they wish to be accessible by the masses. Tech solutions that are not heavily dependent on the internet or consistent electricity, would help build a truly accessible digital learning solution.
CREATING A DATA-BASED SOLUTION
Indian education system has mainly been focused on ‘assessment of learning‘ methodology that promotes rote learning and puts a lot of burden on teachers to evaluate each student based on lengthy, handwritten answer sheets. Replacing these with effective tech enabled assessment tools can also help establish a data driven performance monitoring methodology. Apart from reducing the administrative burden on teachers, and removing human errors, tech-based assessment solutions provide data backed insights into individual student performances, helping teachers understand a student’s performance graph, their grasp of a subject, and learning challenges if any. Apart from streamlining the assessment model, it also promotes ‘assessment for learning’ instead of ‘assessment of learning’, thereby helping change the paradigm.
TECH THAT EMPOWERS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
In addition to the above, effective tech solution for the masses should be able to empower students and teachers to make learning more effective, engaging, and insightful. Simple to use digital solutions can help students leverage tech for independent learning through self-assessment while teachers can use it for making classroom learning more engaging. In addition to improving the learning experience, tech enabled learning solutions should also help facilitate hybrid learning, group or blended learning, allow students to form virtual study groups with special focus on subjects that need more attention, and empower parents to help their children gain access to affordable and modern learning aids.
To summarise, Pankaj Agarwal, Founder & CEO TagHive wants to add: The above tech features would be a big step in the overall evolution of tech enabled learning, and making it accessible for masses, across the country. Only then is technology truly able to benefit all strata of K-12 classrooms, including private schools, and government schools across metros, towns and rural areas, thereby creating a truly inclusive and accessible learning environment. In 2023, edtech is also going to be strong factor in moulding and nurturing young minds who will be the future of the nation, empowering them to not just be future ready but to also drive the global economies, leading from the front!