Classes Go Hi-Tech
Business Today|June 27, 2021
HOW TECHNOLOGY HAS TRANSFORMED THE WAY EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FUNCTION
NIDHI SINGAL

Institutes of higher education in India have been looking beyond physical classrooms and paper-pen assessments for a long time. In spite of this, the adoption of education technology, or EdTech, did not become a huge trend. The covid-10 outbreak has changed this. As the pandemic forced education institutions to abandon face-to-face teaching, educators turned to technology for everything, right from conducting entrance exams and course delivery to assessments and managing their knowledge repositories. Digital whiteboards, hybrid classrooms, adaptive tracking camera systems, display equipment and audio-visual technologies are the new buzzwords at education institutes.

“Today, India finds itself doing well in the global EdTech index with Bangalore and Delhi at 7th and 14th positions, respectively, globally. While the EdTech space had been growing at a steady pace over the years, the pandemic accelerated this growth, making way for a massive expansion in the sector,” says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, MD & SVP, International operations, anthology Inc, a global company which sells solutions that augment classroom learning.

INDIA’S EdTech MARKET SIZE

CURRENT

$700 MILLION

IN TEN YEARS

$30 BILLION (expected)

According to RBSA Advisors, India’s EdTech market is estimated to be close to $700 million. It is expected to touch $30 billion in the next 10 years. “There is a higher demand for technology in higher education than school education. Most higher education institutions are investing in EdTech solutions to facilitate better learning and assessment,” says Chandrashekar Ramanathan, Dean of Academics & Faculty In-charge Computing, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B).

Course Delivery

Premier institutes such as IIIT-B have been enhancing classroom experience using tools such as smart boards for years. IIIT-B, for instance, introduced its first smartboard in 2006. It started live-transmitting classes to multiple classrooms in 2001. Around 2010, it, along with other leading institutes, adopted Learning Management System (LMS), a software for creating, distributing and managing educational content. This remained on institutes’ internal servers and available on intranet. The pandemic has forced IIIT-B and others to put LMS on the internet so that it can be accessed from anywhere. Even the Karnataka government is rolling out a unified LMS for government institutions.

“Although the concept of blended learning focused on online tools in initial years, there still existed a significant component of instruction which was synchronous (live interaction between teacher and students, online or in-person). This was soon to be transformed into an asynchronous mode (no live interaction between students and teachers). Here, the content is pre-recorded in high-quality video/audio format. The LMS aids delivery of content and enables each student to learn at his/her convenience,” says Professor Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM-Indore.

“While institutions have been using LMS, email and collaboration tools over the past decade, Covid-19 has given a fillip to digital transformation in higher education. Virtual classrooms enabled by Zoom, apart from short videos, simulations, case studies in virtual classes and polling apps are some of the tools being widely used to extend physical class to a virtual setting,” says Shailaja Jha, Associate Professor & Area Head, Information Management at Bhavan's SPJIMR. Bhavan’s extensively uses video-conferencing tools (Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Meet), instant messaging tools (WhatsApp, Telegram) and educational apps (Google Classroom) along with platforms such as Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams. Similarly, Gurgaon-based MDI is using Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, besides Zoom and Webex. “We have also adopted Impartus, which offers interactive smart classes, in our learning system,” says Prof. Sangeeta Shah Bharadwaj, Chairperson, Digital Infrastructure, MDI Gurgaon.

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