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EdTech 2017-04-18

Can EdTech play a paramount role to enhance learning and education?

EdTech consists of amalgamation of new products and services to enhance teaching and learning.

By Chief Digital Officer
Can EdTech play a paramount role to enhance learning and education?

EdTech Innovation Ecosystem constitutes of a wide range of stakeholders. Entrepreneurs, Investors, Researchers, Practitioners and Students to name a few. The ecosystem combines the efforts of all the stakeholders to develop and adopt new products and services to improve teaching and learning.

A lot of innovation is happening in the field like Massive Open Online Courses(MOOC), online degree and certifications programs for higher education. These initiatives were to solve the problem of access and enable inclusion. However, very often, it is those who have good access and those who are well to do who seem to have benefited rather than the masses. The adoption of these new learning resources have been tepid amongst the average students. It is pertinent to ask questions if these innovations help an average student, and more importantly what should be the parameters under which we enable an average student to adopt EdTech.

Let us examine the points that are in favour of EdTech Innovation. Firstly, students adopt technology naturally and secondly access to technological resources is far more widespread than ever before.At the same time adoption to EdTech is restrained owing to the typical mind-set of sitting in a typical chalk and talk class remains and a student still expects to be taught through a structured learning which is, rather than self-learning. High drop-out rates of MOOCs also indicates that students prefer to be engaged with the instructor.

A major factor that determines the effectiveness of the ecosystem is the willingness of the students to adapt to its offerings. Our experience is that a good EdTech Platform relies on balance between:

1. Self vs Structured Learning

2. Technology-Led vs. Instructor-led Learning

3. Individualised vs. Mass Customised Learning

Now let us see how we can implement a balanced approach that works for students while still being scalable by using technology.

Self vs Structured Learning
It is observed that there is a direct linkage between student knowledge levels and ability and willingness to self-learn. Better the student, higher is the willingness to self-learn. In light of this, it is important to have a layer of structured learning to enable adoption of EdTech by an average student. For example, while 100s of recorded video classes are necessary for self-learning, it must be brought under a proper learning structure. Synchronised live classes brought in periodically (say weekly) and common assessment with relative benchmarking among all students have been the two pillars of structuring which brands like TalentSprint has used to a great extent to enable this and are seeing average student adopt to the platform with ease.

Technology-led vs. Instructor-led Learning
In the pursuit of technology enablement of learning, a lot of new technologies have opened up including animations or augmented reality.While these are highly useful technologies, the adoption to the same by an average student is lower than a typical instructor led class.We have found that the classes conducted by an instructor with a normal white board and marker has been more effective in enabling an average student to adopt than those learning processes where technology takes the centre-stage of teaching. Yes, the more comfortable a student gets to technology, higher in the technology adoption he moves to.

Individualised vs. Mass Customised Learning|
It has been proved beyond doubt that 1:1 faculty-student interaction is not possible even in a traditional classroom setting. But, technology can definitely help us scale up ‘Interaction’. By using Personalised Learning as described in above paragraph can help us look at needs of an individual student. However, we need to make sure that the student does not feel alone. He has to be part of a larger student community. This mode of interaction has worked very well among techies (Ex, Stackflow, Code Project etc) and it has multiple benefits for student community as well. It enables collaboration amongst the students and they learn more by teaching others. It also teaches them the art of networking amongst the peers. All these advantages can help them become a better professional in future. Periodically, faculty can pick up most difficult questions posted on the forum and solve them in the live class.

Our experience is that once we found the balance between the extremes, the adoption among average students have increased. We are reaching out to more than 1 lakhs students across 600 towns and 19 countries. To conclude, by putting the main beneficiary as ‘Student’ at the centre point of EdTech Innovation Ecosystem, better outcomes can be achieved 'right now'.

This article has been authored by Sridhar K, Chief Digital Officer, TalentSprint

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