EdTech: A force for good and defining role it has in inspiring a whole new generation

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Students today are growing up with technology. The kids born in this decade are ‘digital natives’, meaning they will understand and use technology in substantially better ways than the older ‘digital immigrant’ generations. In fact, the fundamental change in the way young people communicate, create, and learn has already begun. This shift is most evident in a sector that has traditionally been slow in adopting modern trends. Education has not merely been touched by technology but is being transformed by it.

This is not to suggest that we can predict the exact future of learning. At the very least though, the last two years have given us glimpses into how students, schools, teachers and parents can use technology to enhance learning without the constraints of space and time. We saw millions of students move to remote learning overnight during the pandemic. Thanks to this sudden large-scale trial, we know today that it’s possible to incorporate multiple modes of delivery in education. We can leverage technology to create a more equitable and empowering learning environment inside and outside the classroom. The tech-enabled teacher can simply look at her dashboard to know how each student is performing without calling out individual names. Every teacher today can become their own data scientist. This is the beginning of the end of the long era of one-size-fits-all education that promotes fact retention over comprehension.

Education technology, or EdTech, has barely scratched the surface of its disruptive potential. There are many emerging technologies that may shape the future of education in ways we can’t imagine now. When applied seamlessly to education, they will facilitate ‘learning by living it.’ For example, augmented reality (AR) can take a student to remote historical sites without ever leaving the classroom. Virtual reality (VR) will allow students to not just see their customized virtual environment but also interact with it. The student is not alone in these virtual field trips. The teacher can teleport into this immersive world and guide the students through her expertise and experience.  Such a teacher will no longer be a ‘lecturer’ but a facilitator of learning. 3D printing will bring learning from computer screens into students’ hands.

Technology will gradually end the relative isolation of the traditional classroom where a student only gets to interact with other students of her class. Today, it is possible for a student from rural India to share what she is learning with another student from a metro city while taking a virtual trip to the North Pole together. Technology has improved cooperation among students from diverse groups, and it will help create a large pool of global citizens. Tech tools provide more and better learning opportunities to students with disabilities. However, much more needs to be done in India to make tech accessible and inclusive.

EdTech has gained great traction recently even as its use cases have become continually diverse. Having experienced its transformative power since 2020, school administrators are today willing to experiment with more EdTech tools than they would have in 2019. Schools across India are implementing technology as an enabler in the spirit of the National Education Policy 2020. EdTech will play a defining role in inspiring a whole new generation to innovate and change India. When we give our students the learning path that is most suitable for them, we allow each of them to shine their brightest. Indeed, the future of education technology is bright. But that future, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, depends on what we do today. Let us, therefore, begin.

The author is Chair, FICCI Edtech Taskforce and Co-founder, BYJU’S. Views are personal.

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EdTech: A force for good and defining role it has in inspiring a whole new generation
EdTech: A force for good and defining role it has in inspiring a whole new generation
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