With the continued advances in technology, there’s an untapped opportunity to fix the education sector and bring marginalized learners into the fold. Education technology (edtech) is making an impact worldwide. In this article, we will explore – What is the need to standardize the digitization of education?’. However, it would be better if the focus is on offering some solutions to achieve it.
Globally, millions of people are missing out on educational opportunities. Research shows that in 2030, over 200 million children will still not have access to a classroom. In regions such as South Asia, which has countries like India and Bangladesh, the rate of out-of-school students is one of the highest in the world.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic affected over 240 million children in India, with 1.5 million schools closed until further notice. School disruption and the mental health effects of the virus are setting students back.
Despite almost 79% of the Indian population having a mobile phone, institutions are yet to leverage edtech tools to solve the problem of inequality in education.
The country’s large population could benefit from the enhanced instructional materials found in edtech platforms, such as learning management systems (LMS), which can improve the quality of courses and deliver a heightened experience to the students.
Challenges to implementing edtech in India
Although edtech empowers learners and bridges the accessibility gap in society, it faces several implementation challenges in India.
For example, using technology requires tech-savvy teachers. There may be a shortage of qualified educators, or they may need extra training for the job. Thus, investment in recruitment and training is essential when shifting to online courses.
People from low-income backgrounds often lack the resources and can’t access digital educational platforms. While mobile phone ownership is high, it’s still not at 100%. Plus, underprivileged students can’t afford smartphones or internet-enabled devices to view the course content.
Another concern is online access from a poor internet infrastructure. The current internet penetration rate is 45%, and this figure is short of the numbers needed to reach disenfranchised learners in the country.
Edtech can only succeed if the chosen online learning platform meets the needs of the students. The solution must be a responsive and adaptive LMS to deliver quality education. Such an LMS provides greater insights into a learner’s progress and struggles, which allows the teacher to engage and guide them to success at the right time. It also shows empathy for students from different backgrounds and with various disabilities.
Steps to deliver fair access to education
A few changes and the successful use of edtech can make a considerable difference to education access in India. Here are some of the vital components that will contribute to success:
Consider the diversity of the population
First, it’s crucial to recognize and understand the uniqueness and diversity of all the students. Each individual has specific needs and is living under unknown circumstances. Stakeholders must identify marginalized groups and address their issues.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) found that around 50% of adolescents in India don’t complete secondary education, and approximately 20 million children don’t go to preschool.
It is vital to research the population’s diverse nature and note the differences to create an equal learning experience for all. Then, customize and use online platforms that adapt learning methods and curricular needs to these variations, such as the Brightspace LMS platform by D2L, open-source Canvas & Moodle, Blackboard, Google Classroom, and more.
Traditional education leaves many students behind because it fails to address diversity, disability, and special needs. Edtech can also suffer a similar fate if implemented inconsistently.
Use a responsive design
India’s diverse population would struggle with a rigid online training platform. Some students might be unable to connect because the edtech solution is not compatible with their phones. Technology shouldn’t create accessibility challenges; instead, it should accommodate everyone by having a flexible, inclusive, and responsive design.
It means the ed-tech platform should offer a consistent learning experience irrespective of the learner’s device. In addition, it must deliver adaptive content to a person’s mobile device independent of its form factor, thereby removing some of the barriers to equal education.
Educating India using edtech
Education technology can uplift India’s large population and improve their schooling experiences. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (U.N.) in 2015 was to deliver fair and quality education by 2030. The nations agreed to ensure inclusive learning opportunities for everyone.
Thus, adopting edtech can reduce student number shortfalls and bring marginalized learners back into the fold. An LMS can boost school productivity, provide superior education, and reduce the achievement gap. Interactive and gamified tools in an LMS can keep scholars engaged and tailor the content as per the student’s needs.
Edtech can be used outside of traditional classrooms, so it also removes geographical barriers that may prevent students, particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds or those with disabilities, from attending school. The introduction of digital classrooms and online education has the potential to improve participation rates in schooling vastly.
The challenge for the Indian government is to form solid collaborations with edtech solutions providers and implement the right kind of policies to integrate digital systems into education. It must follow its National Education Policy (NEP) strategy to boost teacher training and develop a hybrid curriculum that works well with online lessons.
Edtech ensures consistency in learning by handling disruptions, for example, when a student falls sick. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a problem; however, an LMS can deliver consistent classes to students and allow teachers to complete grading remotely. Also, parents can aid their child’s progress by having access to the platform and tracking the student’s progress through the courses.
Authored By Mr. Prem Das Maheshwari Business Director South Asia D2L. By embracing edtech solutions, India will be on the right path to delivering equality of educational opportunities.
Dr. Prem Das Maheshwari has attained over 29 years of rich experience in various aspects of business development & channel management in both the international and national higher
education spaces. Having worked in the capacity of Managing Director, Director, and Vice President with leading U.S./Europe and Asia based international education groups and
multi-national companies, Visit D2L’s accessibility page to learn how the company supports customers in serving their members.