By Pradeep Sureka
Students can now gain an experience in their niche before making a choice
Regarding what we teach, there has been a paradigm shift in the approach through the New Education Policy. Previously we used to teach fixed curricula at the school level, which could not determine the area of strength of the student at an early level. We thought a dab of learning in every subject was essential to build the foundation of students, but today we realise we need to minimise the foundation and maximise the specialisation and area of liking. Earlier, the student and his/her family had to find out the chosen stream, arts, commerce, science and then further specialisation through own judgement and partly through the teacher’s judgement. But this was usually after Class 10. Sometimes people choosing Pure Science in class 11 and 12, had to opt for Social Science or Commerce or Arts at the College level. Thus, it was by trial and error that people could find their area of strength, that too often very late. Today students have the option of choosing science or arts or commerce after class 8 and have the option of changing the same in class 9.
This implies that education has become an area of choice, an area of strength and an area of enjoyment. We are shifting from a mix of average and excellent performers to a group of excellent and good and very good performers. People can choose a wide variety of subjects, say Commercial Studies and Economics, Pure Science and Mathematics, Humanities and more and do good to excellent in their area of strength. Today we are in the process of churning out performers in varied areas, not necessarily engineering or medical graduates, but psychologists, literature specialists, music specialists, economists, communication specialists and so on and on. Yes, we are teaching what students like and are varied and helping students get into different career graphs each. It is not a fixed formula that either fits all or people are forced to fit into it. India is on the way to becoming a skilled nation and not a nation of unemployable generalists.
The need to reinvent the teaching model
Over the last two years, the entire education system in India, starting from K-12 to Higher education, has undergone a major overhaul in terms of operations. Thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic and its consequent phases of lockdowns, more than 35 crore students across 15 lakh schools, 1,028 universities, 41,901 colleges and 10,726 standalone institutes in our country were unable to attend classes during the initial phase of the nationwide lockdown. To bring an end to this distress, traditional teaching methods had to be revamped in no time and technology found its way into the system on a gigantic scale with the net result: educators started using technology in innovative ways to make learning a lot more interactive. After the initial hiccups, the integration of technology with education was relooked, redefined, and reshaped so that the learning process could continue even while schools were shut.
As every tough time awaits a new beginning, the education sector had experienced and experimented with the advent of newness. Since then, this newness has gotten so imbibed in the conventional education system, that it was recognized as the “new normal”. However, a new normal should not just imply the sole existence of online education and completely abolish the physical concept of schools and classrooms. In fact, the post-pandemic “new normal” era is characterized by the existence of both the traditional as well as the newness of online education amalgamated into the model of a hybrid education system to reap the benefits of both.
Technology has brought a revolution to the education sector
The concept of a hybrid learning education model is being gradually implemented in India. With hybrid learning in the spotlight, schools and other educational institutions are trying to adapt to the paradigm shift that will have a profound impact on the education ecosystem. Online mode of education that emerged after the pandemic took a backseat as things were returning to their usual tracks. Instead what was witnessed was a new model of choice between online and offline classes. Universities and schools after reopening after almost two years started to offer students the option of continuing with online classes and offline classes as well. Schools followed the same idea and now students from every age group have an insight into both modes of education. This phenomenon of choice is new and not something that the Indian education system had ever thought of. With the internet penetration rate estimated to reach above 55 per cent by the end of 2025 in India, the hybridisation of education is set to grow in the days ahead.
New Ed-tech technologies can change how education is perceived, delivered, and accessed. These technologies open a world of possibilities to people who want to take control of their education. Online learning tools are proliferating. Virtual reality gadgetry will change how we teach and learn today. AR and VR learning will be a boon for students with special needs. Through technology, students’ learning journeys get mapped, which helps them analyse their shortcomings as they begin constructing the fundamental concept of comprehending a subject. Until fundamentals are not understood correctly, moving forward and learning newer and more complex topics makes no sense for a student. However, with the help of technology, education becomes customised learning and each student can be at different points of the learning curve for the same subject. Once the differences are visible it would need a good teacher to bridge the gap and bring all the students to the same level. Only then will learners move forward on their learning journey.
Today technology allows us to trace each student’s learning journey and helps to take constructive and corrective measures to resolve the issues for each student. It helps to move students from mugging to understanding and also evaluate their understanding and not mugging through conventional and non-conventional methods. A deep diagnosis and understanding of the learner’s behaviour get accessed through Ed-Tech. Then accordingly, a recommendation for better learning helps the student finish and learn the subject or concept in detail. Then, the learner is introduced to newer concepts using interactive technologies to ensure that students build a deeper, faster, and better understanding of any concept or subject.
Importance of hybrid model of teaching
The present market valuation of the Indian EdTech industry is USD 2.8 billion and is expected to reach USD 10.4 billion by 2025. At present, there are 9,043 EdTech startups in India. However, in recent times there have been a lot of allegations regarding misrepresentation of deliverables and quality of content to students and their parents. As discontent rose, the Industry has taken appropriate action. It has adopted the hybrid model for better reaching out to students. A self-regulatory body called India Ed-Tech Consortium (IEC) has created a two-tier grievance redressal mechanism and has requested each member company to appoint a grievance redressal officer. And all grievances have been taken care of to date. We can look forward to better learning in the days ahead.
The author is president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce. Views are personal.