In a non-digital world, time is fixed, learning is variable. In a digital world, learning is fixed and time is variable.
Digital technology is replacing educational methods by the day. Reading, writing and maths are the three pillars of education, and the fourth pillar in the 21st century is digital literacy. This disruption is creating a fraternity called digital citizens, where students use technology to learn.
In a non-digital environment, especially in education sector, time is fixed and learning is variable. This is well-known, yet the blame is often on quality of teachers or lack of learning. However, artificial intelligence can enable personalised learning where learning is fixed and time is variable, resulting in self-paced learning. For example, Pearson has launched MyPedia Reader, a collection of stories written by kids. It invites kids to write and submit stories, and a chance to have them published. It results in personalised learning since it is told from a child’s viewpoint and perspective, fosters creativity and imagination, and is easy to relate to.
Connecting rural to urban India: By leveraging technology, a digital curriculum will make education ubiquitous for children across India. It will help connect teachers with students in rural areas, where teacher-to-student ratio is low, and bring children from rural areas at par what those from urban areas. This is reinforced by the fact that there is no loss of transmission in learning process through technology, thus ensuring seamless transition.
The importance of computers: An emerging area is the use of augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR) to create immersive learning experience. Using AR, educators can add experience to learning through “show and tell” rather than a traditional textbook approach. Students can get immersed to learn things in a simulated way. For example, rather than using images and text to teach the function of a heart, AR and VR can be used to show a virtual heart—students can see each part, explore its exterior and interior. This also enables collaboration between a group of students, enhances critical thinking, helps students discover things at their own pace, and increases knowledge retention.
Therefore, we must make computer programming and languages mandatory, just like other languages such as English and Hindi. Traditional lectures will still exist, but these must be reinforced with new-age learning tools, powered by a digital curriculum—students will be able to learn at their own pace, and educators will be able to cut costs, maximise resources.
Ujjwal Singh is vice-president, Product & Innovation, Emerging Markets, Pearson Education. Views are personal