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Smart classroom: Opening windows to the world

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Published: June 15, 2015 12:03:25 AM

Technology has touched not one but every single vertical the world operates in. It has made us smarter, accessible to greater extents...

Technology has touched not one but every single vertical the world operates in. It has made us smarter, accessible to greater extents of information and has transformed the way we perceive. The number of budding innovators that the world has seen in the recent past is beyond anyone’s belief and technology has an integral part to play in this development.

To essentially support the geniuses of tomorrow, the world of education has also transformed with time. Education today is not restricted to the four walls of the classrooms of yesteryears where the exchange of ideas was restricted to the typically recommended books and hard-coded courses.

The 21st century has necessitated utilisation of the largest reservoir of information—the World Wide Web; thus creating an ecosystem of opinions, beliefs and considerations of what we know as modern education. Since every speck and particle now exists in a huge cloud called the internet, why not consider an amalgamation of cloud sourcing and technology with our educational system? Why not make classrooms ‘smarter’?

Since the concept of digital is now introduced to us, anyone, anywhere across the globe can access, gain and share the learnings and experiences across the three-billion internet users who are also constantly adding their bits to the information pool. The platform that digital infrastructure provides, in turn, creates an ecosystem of constant sharing and absorbing of information where the roles of the learner and the educator are interchangeable. This paradigm shift has laid down the foundation of a model known as the smart classroom. Books have changed to e-books, personal computers to tablets, blackboard to a whiteboard which is connected to a projector, and 2D to 3D learning.

Smart classrooms have to be inclusive of both traditional and contemporary methods of learning, where technology-enhanced classrooms foster opportunities for teaching and learning by integrating computers, specialised software, audience response technology, assistive listening devices, networking and audio-visual capabilities. Rich multimedia material for student makes smart classroom more cooperative and interesting. Its basic constituents are a personal computer, a projector and an interactive whiteboard. With this impression, a class can now virtually elucidate a simple chemical reaction between two compounds via YouTube, the geography of rivers can be understood through Google Maps and lectures presented via Skype, which saves time and avoids hardships of travel.

Today, many universities and educational institutions provide global programmes riding on the back of these technologies, making it possible for people from different parts of the world, sitting in different time zones, be able to access content at the same time. We see classrooms fitted with short throw and ultra-short throw projector making space constraints obsolete. While on the other hand, the technological developments in the field of projectors also have helped universities to be able to make a huge number of students sit for sessions at the same time.

Today, the art of educating in smart classrooms is happening more through screens—be it television, laptop or films. Basis the promise that the industry shows, a wide variety of companies have started investing in this direction—anti-glare screens, projectors, interactive whiteboards, video access, learning capsules: you name it and the industry is getting more and more robust. Not only that, through actively getting involved in the workings of how education is imparted, companies are also experimenting and pushing the boundaries to come up with futuristic technologies such as Pointwrite, interactive flat panel with multiple touch points, etc, which are going to revolutionise the way ahead. Of the around 1.4 million schools in the country, the addressable market for smart classrooms is about 200,000 private unaided schools. In fact, these private unaided schools will convert to approximately 2 million classrooms. Hence, highlighting the huge market scope and landscape for interactive learning is huge in India.

The adoption of smart classrooms in India is mainly driven by the requirement to improve the standard of education in the country and make it on par with the global standards. In fact, according to a private analyst firm, the smart classroom market in India will witness a growth of a CAGR of 15.89% till 2019. Currently, more than 12,000 schools across 560 districts in India have adopted smart class. The conventional blackboard has made way for digital equipment, making the learning process not just more colourful but also more interesting. This system has partly put an end to mugging of lessons and jotting notes.

The government has also allocated R500 crore ($81.38 million) for digitisation of the classroom in the Union Budget which surely ups the expected growth trajectory exponentially. Consider that 13-million-plus schools, 650 universities, both private and public, are exposed to a system where they can gain insights about anything at the tip of their fingers and imagine the positive implications that it promises, especially keeping the vision of ‘education for all’ in perspective.

The author is managing director, BenQ India

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