A symbiotic relationship

What is the future of edtech platforms once schools reopen in India?

Published - November 28, 2020 05:29 pm IST

Ever since COVID-19-led restrictions were imposed in March, only two industries in principle — Healthcare and Edtech — have witnessed a rise in investment and venture capital. Most learning has gone digital and with practices like social distancing likely to stay, schools will be compelled to open in a staggered manner and have spaced attendance. Exam patterns will have to be rethought. Clearly, while digital learning and virtual schooling are here to stay, brick-and-mortar institutions cannot be done away with. School labs and practical lessons are not easily substituted. Teachers and interactive sessions will be required to discuss higher order thinking and applications of the concepts taught. Soft and social skills — a big part of the school experience — cannot be adequately replicated. Therefore, blended learning will have to be adapted.

Complementary environments

Edtech will be used to tackle the foundational levels in the Bloom’s Taxonomy (remember, understand and application phases), with the school stepping in to follow through on the others (analyse and evaluate, create and so on). Interestingly, Edtech is best suited for the peak level of create, giving students ample resources to inform themselves and providing portals for submission.

In the upcoming times, Edtech may complement the school environment. A study by McKinsey showed that administration, evaluation, preparation and feedback have the most potential for automation, with other interactive activities being relatively immune. Seen from the perspective of the learner, digital education tends to showcase a more ideal implementation of “Learning For All”. Students with differential learning capabilities can tailor the modules to their strengths and needs. The World Economic Forum suggested that online learning enhances retention by a significant amount largely due to the self-paced nature of this approach. Re-reading, review, skipping or accelerating and choosing preferred Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic (VARK) sensory modalities are USPs of any EdTech platform.

However, in countries like India, with a huge digital gap and large inequality in quality and quantity of tech available to students at home, schools will play a pivotal role. Making education available to those who cannot access it will be the responsibility of brick-and-mortar schools. Spaced school visits and interactions with teachers and counsellors will be needed to balance out the limitations of Edtech.

Schools need to move away from a video call-based system, and provide an ecosystem conducive for learning. This must include analytics (ensuring that students’ progress is being tracked), the modification of content to meet the differential learning needs, and the creation of a system that ensures that teachers are being monitored and continuously trained. Further, analytics will have to be mapped to Individual Education Programmes (IEPs) to help those who perform at a level different from which they study in, or have difficulty in understanding certain concepts.

Therefore, a symbiotic combination of the two will be the middle path for India. In the coming months, rules and regulations must be drafted to demarcate the roles of EdTech and schools.

The writer is Founder of EduBrisk Knowledge Solutions.

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