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J Ramkumar

Significant growth in adoption of technology in the education sector was a reality much before the COVID-19 pandemic, with worldwide investments in education-technology (ed tech) surpassing USD 18 billion in 2019. When schools all over the world had to be closed because of COVID-19, academic schedules for over 1.2 billion students were disrupted. However, many institutions bounced back on time, thanks to tech experts who thought on their feet to tweak existing ed tech to facilitate remote learning frameworks with due resilience and flexibility.

This transition has fast forwarded digital adoption by schools and universities as well as heralded a general attitude change to shift from offline to online learning. We are at an inflection point of driving both enhanced agility and greater resilience into education models globally, enabling learning continuity in the event of force majeure incidents and general improvement of educational standards.

This new paradigm has hastened the expansion of institutions and e-learning for competitive unique value propositions. More organizations in the education space are embracing digital tech to help them scale up their range of offerings across touchpoints in the process, right from pitching for admission and orientation to completing courses and awarding certifications.

Leveraging technology every step of the way

All academic pursuits begin with admissions, and educational institutions need to pitch their unique value propositions to maintain a healthy enrolment to admission ratio that has a bearing on their revenues. Successful organizations will be those that achieve their target enrolment ratio by driving home the promise of a superior experience for students. Universities can achieve this by harnessing the limitless potential of sophisticated digital technologies to innovate and expand their offerings to include blended teaching and self-paced learning models with integrated simulation elements.

Actualizing blended learning through digital solutions

Recent studies[1] point that students who learn online retain 25-60% more information while those who learn in a classroom retain only 8-10%. This advantage is attributed to factors such as technology-enabled personalization of learning that allows students to study at their own pace, among other things; they can now choose to go back and re-read, skip, or skim through subjects as desired.

Fact remains that conventional classroom-based schooling methods have their own manifested benefits such as the multisensory approach, and peer modeling elements; e-learning can compensate for the missing attributes through immersive learning experiences powered by augmented reality and virtual reality (AR-VR), and integrated learning platforms with collaborative tools such as blogs, quizzes, assignments, chats, surveys, and peer to peer learning communities.

Ultimately, the tectonic shift to remote teaching is steadily nudging educational institutions to be future-ready with digital platforms that support both synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning methods. Simultaneously, there is also a growing need for adopting evolved, transparent assessment techniques to validate the effectiveness of these novel approaches to learning.

The saving grace of technology in upholding credibility

One challenging aspect of online education is tied to the stringency and credibility of assessment and grading techniques deployed by schools, universities, and other platforms that have shifted to e-learning. These critical success factors ensure timely delivery of academic programmes. Moreover, they also ensure that students have nothing to compromise in the process of e-learning.

Advanced digital technology platforms can help institutions close this gap by facilitating a mix of assessment methods such as pen and paper, computer-based, OMR, and hands-on modes of examination. Digital solutions have evolved to support schools in administering and conducting secure remote examinations in both proctored and non-proctored modes. Such solutions can also help institutions enforce diligent cybersecurity protocols to prevent and foil potential breaches in the process.

Smart solutions are also transforming the subsequent post-assessment processes such as evaluation, grading, publication of results, and student promotions. With artificial intelligence (AI) driven platforms, integrated with a multitude of evaluation modes such as key-based, on-screen human marking, image-based, and algorithm-based assessment techniques, educational institutions can improve accuracy and achieve timely closures at once.

The imperative to get smart and stay relevant

The global education technology market is burgeoning, and is predicted to reach a staggering USD 241.58 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.34% by 2026. Growing opportunities also imply increased competition. Educational institutions should gear up to analyze and reorient their operating models along the lines of smart technology to stay relevant and successful.

Players in the education sector should evaluate if they have the required digital technology backbone, and whether the key stakeholders involved are adequately trained to leverage the advanced technology and tools at hand. Asking relevant questions about the scalability of their technology, and the maturity of their cybersecurity frameworks will help institutions competitively improve and deliver positive experiences to intended users beyond the confines of place and time.

For more information, Visit Education Business Unit Page 

About the author

J Ramkumar
Ramkumar is part of the Education business unit at TCS. He has over 23 years of corporate experience and has held various product and business roles in organizations such as Reliance Industries and State Bank of India prior to joining TCS. He has deep expertise in business, product strategy, and deployment. He also has extensive experience in managing large and strategic engagements. Prior to the current role, he led the higher education segment for TCS iONTM.
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