New Delhi : ‘The pandemic has proven that ‘Necessity is the mother of adoption,’ said Ms Anju Sharma, IAS, Principal Secretary, Higher & Technical Education, Education Department, Government of Gujarat while outlining the role of technology in education at the CII Western Region Global Education Conclave. The conclave aimed to invite the best case studies from Global Universities and create a platform for knowledge sharing and cross collaborations between Industry and Academia – National and Global. Over 2 days, the conclave will address challenges like Quality, Cost, Inclusivity and Access of Education.
Ms Sharma said that the tremendous scale and cost benefits in technology has definitely helped in inclusion. She added that technology is proving to a kind of leveller between institutions since it is facilitating equal access to qualified speakers and superior content. She also revealed that online admissions of foreign students in universities in Gujarat have on an average doubled, which is attributed to technology. While she believes that online education is here to stay and improve with every day, she mentioned the same may not be suitable for skill development courses.
Dr Naushad Forbes, Past President-CII, and Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall in his address mentioned that excellence in universities can be seen in their faculty, students, administration, in their buildings and also in their water. He emphasized on the fact that technology can help the education sector achieve excellence in the areas of – Quality, Access, Equity. Dr Forbes said that the objective of education is not merely transmission but also ‘search for knowledge’ and for this requires close contact with teachers. He said that there is a need to combine physical with digital like for instance the best international facility could be combined with intense physical interactions. Dr Forbes also expressed concern that there may be a dropout situation in the online education system current pandemic especially in case of school children who have uneducated parents and hail from underprivileged.
Prof Ashok Misra, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore when speaking about online education expressed concerns on receptivity of students on the other end and also on the process of evaluation. However, he did mention that use of technology can ensure that knowledge is spread across a wider audience especially in cases where good faculty is not available. Prof Misra said that although blackboard has been replaced by a screen, teachers remain at the core of teaching.
Dr Gopichand Katragadda, Founder and CEO, Myelin Foundry said that some of the recent trends in education are here to stay even after the pandemic, however he did mention that he preferred a system that is 80% digital and 20% physical. He said that the ability to relearn is going to be vital as no single skill set can serve the purpose over the entire lifespan of an individual. The need to measure learning effectiveness will be very important. He said that India needs to reskill differently especially in the area of vocational training.
Mr Srinivas Sridharan, Associate Professor of Marketing, Monash University, Australia said that its universities have to catch up to the technology, while students are already there. While the ‘willingness’ to use technology is no longer an option today, the ability and motivation factor is more important. The educators need adequate training and they need to be convinced that technology helps solve problems immediately. This is vital considering that almost 80% of teachers’ time is spent in solving problems. Technology can elevate a teachers’ portfolio since content can remain on cloud and can be collated, curated complied into digestible pieces. This can be a motivation to teachers.