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What is Ed-Tech?Does India need a new policy for Educational Technology

What is Ed-Tech?Does India need a new policy for Educational Technology

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  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice|| Human Development || Education

Why Is the issue?

  • India’s school education landscape is facing daunting challenges.
  • India was already reeling under an acute learning crisis, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, with one in two children lacking basic reading proficiency at the age of 10.
  • The pandemic threatens to exacerbate this crisis, especially because of the physical closure of 15.5 lakh schools that has affected more than 248 million students for over a year.

Why has Ed-Tech become popular?

  • Since the onset of the pandemic, online education has replaced conventional classroom instruction. This has spawned several EdTech apps which are now becoming popular.
  • schools and colleges moved their content delivery, engagement, and evaluation from offline to online to ensure minimal academic disruption.
  • The EdTech apps have the advantage of being able to customize learning to every student in the system.

Why there is a need to integrate technology into education.

  • As traditional brick-and-mortar service delivery models are disrupted across industries, the pandemic serves as a critical, yet stark, a reminder of the impending need to integrate technology into education.
  • India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 responds to the urgent call to integrate technology at all levels of education. It envisions the formation of an autonomous body, the National Education Technology Forum (NETF), to lead efforts to provide a strategic thrust to technology deployment and use.
  • India is well-positioned to take this step forward by increasing access to tech-based infrastructure, electricity, and affordable internet connectivity, fueled by flagship programs such as Digital India and initiatives from the Ministry of Education, such as
    • DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for School Education), an open-source learning platform
    • UDISE+ – one of the world’s largest education management information systems.
  • Four key elements must be prioritized in a comprehensive ed-tech policy architecture.
    • facilitating access to education, particularly for underserved groups;
    • Facilitating teaching, learning, and evaluation processes;
    • facilitating teacher education and professional development;
    • Improving governance systems, including processes for planning, management, and monitoring.

Concerns

  • First and foremost, technology is a tool, not a panacea.
  • Second, technology must be used to support the learning model. It is risky to provide digital infrastructure without a plan for how it will be deployed or what teaching-learning approaches it will support.
  • Third, technology cannot substitute for or replace schools or teachers. The solution is not “teachers versus technology,” butteachers and technology.” Technology solutions have an impact only when teachers embrace and effectively use them.
  • Fourthly,the digital divide is a big problem for students living in slums and remote villages, with poorly-educated parents further strained by the lockdown.

Concerns that need an address

  • Immediate resolutions
    • In the short term, there must be a mechanism in place to thoroughly map the ed-tech landscape, particularly its scale, reach, and impact.
    • Access, equity, infrastructure, governance, and quality-related outcomes and challenges for teachers and students should be prioritized.
  • Short to medium term solutions
    • Policy formulation and planning must strive to enable convergence across schemes (education, skills, digital governance, and finance), foster integration of solutions through public-private partnerships, consider the voices of all stakeholders, and strengthen cooperative federalism across all levels of government.
  • Long-term
    • A repository of best-in-class technology solutions, best practices, and lessons learned from successful implementation is required. Such learning can be facilitated and amplified by the NITI Aayog’s India Knowledge Hub and the Ministry of Education’s DIKSHA and ShaGun platforms.
  • Addressing the digital divide
    • Special attention must be paid to address the digital divide at two levels access and skills to effectively use technology.

Several examples of grassroots innovation

  • Arunachal Pradesh-The Hamara Vidhyalaya in Namsai district, Arunachal Pradesh, is fostering tech-based performance assessments;
  • Assam- Assam’s online career guidance portal is strengthening school-to-work and higher-education transition for students in grades 9 to 12.
  • Jharkhand-Jharkhand’s DigiSATH is spearheading behavior change by establishing stronger parent-teacher-student linkages.
  • Kerala- Kerala’s Aksharavriksham initiative is focusing on digital “edutainment” to support learning and skill development via games and activities.
  • Gujarat- Samarth in Gujarat is facilitating the online professional development of lakhs of teachers in collaboration with IIM-Ahmedabad.
  • HP-Himachal Pradesh’s HarGhar Pathshala is providing digital education for children with special needs.

Way forward

  • EdTech companies would have to be encouraged to comply in the interest of a healthier learning ecosystem.
  • India needs to take a leap forward & turn this Covid-19 pandemic into an opportunity.
  • India needs to coalesce this learning crisis with Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • There is ever-increasing access to tech-based infrastructure, electricity, and affordable internet connectivity in India which needs to be harnessed.
  • A comprehensive ed-tech policy architecture is needed in India with a focus on.

Conclusion

  • With NEP 2020 having set the ball rolling, a transformative ed-tech policy architecture is the need of the hour to effectively maximize student learning.
  • The focus should be on access, equity, infrastructure, governance, and quality-related outcomes and challenges for teachers and students.

Mains model question

  • Digital innovations are reorganizing education in ways that make access much more inequitable. Discuss the difficulties associated with the use of online education? Suggestions for dealing with these challenges are welcome.”

References