The traditional teaching in classrooms has always been a one-sided affair: teacher teaches, while there is no guarantee whether every student imbibes these teachings. Through this method the ability to measure the quality of learning is limited to year-end exams. Here in, one of the few references to participation/interaction would be the number of questions raised by students. Up until the dawn of the new century, this style of teaching was considered sacrosanct. And then, the social media revolution happened. Unlike a few decades back where children had to be forced to learn technology, we have overshot into a space where children have to be counselled out of gadget addictions. In fact, today’s youth has become far more adventurous about the applications of technology.
Owing to this fundamental change in learning, education remains one of the most exciting sectors in today’s times. While the world moves towards digital learning, teaching facilities are undergoing a massive overhaul. Ten years back, colleges like EDHEC Business School in developed countries had already started experimenting with tools like Blackboard to help students overcome this shift.
Let us look at some of the trends that are digitally transforming the field of education:
Internet of Things: With schools moving from a lone campus to a multicity multi-campus system, it is important for them to be connected well. Parents having a travelling job, are looking to send their children to study with schools that ensure seamless transition across different cities. This need for effortless communication and sharing of information can also be extended to various schools associated within a particular university. On a daily basis, IoT’s primary role is to ensure effective disbursal of information for parents, be it their child’s homework or last minute change in bus-drop schedule. Teachers can track the timestamp of Homework completion in order to analyse if student’s are using their time efficiently or sitting late at night to complete the same. Thus an effective application of IoT will ensure real-time communication, map student behaviour and also manage costs by reducing wastage of resources. Eg: EDHEC’s sprawling campus at Lille in France is effectively a ‘smart and green’ campus and helps save thousands of euros through applications of intelligent systems. Augmented Reality: Today’s teaching techniques are designed to increase interactions while encouraging collaboration. Augmented Reality along with Virtual Reality are applications of transformative and interactive technology that build upon student interests while providing teachers the liberty to devise real world inferences like animals, nature and machines within the classrooms. Even though Virtual Reality comes with a huge cost factor, Augmented Realities are relatively cheaper to apply. Thus the monotonous style of preaching theory has been replaced by a blend of practicality. This manages to ensure maximum participation within the classroom. Personalised / Customised Learning: One of the main evolution within today’s teachings is its flexibility to allow a student to be at the centre of learning. Blended or personalised learning empowers each student with the responsibility to learn on their own, often through self-discovery rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This approach in turn feeds onto the maturity of the students. It is a form of adaptive learning technology which while teaching a student, also learns about the student’s behaviour and provides real-time feedback and ways to course-correct for students. Thus students can use different ways whether art work, visual, kinesthetic or auditory to express their learnings. Big Data: As discussed earlier, the traditional teaching model hardly generated any data. This data was limited to the exam scores of students. However, with the shift to digital classrooms; data is generated almost through every action of the student. It is necessary to make sense of this data in order to optimise the usage of resources. Big Data can be utilised for better analysis and data management. In fact, Data Analytics as a field has been growing faster in the past few years. Thus, Big Data can form an essential foundation for implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. AI / ML: Today’s generation expects highly personalised solutions. These expectations are a result of an enriched techno-centric lifestyle. Thus, they not only expect to have adaptive learning experiences but also have the liberty to consume these experiences at a time of their liking. Infrastructure costs can be reduced through applications like Chatbots to answer administrative / orientation queries from students. This can effectively influence student retention rate. Through AI, self-evaluation of curriculum can ensure improved quality of teachings. Do note that the aim is to help optimise a teacher’s role rather than replacing them. Nilesh Gaikwad is Country Manager at EDHEC Business School.