2021: A Look Back at Insights and the Future of the Indian Education Sector

By Anish Srikrishna, Chief Executive Officer, Times Professional Learning

2021 has made technology-enabled education an integral part. Educational institutions should now adopt technology and redesign curricula to address post-pandemic skills and employability challenges.

2021 was in many ways a continuation of 2020: while the protracted battle against the pandemic continued, we have grown used to the heightened state of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) in which the global situation is. However, 2021 was also a year of learning for industries across the board that found ways to change and adapt to an ever-evolving scenario. This applies in particular to the education sector, which has managed to outgrow its traditional form and to introduce new technology-driven teaching and learning processes. This was not an easy transition as formation was one of the last frontiers to adapt to technology. How exactly did that happen? And what does that mean for the future of India’s 600 million young learners under 25?

The final push towards technology-based education

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The main challenge facing the education system in India has been reaching millions of inaccessible learners. The scale of the problem is too great to deal with, given the limited supply of qualified educators and educational institutions in the country. Because of a discrepancy between supply and demand, there is pure inequality in education. Compared to its peer countries like China and Brazil, India’s student-to-teacher ratio of 24: 1 is shockingly low. The problem has been exacerbated by the availability of very few top quality educational institutions that have a small cohort of highly qualified teachers and remain strongholds of elite education. However, today’s problems, be it climate change, poverty or gender inequality, require that everyone in the most remote areas can learn.

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The democratization of education can only be achieved through the use of the efficiency of technology, although teachers and learners had a conscious preference for personal teaching. It prevented the teaching-learning process from undergoing massive changes, although every other sector in India and the world continued to be subject to disruption and change from technology. With the pandemic, things have changed drastically, and all schools, colleges and colleges have forced sweeping changes overnight. Covid-19 thus acted as a powerful catalyst to instigate a change in mindset and, more importantly, it has ended the debate on whether technology-enabled education is optional.

The questions that we want to answer well into the second year of the pandemic are: How do we improve technology-based education, ensure that teachers deliver education effectively, and how learners gain further training through new online forms of education? The answer to these questions could lie in the use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things.

Use technology to deliver excellence in education

Author Clayton M. Christensen, in his iconic 2008 book, Disrupting Class, suggested transferring lessons to classrooms across the United States to maximize the impact of the few good teachers available. The debate about excellence, access and affordability in education is old and has intensified particularly in the age of ubiquitous connected devices. In the post-pandemic world, there is no longer any debate about using technology to solve problems in education; The debate has now shifted to how technology needs to be used to achieve greater efficiency and realistic learning outcomes.

The advent of AI has spawned several edtech innovations that contribute to higher student engagement and better learning outcomes in medium-sized businesses. With the amount of massive user data available to edtech companies, there are ways to enhance the virtual classroom experience so that it approximates the physical experience. Assuming strong privacy concerns are recognized, educators can use these tools to understand student engagement ratios and take corrective action. From simple automated questions and answers after class to AI tools that map learners’ eye movements across the screen, these tools are highly innovative and can enable a seamless virtual classroom. With many students entering the labor market in India, technical tools can ensure continuous development and improve the employability ratio for most of them.

Redesign education systems and align them with the real world

According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), over 10 million people lost their jobs as a result of the second Covid-19 wave in 2021.Education must be a way of solving this problem. We are in the age of Industry 4.0, in which AI, ML and robotics are touted as growth drivers. In order to prepare students and learners for this high-tech world, we therefore need educational systems that use synchronous and asynchronous methods via digital platforms and video-based learning. With systems like this, learning can be accessible, fun, and collaborative for learners in order to be sustainable.

Education needs to be holistic and continuous as learning and employment should go hand in hand to promote agility and adaptability while preparing for uncertainty. In addition, discipline-based education must also be geared towards competency-based education. Rather than offering wide-ranging theory-based programs, educational institutions need to recognize the problems and challenges of our world today. You should establish programs to help students specialize in solving these problems.

Times Professional Learning’s (TPL) offers several programs in different disciplines and at different stages of a learner’s life cycle. It offers educational programs for young professionals, professionals and executives at management level to ensure lifelong learning and the opportunity for further training and retraining. It also offers guaranteed employability programs and an “income-sharing” format to pay fees for select courses where internship placement candidates make payments. TPL’s premium offers in the BFSI area include Post Graduate Diploma in Banking Management (PGDBM), Post Graduate Diploma in Banking Management (Extended Learning) [PGDBM (XL)], and Post Graduate Diploma in Sales and Relationship Banking (PGDSRB).

Also, given the huge demand for skills like supply chain management and logistics expertise during the pandemic, TPL has offered industry specific programs ranging from shipping and logistics to transportation and utilities, etc. TPL develops its programs to equip participants with the skills required to thrive in an increasingly globalized and high-tech business environment. It also offers several courses in higher-level programs such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Full Stack Web Development, and Coding, among others.

Disclaimer: Content produced by Times Professional Learning (TPL)

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