Prajodh Rajan is an education entrepreneur who enjoys an enviable reputation in the industry, for his pioneering efforts in early childhood education in the country, besides creating a fertile ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the education sector. He is responsible for guiding the strategic direction and growth of Lighthouse Learning (formerly EuroKids International Group). Under his leadership, EuroKids International Group grew from two Pre-Schools in 2001 to a network of 1,200+ Pre-Schools in over 360 cities. The Group also added over 38 K-12 schools across multiple brands in its journey till date.
The education sector has perceived a far-reaching change in the way it is divulged. With this abrupt shift away from the classroom in many parts of the world, some are speculating whether the adoption of online learning will continue to persist post-pandemic, and how such a shift would influence the education sector. Responding to the education sector, there has been a significant shift for students in terms of aspects which include webinars in the auditorium to virtual webinars, sports day in ground to running alone with your smart watches on, holding offline classes to checking on active internet to exhibit your presence and so on – things changed.
Who knew that one day physical textbooks would be replaced? One device can now store all your notes, presentations and white papers. Isn’t it easy to just wake up and switch your laptops on instead of waking up, getting ready, travelling and attending classes. The Covid-19 pandemic has augmented the pace of adoption of technical tools in the education sector. Digitalization proved to be the only bridge between educational institutions and students amidst this pandemic. Thus, digitalization is the new normal in the education sector.
With the Internet penetration rate to reach nearly 45% in 2021 from 4% in 2007, it is an indication that we are ready for the change in the education sector. It has changed the way of teaching as it enables to reach out to students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing, especially during this pandemic. I believe traditional offline learning and e-learning can go hand by hand. It is well said that every challenge is a new opportunity. Digitalization of education still holds itself as an important measure for the government. The acceleration in the number of enrollments in online courses proves to be a sign that learners have adopted to the new way of learning.
The future of learning would be seamless blend of physical classroom sessions and virtual learning. LMS (Learning Management Systems), Video Conferencing Solutions, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have made it possible to continue the learning process amidst the pandemic. In the long run though this would not only enhance the learning experience but also help individuals to learn at their own pace. The integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education.
The restriction of not imparting more than 20% of the degree online has been lifted to continue the learning as well as open new doors of learning for learners to upgrade their skill sets. Through National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, an initiative was taken by the government to bring in digitalization in the education sector thus, shaping the sector in accordance to the evolving demands. Universities, colleges and schools are training their human resources to adopt the change in imparting education to their students. This shift has helped students to gather insights from experts and grab the opportunity to enhance their skills in the area of their interest.
This technological innovation is not just limited to private players but also to government schools and colleges, which adopted this change to continue the learning. With online education being the last resort to keep the education ongoing, the students in rural areas are impacted the most. A large number of rural students do not have access to smart phones, laptops and desktop computers thus being dependent on the devices of their families. In long run the adoption of this model in rural areas would require support by the government in terms of internet, power supply, devices and trainings to teachers to impart quality education to students in rural areas.
Education 4.0 would be a path for students to follow to be future ready. They would attain the 21st century skills and learn more for conceptual clarity than just being limited to learning for exams. Though students as well as teachers are missing the in person experience, it is the combination of both physical classrooms and virtual classes that will hold the future of education sector.
In the digital era, the focus need not be only IQ but also EQ (Emotional quotient) and CQ (Creative quotient). The Edtech platforms work to prepare the students for the future by equipping them with the required skill sets such as logical reasoning, communications, creativity, critical thinking and confidence driving innovative thinking skills amongst them. The Ed-tech platforms have made it easy for students to learn any skill and that to from experts in the respective domains. New skills are just a few clicks away and you can learn them at your own pace. It not only teaches you what you want to learn but also tests your skills from what you have learned. Certification courses by top universities can now be attained in your comfort zone.
The establishment of various Ed-tech startups has added to the digital needs – making the process of attaining new skills innovative and interesting. These skills have not only supported millennials but also senior working professionals to upskill and reskill themselves according to their dynamic needs. A door of learning for all has been a great achievement enabling kids, students and working professionals to change as the pandemic demands. One key focus for us will be to build models for creating a personalized learning experience which will create engaged, self-motivated and independent learners for life.