Education, just like other areas of personal and business life, has seen rapid Technology adoption during the COVID lockdown, thanks to the rise in remote learning. As per a report by Venture Intelligence, the Edtech investments in India made a fourfold jump in 2020, from $409 million in the previous year, as the pandemic pushed users to online education. Further, as per the ‘EdTech in India’ report by Omidyar Network India and RedSeer Consulting, the Indian Ed-tech sector is expected to grow from USD 735 million market to an estimated USD 1.7 Billion, by the end of 2020, registering a 120% growth.
The above growth has largely been driven by rapid technology adoption by the Indian private schools, followed by supportive digital infrastructure and encouraging government policies. From a renewed NEP to push for modernisation of education at the grass root level with initiatives like RISE (Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education) to increasing number of edtech start-ups that are helping create innovations using emerging technology like Artificial intelligence (AI) and Robotics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR) and other forms of digital learning tools, catering to the entire spectrum of students and teachers ecosystem.
AR, VR and a combination of the two, often referred to as MR, has been remarkable in creating impactful transformation in learning, assisting students right from pre-school to high school. Some of the key applications/ roles of these technologies in education, can be highlighted as under:
- Immersive learning: AR and VR have been extensively instrumental in ‘gamification’ of learning techniques, by helping create content that is fun, exciting and extremely easy to understand and thus grasp. From basics of language and pronunciations, numbers and general knowledge for preschoolers to simplification of complex biology, chemistry, and advanced mathematics, AR and VR have found successful applications across sectors.
- Interactive and self-paced: Powered by the need for virtual learning, AR & VR moved rapidly from specialised learning labs in schools to easy mobile apps, during the lockdown when virtual classrooms and self-paced learning became the need of the hour. With cutting edge innovations by technology service providers, education technology leveraging VR and AR has become easy for both parents and students, as they can customise and focus on specific learning content either on their smartphones or on mobile apps. Apart from allowing one to watch and re-watch a lesson repeatedly to ensure proper understanding – something not possible in case of a physical classroom with chalk and board learning, VR and AR content is also interactive with real time feedback mechanism, making learning more efficient and retainable.
- Democratisation of content, and special learning for differently abled: AR and VR have been instrumental in curating specialised learning modules for differently abled children and have also been known to be effective for students with learning difficulties. From offering easy access to immersive, interactive, and self-paced content, new innovations in technology are also making it possible for content to be customised and shared in key regional/ non-English language, making it easier for students and parents who are not used to English as their first language. This unique democratisation of learning on the digital platforms, through these emerging tech solutions, is helping several differently abled, and students from rural areas, to gain access to knowledge more easily and abundantly.
- Enhanced teacher student engagement: Apart from the above mentioned benefits to students, AR and VR tech innovations in education are also helping enhance the student-teacher engagement, contrary to popular belief! With technology taking over the regular task of ‘sharing’ information, teachers are now free to engage in meaningful dialogue and conversations around the application, analysis and discussion on the knowledge imparted by the tech platform, thus enhancing their productivity and quality of engagement with students. Even as students benefit from value added insights, teachers are able to now explore more domains of interest where they can upgrade their knowledge and teaching skills, get accustomed to using various technology innovations and drive ‘thinking’ oriented approach to learning among children, vs the rush to complete syllabus.
According to ‘Virtual Classroom Market’ report published in February 2020 by the Market Data Forecast (MDF), the Global Virtual Classroom market is expected to reach USD 19.6 Billion by 2024, with an average CAGR of 16.24% during the period*. And with COVID and the wider adoption of virtual classrooms by not only the private schools but also select government education boards during these times, may play a major role in an accelerated growth of the segment.