Recent findings by the United Nations Sustainable Development campaign has re-affirmed that there is a strong correlation between the quality of education and quality of life. In other words, a strong education system can lead the way to an overall improvement in a nation’s stability and prosperity.
However, the issue lies within the fact that today, there are approximately 260 children and adolescents worldwide that are out of school. Barriers to proper education impact economic growth, especially in large countries like India where approximately 247 million of the population are children and adolescents. In such a scenario, the key to a strong economy lies in identifying and diminishing the barriers to education. Factors such as inclusive teaching, adequate support, financial affordability, geographic reach and scalability play a part in affecting the quality of education across a nation.
Technology has the power to address almost all of these barriers and make education more accessible to most people, and by extension equipping them with the necessary skills to succeed in life.
According to Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, “investing in human capital is equivalent to an investment in productivity and prosperity of the nation.” In her opinion, education is the most fundamental resource that can add value to people and there is no better way to invest in human capital than integrating technology into education and ensuring equity and inclusion. The National Education Policy 2020 outlines a number of strategies to transform the education system. The thrust is to optimise and expand technology-based educational initiatives with equity and inclusion as the cornerstones.
Let’s take a look at how implementing technological solutions can eliminate some barriers:
Eliminating the achievement gap
Recent studies from UNICEF has found that 29 percent of students in India drop out of school before completing their full cycle of elementary education. This is primarily due to the lack of educational infrastructure, basic learning materials and qualified educators.
As for the students who are enrolled in the education system, a majority of them study in government schools, and only a small proportion eventually makes it to post-secondary education. Even then, many are not able to afford the professional programmes such as engineering and pharmacy, because of how they are only offered by the private sector. Technology offers cost-effective tools and economies of scale that can help bring education to the needy, despite financial disparities.
In an extensively large nation such as India, it is nearly impossible to build adequate institutions in every district. However, online learning technology can democratise education by bringing quality teaching to rural areas, thereby bridging the achievement gap between the public and private sectors.
Equal opportunities for all
Adding on, there are millions of children and youth living with disabilities and other constraints who often lag behind, being deprived of their fundamental right to education. Accessible educational technology and assistive tools can help students with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities to learn and achieve outcomes similar to students without disabilities.
Technology supports inclusive teaching methods like Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This affords personalisation, enabling students with diverse abilities and learning styles to be able to participate equally and learn according to their unique needs. By offering methods of learning to each student as relevant to their abilities, UDL help brings out the best in them.
Offering the opportunities that each student needs is essential to enable everyone to equitably achieve the outcomes they desire. With Edtech, the conventional classroom is no longer confined by brick and mortar; it becomes a global classroom, with equal opportunities for all.
Instant availability of resources
One of the core features of today’s technology is immediacy: getting immediate responses and instant assessment of your work.
Educators will be able to instant feedback and offer assistance to students. Furthermore, examinations and assessments and any other coursework are instantly available, allowing for quicker grading. On top of that, through automation software, some of the gradings can be programmed and automated, streamlining the teacher’s workload and allowing them to devote their attention into more valuable tasks.
In short, the instant availability of resources increases both teacher efficiency and learner productivity.
Implementing learning technologies centrally to cover several small schools and colleges can enable education to reach as many students as possible in and around them. Access through mobile devices and offline access to content help students who cannot afford laptops and steady internet connectivity.
Integrating LMS to reach every student
Learning management systems (LMS) such as D2L’s Brightspace platform provides an all-inclusive education platform that streamlines education for all.
From teachers, students and even to parents and other stakeholders, the learning process is made transparent and accessible to all. The ability to automate captions and grading, record lectures and provide instant resources undeniably helps to facilitate learning both inside and outside the classroom.
As such, new learning content is able to be seamlessly disseminated in an engaging way to those in the conventional classroom, and also those who cannot make it there. Regardless of one’s financial capabilities, geographic location, or learning abilities, all students will be able to access the course materials and have equal opportunities to succeed.
The Brightspace platform’s analytical tools, and other cutting-edge features differentiate it as an LMS that makes online and blended learning simple, flexible and efficient. From mobile phones to laptops to tablets, the platform supports all mobile devices. It also allows educators to easily create interesting course materials. Through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, course content will be tailored to enable competency-based education to suit each student. Furthermore, the Brightspace LMS platform is also created to be parent-friendly; meaning, parents will be able to remain involved in their children’s education and stay on top of their assessments, progress and performance at school.
To round off, accessible technology such as the Brightspace LMS platform enables inclusive teaching and promotes meritocracy in learning. By reaching every student and assisting them to be the best learners they possibly can be, education technology paves the way for a democratic learning system and allows students to be the best learners they can possibly be.
This article was first published in Brainfeed Higher Education Plus October 2020 | Volume III | Issue 7 (print) as ‘Online Education Market in India is set to Touch INR 360.3 Billion by 2024’.