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Lokesh Mehra

Lokesh Mehra, Director, Millionlights.

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5 Themes in Education that Impacted the Industry in 2017

The proliferation of internet connectivity will be the harbinger of education technology and catalyze the Indian education landscape in the coming few years and we are bound to see exciting times ahead.

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Photo Credit : ShutterStock,

This past year has been quite the roller coaster ride in the education sector with higher education leaders having faced numerous challenges. Besides being asked to justify the relevance and ROI of higher education encompassing elements from flipped classrooms, multilingual learning, faculty professional development and students landing with jobs, the education sector is being pushed to stay ahead of the technology curve. Education apps are being built to learn content, distribute lesson plans, scholarships, collaborate with peers and faculty as well earn online certifications. The India e-learning market touched almost USD 11 Billion in 2016 with a CAGR of 17%. Some trends that we have witnessed include gamification, personalized and adaptive learning, online secure infrastructure, knowledge networks and virtual simulated practice environments.

Let us double click on some of these trends that ruled the roost this year

Personalized learning: Bundling content in a specific learning environment that meets the individual student’s needs is in short personalized learning. The whole experience is tailored to learning preferences and the specific interests of the learner and generally delivered through Online and micro learning. Given the paucity of time ‘just-in-time content’ or ‘bite sized content’ is liked by the millennials since its easily digestible and that a learner can use it to brush up on a skill before completing a task. For instance, a software professional implementing a new code or a health professional undertaking a new procedure or an automobile service technician repairing a new model, etc. Online learning (envisaged to grow 8x by 2022 as per the recent Google/KPMG report) and especially MOOC’s (Massive Online Open Courses) have been found to be extremely beneficial for people who have faced obstacles in pursuing education due to lack of funds, time, opportunities or accessibility. MOOC’s are replacing the standard corporate Face to Face Training programs as they don’t confront issues of faculty shortage, affordability or distance and help in ROI due to a reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). At Millionlights (www.millionlights.org), we have seen a surge of newbies and IT professionals wanting to upskill and reskill themselves in new domains like data science and machine learning.

Cloud leading the way: With clear advantages of being cheaper, faster and green, cloud computing is no longer a hype. With negligible infrastructure investments, the best of class software and no management headaches, majority of the institutions have started to leverage cloud for e-mail, collaboration, scheduling/calendaring and basic services and scale beyond single campuses to multiple ones. Reducing CAPEX costs drastically and with minimal OPEX, institutes have been able to respond quickly to peak demands during exams, admissions and draw a fine balance between on-premise and cloud services. MHRD too through its NMEICT project has provided good connectivity to all large universities with online journals access (e-ShodhSindhu).

Safeguarding PII (Personal Identifiable Information): With the roll out of Digital India, Core Banking, Aadhar and proliferation of mobiles, the average newspaper carries a minimum of 2 daily Incidents of Internet banking scams, ATM and Credit Card frauds. Irrespective of the device form factor - desktop PCs, laptops, tablets or mobiles are often more vulnerable when connected to the Internet via an affected email, browsing a compromised website or opening an unknown file on a removable storage media. Especially young students without realizing the impact of social engineering have been leaving digital footprints across their browsing history. Cyber attackers seek the path of least resistance by simply luring an individual into clicking on an infected link, a shortened URL to begin an attack. Education institutions too have not been spared from these Malware (software that has been written and distributed deliberately to damage/disable/take control of/steal information from a computer system).  This year forward looking institutions have already taken precautions of using layered protection at the endpoint to detect and remediate advanced threats across control points, ensuring updated software, limiting the use of networked devices and finally educating all stakeholders. Protecting Data security has become a critical element to avoid losing data and reputation besides the financial damage and emotional distress and overall risk.

Gamification, Simulations & Digital Badging - a good portion of the apps on your phone use gamification as a technique to keep you hooked (notifications, points, rewards, etc.). We are witnessing a boom in Gamification and simulations that have led to enhanced problem solving, critical thinking skills via collaboration and experimentation. The outcome - a credentialing system aka badging measures the participants actual capability i.e. achievement or recognition. It’s a form of granting certification for candidates undertaking formal and informal learning in the form of microcredits that have assessed learned skills based on outcomes. Majority of the corporate employees post these digital badges on Social Media sites like Linkedin. At a last count, the 3000 odd engineering colleges witnessed almost 100 hackathons including the mega AICTE national one. Bug bounties run by several corporates and their phenomenal success is attributed to the game like active participation, built in incentives and interaction which attract the interest and attention of learners. Regional and National rounds saw the emergence of leaderboards (listings of high achievers) for building motivation and introducing a competitive element. Similarly, MBA program games and simulations such as for stock markets and strategic decision making have become extremely popular.  

Leveraging Learning Analytics: With the emergence of increasingly robust connectivity infrastructure and cheaper computing power, institutions are honing their ability to provide learning opportunities to students “anytime, anywhere” leading to peer to peer and self-paced, deeper learning. The advances in low cost computing power has made it possible for a machine to learn over millions of interaction inputs and predict student errors. This ‘artificial intelligence’, to generate trends and projections with the collected data on student outcomes is used to generate actionable insights into classroom and course level activities, enhancing overall efficiencies.  

The proliferation of internet connectivity will be the harbinger of education technology and catalyze the Indian education landscape in the coming few years and we are bound to see exciting times ahead.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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