Edtech for the Younglings: Building the right foundation

Children by nature are curious, wanting to learn about the things around them, their head is full of so many questions which are either hushed up by those they seek answers from or as a substitute they’re sent off to schools which like the classroom walls limit their imagination. In India, the situation seems to be particularly dismal where students face a great deficit of quality education because of a slew of reasons, the socio-economic restrictions of a vast majority of learners, regional disparities, lack of good infrastructure, ill-qualified teachers, over populated classrooms compromising with the quality for more attendance. The mediocrity of the Indian Education system stifles the curiosity in children and we witness so many child prodigies become under-achievers. The joy of learning is lost in the process, and it is like a routine they are put through, and it beats the whole purpose of setting up an institution for education.

What if the children didn’t have to be confined to just classroom learning, what if they could learn from anywhere they like to be, be in the park, a sofa, under the shade of a tree, while eating, playing video games or taking a dump! That’s where the idea of Education Technology seems like the missing piece of the puzzle. It has gained momentum world over and we have to see how it can fit in the Indian context with our own set of indigenous problems.

The earliest innovations in edtech were concerned with equipping classrooms with multimedia based study material, and having computers and screens in classrooms where audio-visual material can be used to teach. But we’ve come a long way since then and although the projector technology is still prevalent in most schools across India, there’s definitely a better alternative that has come with internet connectivity. Edtech has picked up momentum in India mostly in the MOOCs and Test preparation category and we’ve seen offline coaching providers heeding the call of change and going online like Byju’s. But here we’ll focus on the how it can change the conservative schooling experience of children by supplementing it with more active programs which keep children engaged in learning even after school.

The benefits are so good and so many to be overlooked.

  • Accessibility: By putting everything in the cloud, and with the rapid expansion of the internet, edtech makes top quality education accessible to anyone regardless of which region they belong to, a rural kid would not have access to the same content as a metro kid.
  • Adaptability: Every child comes with a different aptitude for learning; the caliber differs from learner to learner. The biggest flaw with the traditional way is that it expects all the students to learn at the same rate, there’s no discrimination. The slow learners get demoralized and may turn diffident; the quick one might become complacent. Edtech solves this by customizing the content as per the child’s needs and capabilities and build from thereon.
  • Assessment: One can easily track the progress of a child from the data collected from the platform. They can find the child’s weaknesses and strengths and then personalize the content to improve where she is lagging and advance what she has a knack for.

Engagement: Holding a child’s attention can be a task. But if you make learning more contextual, visual and not just theoretical, you make it interesting. Gamification reducing the drudgery of studying and distraction by embedding lessons in a game. And the reward of badges, stars and accolades won at each level will make the child want to keep on learning, building a habit of autonomous learning.

  • Bridging the gap: A few startups are also catering to the rural segment and are building products in the regional languages with a focus to help government school education system. If good teachers are enabled to create courses that can be used by other teachers elsewhere, the problem of mediocre content would be solved.

Edtech can reform education system by bringing in more creativity, collaboration, flexibility and inclusiveness with it. It already has grown in this direction and a number of edtech startups have mushroomed all over engaging millions of learners and getting the support from the finance world. The market is ready, the investments show that the experts believe there is an opportunity in this field. We keep getting news about one or the other startup managed to raise funds in millions only proves that the trajectory of growth is set. We need to leverage it to upgrade our education at par with the world standards and be leaders in education soon, setting an example before the world, just like we had ages ago. India has over 250 million students in schools and Mobile data traffic will reach 1.7 exabytes per month in 2020. The country’s mobile traffic will be 31% of total IP traffic in 2020. We can tap that to join the dots between these two and surge with the waves of development in its truest sense.

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