Towards Realizing Education For All

The changes in the learning landscape have called for an appraisal of the existing technology infrastructure.

The education sector in India has received a strong impetus to take on a digital avatar, with schools temporarily shut, the medium of knowledge transfer has shifted from chalk-and-board to virtual classes and online courses. With live lectures that enable participation of up to 100,000 students; extensive online libraries; and interactive assessments, online learning has safeguarded students from losing invaluable learning time. To ensure the sustainability of the emerging education model, schools and universities are using learning management systems, video conferencing, and other digital educational software to ensure teachers and students remain connected. Some of the online education platforms are also offering tablets and high capacity memory cards with pre-loaded educational content to ensure learning never stops for those without access to the Internet.  

These changes in the learning landscape have called for an appraisal of the existing technology infrastructure. After all, a healthy e-learning environment needs an efficient data infrastructure to enable a seamless, connected user experience. A recent Global Market Insights research report stated that the global eLearning market size is expected to exceed $375 billion by 2026. 

Data is at the core of digital education 

The shift from face-to-face teaching to online learning has not been without challenges. While virtual classes can be well-planned and engaging, learners can face issues when undertaking revisions or reviewing past lessons. Therefore, it becomes important to record video lessons and also store them for later reference.  

Also, instructors can use web tools to develop films, exercises, and other entertaining pedagogy to create innovative methodologies for teaching complex concepts. But how can all the digital content, interactions, and breakthroughs be utilized to help students realize their potential in a distance learning setting?  

The answer lies in establishing a reliable data infrastructure to capture, collate, store, and process these large volumes of data to glean insights into the effectiveness of learning programs. When combined with digital learning tools, monitoring technology, and data analysis, it can provide valuable information to teachers and pupils to tailor approaches to online learning for best results.  

Data storage solutions for EdTech  

As the volume of data generation grows in digital education, it is critical to understand the importance of storage infrastructure, which defines how the captured data is managed and archived. With improvements in Internet connectivity and endpoint connected devices – such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets – becoming more pocket-friendly, various IoT devices can be used to create and collect data in digital education. These developments are driving the need for high-performance and high-capacity storage solutions in e-learning.  

Cloud and edge computing technologies provide the scaffolding for using data to provide enhanced learning experiences. Even before the pandemic disrupted industries, many centres of learning were gradually shifting from on-premise IT infrastructure towards cloud storage solutions. In some cases, educational institutions with multiple branches have even tied up with cloud computing providers to restructure and centralize their locations. A recent Absolute Market Insights report states that a 25.4% CAGR growth in global cloud computing is expected in the higher education market by 2027 (compared to 2018 levels).  

Whether public, private, or hybrid, cloud storage solutions are fast turning into a ‘must-have’ for most educational institutions. It enables students to access their assignments as and when they want and virtually collaborates with peers on group assignments. Also, teachers can instantly upload learning material and resources irrespective of where they are located, while administrators can easily collaborate to maintain records and archived resources.  

Although the pandemic has accelerated the shift to cloud, it has also spurred the need for access to real-time and viable data without any latency issues, regardless of one’s geographical location. This is where edge computing is fast turning into a key driver for transforming the way data is being processed and delivered from millions of devices across the country. Edge computing ensures less pressure on the network, fewer latency issues, and better control over data flow.  

While cloud-based ERP systems are being used to evaluate learning experiences, schools should also consider deploying data on their on-premise storage infrastructure, as everything cannot be cloudified. In this regard, edge computing can be useful for analyzing students’ performance on a real-time basis and customize learning approaches likewise. 

In remote areas, however, live streaming classes over virtual platforms can be difficult. Here, educational institutions can record sessions on a storage device, such as SanDisk Dual Drive USB flash drives, and give these to students. This will enable students to move content between devices, such as from a smartphone to a tablet or PC or even a smart TV.  

Another solution could be to use pre-loaded microSDTM cards programmed with the syllabus to ensure continual learning. They allow students to jump back and forth between learning modules and for revision, in contrast, to live virtual classes. These storage solutions also help manage data efficiently and can provide a solution for data backup needs.   

Looking ahead 

As greater volumes of data are generated with the widespread usage of virtual platforms and advanced software, educational institutions will need to weigh in on storage innovations to find what is in the best interest of students. IoT endpoints, cloud and edge, provide a closely interconnected system whereby the flow of data and how it is processed between these three elements forms the very foundation for an effective and streamlined e-learning ecosystem. 

The future of digital learning is likely to rely on storage mechanisms to draw insights into students’ emotional state so that instructors can offer support in times of anxiety, stress, boredom, and so on. Data storage solutions will provide the scaffolding on which new-age education systems can be built and, ultimately, help in realizing the goal of bringing quality and equity in education. 

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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