Key Considerations For Value Capture From Edtech

Skill-based learning is gaining recognition to prepare children for the real world; to keep up with such expectations, edtech offerings need to include an integrated learning approach, where students can hone their social and soft skills, in addition to technical competencies

The past decade has seen an uptick in tech-enabled education, with an unprecedented rise in the last two years. The pandemic lockdowns disrupted the traditional education system and emphasised the role and possibilities of edtech. Today, there are significant opportunities in this landscape, with advanced technologies like AI guiding the approach to future learning. However, to ensure this booming industry can achieve its full potential it will be necessary to tackle some issues as well. 

Key considerations

Every industry has its challenges and edtech is no exception. What follows is a look at some headline factors pertinent to continued maturing and growth in this industry:  

Internet penetration: India has an internet penetration of 47 per cent, which is not as low as some other countries, but this masks the fact that most of the internet accessibility is limited to the urban population. There is still a considerable way to go in tier 2 and 3 cities as well as rural areas. Internet access is a pre-requisite for edtech and some programs and systems also need stable and reasonably fast broadband. So, the lack of reliable internet connectivity can severely hinder the adoption of Edtech in Indian schools. Clearly, government initiatives and policies will have to come into play, to ensure increased penetration across regions. In addition to the availability of the internet, its affordability is also key.  

Insufficient awareness: Currently, there appears to be a communication gap between providers and learners, which may be slowing adoption. Providers are trying to encourage the adoption of new learning technologies, but students and parents are still coping with the transition from the traditional learning system. As the above-mentioned report notes, it’s not a binary choice between online and classroom and blended learning can be a flexible, efficient alternative.  

Cost management: Inevitably, this is an important factor influencing the potential of edtech. Since the tech-landscape is constantly evolving and cutting-edge technologies might need significant investment, there can be a fear of a technology or platform becoming less relevant or even obsolete a few years later. Consequently, schools become more hesitant to make these kinds of investments. And due to underfunding, smart education in government schools in India is still far from current reality. Financing models and risk capital are available to support aspects of edtech and a combination of public and private finance may be key for future investment.

Training the trainer: Students are not the only ones who have to deal with a change in learning, teachers and educators too are now faced with a learning curve that requires them to understand how to use disruptive technologies. Incorporating technologies in the education system is only the first step. Teachers should have access to professional training where they are taught and guided in the usage of different tools and technologies that come into play in classrooms. And how to maximise quality of learning, not just scale and reach, with the technology. A plethora of new certifications, micro and short-term learning courses and experiences offer ways to upskill quickly and economically.  

Future proofing: In the traditional education system, test scores and grades were the markers of success. And often, a large part of a child’s learning was book-based or theory-based knowledge. Increasingly though, skill-based learning is gaining recognition to prepare children for the real world. To keep up with such expectations, edtech offerings need to include an integrated learning approach, where students can hone their social and soft skills, in addition to technical competencies. AI enabled adaptive learning, videos and engaging short-form content more generally can drive high levels of engagement and learning. Similarly, gamification and simulation are slowly but surely witnessing an uptick; educators could incorporate these for more interactive learning journeys.  

Edtech is exciting and full of new possibilities. The considerations outlined are ultimately opportunities to excel and succeed. Targeted government interventions coupled with a robust infrastructure and private sector innovation, can push edtech to new heights and in doing so, train the leaders of tomorrow.

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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