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Education 4.0-EdTech & the future of learning

While the Europeans, Chinese and Japanese populations are rapidly ageing, India enjoys a huge demographic dividend. India, however, faces a huge hurdle in making the most of its demographic dividend because of the skills deficit of its educated youth. Historically, such a young population joining the workforce has led to massive economic growth in countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Singapore. According to employers and various studies, 65-75% of them are unemployable because they lack the basic skills needed in a rapidly-changing job market. While several factors are responsible, the primary one is the shortcomings in our educational system. The macro-economic impact of this high unemployability quotient is huge. The fear of technology disrupting labour markets has existed ever since steam-powered machines emerged during the first industrial revolution two-and-a-half centuries ago.

The New Education Policy announced by the Indian government last year – the first comprehensive policy in over 3 decades rightly focuses on several measures to bridge this skills gap. But this is not a task for the publicly-funded education sector alone. The private sector will have a tremendous role to play. The role of the private sector education in facilitating industrial growth can be best illustrated through the development of the IT industry.

This relationship has turned symbiotic as technology now comes to the aid of education. EdTech (education powered by technology) has been the private sector’s latest innovation for industry needs. Education 4.0, as the new model is called, has revolutionised education, through cutting-edge communication technologies that make learning more democratic and affordable and it is personalised in terms of the learner’s goals, time, and resources. With Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Robotics changing the paradigms of the job market, continuous learning is essential for success in any field. EdTech is democratising learning and is the only way leading to an acceptable, equitable, and sustainable division of labour between man and machine.

What is Education 4.0?

Education 4.0 is a desired approach to learning that aligns itself with the emerging 4th industrial revolution. This industrial revolution focuses on smart technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics; all of which now impact our everyday lives. For universities to continue to produce successful graduates, they must prepare their students for a world where these cyber-physical systems are prevalent across all industries. This means teaching students about this technology as part of the curriculum, changing the approach to learning altogether, and utilizing this technology to better improve the university experience. Research revealed that due to the 4th industrial revolution 60% of all occupations could potentially have at least a third of their activities automated. The 4th industrial revolution will also impact the soft skills that students will need in the future. Education 4.0 is about evolving with the times, and for higher education institutions, this means understanding what is required of their future graduates.

Education 4.0 initiatives aims to better prepare the next generation of talent through primary and secondary education transformation. The initiative will drive impact through:

Ø The development of relevant tools and insights to support the economic case for Education 4.0

Ø Convening a community of champions, the Education 4.0 Alliance, to advocate for quality childhood education

Ø Establishing a network of country-level public-private collaborations--Closing the Education Gap Accelerators--to enable the adoption of the Education 4.0 framework

Students now had their own access to information, the option to learn virtually, and platforms to easily connect with faculty and other students. Education was no longer centered upon a back and forth between students and teachers, but instead took on a more networked approach, with students having their own direct connection to a variety of different information sources. This encouraged the development of a more personalized way of learning where the student’s independence and unique approach to study was celebrated.

We’re now on the cusp of a new phase; Education 4.0.

A new approach to learning

By aligning teaching and learning methods with the skills needed in the future, universities can be sure they are successfully preparing their students for the 4th industrial revolution. One method of doing so is by encouraging accelerated remote learning, which is the idea that students will learn theoretical knowledge remotely using digital means, whilst ensuring any practical skills are still learnt face-to-face. This is a more flexible way of learning that requires accountability and good time management; skills that will be relied on due to the rise in the freelance economy. The move towards this way of working will also require students to learn how to adapt quickly to new situations they may face in their evolving careers. Project-based learning highlights the importance of studying a wide set of skills that can then be applied to each scenario, as opposed to sticking to a set of skills directly linked to a specific job role. The ultimate purpose of utilizing this technology and adopting new methods is to place students at the center of the education process, “shifting the focus from teaching to learning.”

Future Education Technology: How Digital Trends Are Shaping Teaching

Technology has rapidly changed every facet of our society, including the education industry. Today students grow up with internet-connected devices at home and in the classroom, which changes the way they learn. Future education technology will transform learning by giving teachers and students a variety of new tools to work with. While the future of education will be driven in large part by technology, ensuring the new teaching tools are put to use most effectively requires a new generation of educators who appreciate the importance of human interaction in educational settings.

EdTech

Edtech, a portmanteau of the phrase “education technology," is the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning. Edtech is the practice of introducing IT tools into the classroom to create a more engaging, inclusive and individualized learning experience.

Studies show that early investments in children’s learning and education generate significant economic returns. Thus, investing in the development of holistic skills in primary and secondary education will be critical in addressing the root causes of the worldwide skills gap, preparing the next generation of talent to engage in lifelong learning, and ensuring that future efforts in reskilling and up skilling pay off for individuals, businesses and governments. The COVID-19 pandemic has both accelerated these trends and massively disrupted learning. It has also cast a new light on existing challenges and inequities within global education systems. There is a unique window for gaining support for fundamentally transforming both the focus of and approaches to learning within primary and secondary education as governments are thinking more seriously about the social implications of the economic recovery and how best to ensure that the next wave of stimulus packages build the foundations of a new inclusive economy.

Education, as an enabler of more dynamic, inclusive and prosperous societies, must form a key part of the “economic” recovery. Such a new approach must put holistic skills and innovative pedagogies at the core of learning and create a more inclusive paradigm that is more closely aligned to the needs of the labour market and societies more broadly.

The future of Edtech

The Edu-tech or ed-tech industries is currently booming as all educational institutions small or big, are adopting a hybrid approach to learning. Necessity is the mother of all inventions.

The year 2020 was a pivotal year when employers understood the importance and relevance of work from home as well as learn from home. On the other hand, learners realized that up skilling or reskilling is the only way to grow and continue to have a sustained career. Plus, the shift to digital even for Degrees as envisaged in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) all align extremely well with emerging tech and give me hope that finally, we shall see a huge surge in digital adoption in education. This will be the focal year for that and could be the catalyst for higher GER in Higher Education and more outcome-led and inclusive education.

With the rapid shift to digital learning, tech adoption came as a by-product to all the consumers. 2022 is the year of change and evolution. The Edu-tech or ed-tech industry is currently booming as all educational institutions small or big, are adopting a hybrid approach to learning. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The need of the hour is to adopt tech-based education, in order to move ahead and keep up with the global trends.

Following are some ways that can help in building a better, advanced technologically developed education environment in 2022:

1. Career-oriented or outcome-based learning: The ubiquitous presence of mobile data and the scalability of high-quality learning using digital platforms enables better quality education to be delivered across the length and breadth of this country. People are resorting to much faster and more ROI-led means of acquiring these skills and experiences that can help them to secure employment or even grow in any industry. Players like Talentedge have stepped in to help our entire populace to have access to outcome-based learning, certifications, and even career advancement while sitting in your own town or village!

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: The influence of AI and Machine Learning in EdTech is predicted to grow by more than 47 percent in 2021. The capability of these technologies to automate even the most basic activities like grading, communication, queries, feedback, evaluation, and progress improves the overall experience of users.

3. AR and VR will become mainstream: Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already popular and in motion. With the help of AR, interactive learning platforms empower and enable both students and teachers to enjoy the classroom experience. With the help of this technology, educationalists can expand the world of a classroom by adding videos and graphics, making it interesting and interactive for the students. Whether the teachers bring the historical figure to life or bring a whole simulation of the business world into the learning spaces, they will always have more possibilities to explore than ever before. Education trends will ride the wave of increased internet capabilities and higher network bandwidth, bringing advanced technology into schools with greater ease.

4. Mobile as a key to boosting learning capabilities: Till the beginning of the year 2020, we all believed that mobile phones are the main cause of disruption in a learner’s life. But now, it is believed that by 2025 more teachers will be leveraging mobile devices to deliver as well as assess learning. The year 2020 taught us that learning can be equally engaging and fun when it is done via devices and apps. These apps can also be used to conduct tests, assign work and submit assignments, and even assess the delivery and final understanding.

5. Classrooms will eventually develop: The introduction of technology in educational institutions will drastically change the classroom environment. In the coming few years, these institutions will evolve to accommodate the technology. For example, students working on robotics will have their stations equipped with advanced but suitable tools. With such a setup, classrooms will become more interactive and students will get opportunities to engage better with the domains of their choice. We are currently at the pivotal point for EdTech and the move from here will determine the future of technology in education. The year 2021 should bring positive momentum in the digital transformation in education. Technology will support efficient, transparent, personalized, scalable, and accountable systems which will provide the best learning experiences.

6. Tablets in Classrooms: Tablets have become the mobile device that students use most often, and for good reason — they’re small and portable enough for students to use individually, big enough for multiple students to share, and versatile enough to serve as a video player, word processor, or educational gaming device. The Pearson study of education trends found that 9 in 10 students believe tablets “will change the way students learn in the future.” The next generation of instructors would be wise to consider ways to implement tablets in their curriculum, whether for giving students’ assignments, sharing multimedia, or any number of other uses for the devices. Ample opportunities for the creative application of tablets exist for teachers who have earned a liberal arts degree and chosen to join the field of education. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) notes that “changing classroom practice with technology is really, really hard” — a reflection on the fact that tablets are most often used to update existing education practices, such as distributing materials and taking notes, rather than for newer, innovative purposes. The next generation of teachers who embrace tablets will have a profound impact on their students, teaching them greater technological literacy and expanding their opportunities to learn in fresh ways. In this regard, the answer to the question, “Is teaching a good career for the future?” is a resounding “Yes!”

7. Assistive Technology: For students with disabilities, new technologies mean empowerment, putting them on a more equal footing with their classmates than ever before. A range of assistive technology devices are available for special education students and students with disabilities to provide the educational support they need. One important education trend in the category of assistive technology devices is the use of alternative input devices. These allow students with disabilities to use computers and tablets equipped with modified keyboards featuring larger buttons, cursors they can manipulate with their mouth or feet, and other capabilities. For students whose disability prevents them from using any sort of manual input device, speech-to-text technology has become a reliable alternative. Additionally, more subtle technology advances, such as easy-to-read fonts that make it easier for students with dyslexia, support those with minor learning disabilities. These trends in future education technology break down the barriers separating students based on their ability to learn. Teachers who leverage these and other innovations will be on the forefront of education leadership.

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