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The Digitization of Education and What It Spells for Your Child

Author | March 20, 2021

Technology has made sweeping changes to every industry around the world. Its ever-growing presence compounded by the wide-ranging nature of the Internet has enabled transformations that have benefited millions of people. Education too has experienced a vast advantage by amalgamating proven pedagogical practices with modern, technology-driven ones to improve the quality of learning. In fact, it was John Dewey, the leading American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer who, in support of educational reform, once said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” The Indian landscape is primed for embracing technology across various sectors. Its recent digital empowerment came from the government’s ‘Digital India’ program that sought to make services accessible to its citizens through electronic mediums. This initiative paved the way for higher adoption of digital literacy in the country – more and more educational institutions and schools began to adopt interactive teaching methods that could provide an engaging learning environment for students. “Technology makes it possible for students to visualize what they cannot see in real life like the structure of an atom”, remarks Mr. Anil Mammen, Chief of Learning Design, Tata ClassEdge. “It helps them manipulate values like temperature and pressure and see their impact on objects. It helps them connect to a world of resources, experts and curious peers.” While grand explorations are being made to introduce newer software to aid the process of teaching in classrooms, technology has also percolated into the after-school learning space. Today, it has become a “preferred medium of supplementary learning”. Over the last decade, several digital learning programs began to incorporate elements like puzzle cards, short videos, worksheets, practice exercises, games, and more. In doing so, these platforms have changed the way students learn.

Introduction to Personalised Learning

The most visible change in learning is the adoption of technology-influenced personalised learning, also referred to as adaptive learning. This learning method draws from Confucius’s theory of “teaching students according to their aptitude”. Here, the focus shifts from just delivering learning content to understanding the needs of the learners, their strengths, weaknesses and their individual experiences in order to make the whole experience more learner-centric. Breaking away from traditional pedagogy, it is designed to meet the specific needs of every child. According to a report on higher education by Adams Becker et al., “Adaptive learning refers to the technologies monitoring student progress, using data to modify instruction at any time”. Moving beyond creating customized plans, personalized learning also makes room for changes in accordance with a child’s performance. A prominent platform in the education arena that approaches personalization through a study plan route is Studi. A product of Tata ClassEdge, Studi helps students plan their learning schedule, track their performance and evaluate their confidence.

Creating Independent Learners

In creating a plan that is unique to every learner, Studi allows students to select their preferences, set a goal and work towards it. Learners are encouraged to take active part in the process of learning through planning, responding to reflective questions, practice activities, problem-solving and self-tests. Engaging them sets the stage for self-motivated, independent learners who are accountable for their performance. As Mr. Anil Mammen points out, “The aim of education is to equip students to set goals for themselves, not just to pursue given goals. Studi has been designed to make the learner take charge of learning.” Moreover, technology enables the subject matter to be broken into shorter chunks or videos of bite-sized information. It departs from the traditional voluminous textbooks, rote learning and a top-to-bottom flow of information. In fact, most of Studi’s videos are within five minutes as research suggests that lengthy videos strain the attention of a student.

The Practice of Spaced Tests

The use of such an adaptive style of learning is reflected in a student's test results. Through Studi, a student gains access to spaced practice tests that contribute to higher retention of a subject. While tests are provided soon after a concept is completed, spaced practice tests that take place after a week’s interval are also rolled out to facilitate better retention of what has been learnt. “Rote-learning leads to forgetting concepts quickly, as the information stored in the learner’s short-term memory fades without reinforcement. When you space your practice sessions, you work towards retrieving what you learned earlier – this helps with long-term retention,” says Mr. Anil Mammen. Studi offers practice tests and assessments in both digital and printable versions that are similar to conventional classroom tests. Parents can customize tests for their children to mirror the school’s syllabus. These tests are also accompanied by an answer key in case parents wish to evaluate their child.

Participation of Parents

One of the greatest benefits that comes from the interweaving of technology and education is that it leads to the greater involvement of parents. Parents can watch their child learning, catch a glimpse of their progress, their daily schedule, the amount of attention they give to a subject or the ones they must focus on, their upcoming tests and more. Apart from this, they can reassure their child when they haven’t fared well or even spark their interest in a subject that they previously disliked.

The Future of Digitalized Education

The future of digitalized education in India remains bright as the common man is being increasingly surrounded by technology. Closer to recent times, the hesitation of imbibing technology into mainstream education is losing its grip especially in the case of government-run schools. Teachers and parents alike have recognized the potential that technology holds for their children. With the affordability of the Internet and its deeper penetration into the heartland and the growing confluence between technology and traditional learning methods, the education industry is slated for complete transformation. As Anil Mammen says, “The use of technology in education is not just about consuming videos or content. It’s about designing spaces that connect ideas across disciplines, make it possible for students with shared interests to interact with each other and encourage the creation of learning artifacts. That’s our vision.”