“India ranks third in the world in terms of research output,” said Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Despite this, digital transformation in Indian academia is slow and needs acceleration. The Covid-19 pandemic has further drawn our attention towards the ‘Digital Divide’, which was already present in the country but resurfaced in recent times.
At the recently organised, ‘Digital Technology Senate 2021 – Education Track’ by Express Computer, several panel discussions, fireside chats and keynote sessions took place. The two-day online conference was organised on June 09, 2021 and June 10, 2021 to discuss the implications of edtech industries into our education system and seek technological innovations to enhance our digital learning platforms.
The first day of the conference began with a keynote address titled, ‘Connecting Academic R&D in Higher Education Institutions with Societal Problems’ by Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He emphasised that Indian research is benefiting other countries and coming back to India in the form of imports.
“India needs to find its ‘Morrill’ moment. Country’s fragmented institutions should come together as a single unit to solve the problems of the society. This will channelise the structured funding from various ministries. Hopefully, the National Research Foundation will bring ministries together,” stated Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Prof. Rao added, “Our educational institutions need to be an ‘idea factory’. To grow and emerge as a strong nation, Indian research and academia should focus on IT, biotechnology, nanotechnology, cognitive technology and quantum technology.”
The next session of the conference was a fireside chat namely, ‘Byju’s Phenomenal Growth Story and How it Uses Technology to Scale at Speed’. Kamal Kanth, Regional Vice President, Sales, Salesforce India and Jyothi Kasinath, Assistant Vice President, Strategy, Byju’s participated in the chat and discussed the journey of Byju’s revolutionising digital learning in India.
Kamal Kanth, Regional Vice President, Sales, Salesforce India commented that change, learning and passion are the mantras to drive success in the business.
Byjus’s has been started by a group of teachers. It is a combination of content, media and technology. Commenting upon the journey of Byju’s, Jyothi Kasinath, Assistant Vice President, Strategy, Byju’s said, “Gamified features and simple interface made our platform more appealing to children. Technology has given personalised learning to students driven by data. Students receive inputs depending upon their results which are driven by analytics.”
“Covid-19 has provided an opportunity to the edtech industry. 45 million new users have been added during the pandemic. Every customer is catered to individually, that is why our priority is to provide personal service,” added Kasinath.
The conference moved ahead with a Special Address on ‘Technology In The Learning process: A Quantum Leap’ by Dr. Atul Chauhan, President and Chancellor, Amity Education Group. He explained how digital tools are enhancing the education system and Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the education system to invest in digital infrastructure.
“AI and IoT are driving the digital degree programs today. Nobody was prepared for Covid-19 pandemic. Engagement of students has increased in online classrooms than offline classes. Camera tracking softwares is a big revolution for examination and grading operations. Robot-assisted language learning in education is the future,” stated Dr Chauhan.
The conference moved ahead with an address titled, ‘Defining the new normal for higher education’ by Raghav Gupta, Managing Director, India and APAC, Coursera. He spoke about data analytics and technology driven skills would be the future requirements across all domains.
“91% of global business will accelerate digitisation. Student employability and improving brand value are the challenges for universities. Scalable platforms, hand-on learning and private authoring are the educational needs of students today,” mentioned Gupta.
Next, Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet presented a holistic approach to cybersecurity. He said, “As the perimeter expands, billions of ‘Security Edges’ are formed. Cyberattacks surged threefold to 1.16 million last year in India. Broad visibility and protection of the entire digital attack surface to better manage risk. Integrated solution reduces management complexity and shares threat intelligence. The ‘Edge’ is the new battlefield in the future.”
Self evaluation is as crucial as learning. To elaborate on ‘How Digital Learning is Democratising Education’, Prof. Vasanthi Srinivasan, Chairperson, Digital Learning and Professor, OB and HRM, IIM Bangalore addressed a special session.
Prof. Srinivasan stated, “Digital education has to be accessible, affordable and inclusive for all. The space for training on digital platforms is infinite. Democratising the learning should be a ‘social process’ and India should invest in social learning communities.”
Sudip Banerjee, Senior Director, Transformation strategy, APJ, Zscaler took the conference ahead with his session titled, ‘Re-imagine InfoSecurity’. He elaborated on the rising issue of cyberattacks and security measures to curb them.
According to Banerjee, “Driven by the cloud, the internet is becoming the new corporate network. There has been a 500 per cent increase in ransomware attacks over TLS since Mar 2020. 193 million phishing attempts blocked over encrypted channels. The Zero Trust approach is the key approach that should be used to prevent cyberattacks.”
The last session of the conference was a power-packed panel discussion titled, ‘Leveraging best-in-breed technology to create a thriving academic atmosphere for students’. This discussion focused on digital transformation and AI driven learning mechanisms mainstreaming the digital education.
Dr. Saurabh Mehta, Chief Academic Officer and Professor, Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Vidyalankar Institute of Technology, Mumbai; Dr. Veena Dutta, Registrar, UPES; Dr. S S Sehgal, Director Engineering and Registrar, Chandigarh University; Prof. Sangeeta Shah Bharadwaj, Chairperson, Digital Infrastructure, MDI Gurgaon; S Sudhindra, Professor, Associate Dean (Academics) & Chair – Information Systems and Technology Area at T A PAI Management Institute, Manipal and Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet were the eminent panelists of the discussion.
“Covid-19 has given a big push to educational institutions to adopt digital education. The technology adapting rate is high, soon the entire education will shift to digital education,” said Dr. Saurabh Mehta, Chief Academic Officer and Professor, Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Vidyalankar Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
Dr. Veena Dutta, Registrar, UPES said, “The paradigm shift from traditional learning to hybrid learning is not going anywhere. Competitive edtech players are going to add value services to online learning. Gamified learning is engaging students onto digital platforms.”
Dr. S S Sehgal, Director Engineering and Registrar, Chandigarh University highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned kids and their parents into tech-savvy. He said, “Our education system is well prepared to bridge the gap between Indian and western systems. Placement of college students has increased only and witnessed no effect from the digital learning shift.”
“Technology led disruption has fastened the digital transformation of education. There is nothing called change management. ERP and cloud computing has been picked up into the digital learning space. Transformative education is going beyond the campuses and going global,” commented Prof. Sangeeta Shah Bharadwaj, Chairperson, Digital Infrastructure, MDI Gurgaon.
According to S Sudhindra, Professor, Associate Dean (Academics) and Chair, Information Systems and Technology Area at TAPAI Management Institute, Manipal, “Adopting an AI driven learning mechanism has mainstreamed our digital learning curve. Our ecosystem has changed. Innovation is driving the education system.”
Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet said, “Zero Trust network access is the smart way to prevent cyberattacks. Acceleration and innovation change the need for operational technology and cybersecurity. We have to adopt a holistic vision for edge and network. Automation must be adopted to free humans from repetitive and mundane work.”
All the panelists reached the conclusion that digital learning will bring a new kind of revolution into our existing education system.
With the Salesforce Digital Technology Senate Awards Ceremony at the end, the first day (education track) of the conference concluded with valuable takeaways such as, there is a need to unlearn traditional methods of learning in order to learn the digital education methodologies.