India’s higher education sector has demonstrated high resilience amidst the ongoing Covid-19 situation. Universities and educational institutions across the country have – realising the magnitude of the crisis – embraced new approaches to imparting education. From virtual classrooms to leveraging learning management systems, they have quickly adopted technology solutions to address the current challenges and ensure seamless delivery of content to students.
Marking their efforts and to provide a platform for key decision makers from the Indian higher education sector for exchange of learning and best practices, Express Computer is organising a week-long conference dedicated to higher education in the country, under its flagship Digital Technology Senate. Being held on on June 16, 18 and 19, the conference is bringing together leaders from leading universities and higher education institutions, both government and private, to deliberate upon the ‘new normal’ in the education space.
The first day of the conference witnessed the presence of two of the premier and most respected institutions of India, IIT Delhi and IIM Bangalore.
In his keynote address, Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi), shared, “IITs acrosss India are in a self discovery mode, trying to address the situation in the best manner, driven by innovation. At IIT Delhi, relevance and delivery are key to research and innovation. Our supercomputing facility, PADUM, is actively involved in Covid-19 research. Alongside, our AI researchers are looking at using data to address Covid-19 crisis. We have also developed a facial recognition technology for ensuring social distancing. By July end, we may also have a 10-minute Covid-19 test.”
Sharing more about the new teaching approach and how IIT Delhi is responding to the situation, he said, “Innovation is among the key requirements for educational institutes to become relevant today. Flipped classrooms and blended learning will be the way forward. At IIT Delhi, within weeks, we have been able to put around 300 courses online. In a post Covid world, the quality of education in India will scale up and IITs will lead the way. We are also open to joining hands with private players in the near future.”
A lot is being discussed about the blended learning approach today; whereas, some institutions have already embarked on this transformation journey. In a special address, Prof. Vasanthi Srinivasan, Chair, IIMB Digital Learning & Faculty, OB & HRM, informed, “The 21st century learner is digital native and we must devise the pedagogy accordingly. Students want personalisation and are looking at new ways of learning. The 21st century learning model will be need-based, asynchronous and virtual, and the 21st century pedagogy will move from being experimental to experiential.”
She added, “Blended Learning allows us to not just ensure digital delivery of content, but also customise content. Blended learning also requires learning new skills by both, students and instructors. In this approach, we have develop a well defined course structure and maintain high level of interaction with students. A lot of EdTech today has ‘Tech’, but no ‘Ed’.”
Tech – an enabler
The first day of the conference also witnessed presentations by technology solution providers, who are aiding educational institutions in their journey of transformation.
In her session titled, ‘The Digital Learning World – How EduTech is already the New Normal’, Rebecca Kurian, Head of Marketing, LogMeIn India, said, “Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities have been able to adapt to online learning, but Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities are struggling. Internet connectivity and digital skills are two of the major challenges facing online education in India. However, the government is working on ensuring connectivity in Tier 3 and Tier 4 regions. The future of education in India will be hybrid or blended. On-demand learning platform will be key and startups will play a pivotal role in innovation. Simplicity, engagement, mobile support and security are some of the features of good online learning tools.”
Speaking on data-driven innovations in hybrid cloud, Rajender Bhandari, Director – Technology & Solutions Group, NetApp India & SAARC, said, “Digital disruption will be defined by organisations embracing AI and ML, and data will be the basis for them. The compute power on Edge devices is increasing, which is leading to applications of AI and ML at the Edge. NetApp offers a complete portfolio of cloud native services, which are unified by data fabric. We are the only player to provide the same experience across public and private clouds Ohio State University, for instance, chose NetApp for its breadth and depth of portfolio and the data fabric story.”
In a session titled, ‘Enhancing Education with Poly’s Collaboration Technology, Puneet Dhar, Head – Presales (India & SAARC), Poly, explained how Poly is positioned to provide collaboration technology for virtual classrooms. He said, “The current trends of virtual classroom include collaborative and virtual learning, flipped classrooms, agility and innovation, extending reach and making knowledge universally available. Training the educator on technology is crucial in order to adopt virtual classrooms. We must be able enjoy the benefits of technology, but the technology must remain hidden. Poly provides AI enabled smart cameras for immersive experience in remote learning. We also use ML algorithms in our ‘NoiseBlockAI’ technology to eliminate undesired noise.”