As a leading education institution, how are your tech implementations creating an interactive and effective learning environment for students?
ELO—our online learning platform—is what we believe to be the future of education. What differentiates ELO from Zoom, MS Teams, and other online videoconferencing platforms is its emphasis on engagement. Using ELO, you can connect with peers and faculty from different countries, collaborate on assignments, participate in polls, quizzes and breakout sessions, and more. Further, the professor can make eye contact with all students just as you would in a conventional, face-to-face classroom.
Another innovation at SP Jain is ELC or Engaged Learning Classroom. A conventional classroom is essentially audio, i.e., a professor speaks, and students listen. Say, for example, a professor asks a question. Only one student can answer at a time, and the student chosen randomly often doesn’t give a good answer. This wastes precious classroom time.
At SP Jain, all students have a tablet (an iPad-like device) pre-installed on their desks. So, all students can answer the question simultaneously using the chat feature, and the professor can read the replies on the faculty dashboard. There are many other value-added features, including polling and go-fast/go-slow signals. If a student zones out during a class (and this happens to everyone), s/he could press the rewind button, and view the last five minutes of the recorded class discussions later.
Our online learning assistant (ELA) offers learning support to students 24/7 and engages them in real-time through conversations regarding the course material. Students can carry the assistant in their pocket through a mobile app, thus getting answers to their questions at any time and from any place.
Any innovative implementation that has helped streamline operations, particularly during the pandemic?
All our courses were migrated to ELO in the early days of the pandemic. This enabled us to continue teaching students without too much delay or disruption. Students seemed to be enjoying the experience of studying online; we witnessed an increase in student engagement. We also received a lot of positive feedback from students and faculty alike; even those students who wouldn’t usually participate in a classroom discussion were excited to get going.
At an organisation-level, we implemented the use of Zoom and MS Teams for internal communication. All documents and files from office desktops were uploaded to OneDrive and available on cloud, enabling our staff to work without disruption.
Please share with us the key features of ELO and how it is setting high benchmarks in learning.
Imagine an online tool that lets you have a face-to-face conversation and make eye contact with as many as 70 students in a classroom. ELO does this and a lot more.
Central to the technology is a studio we call the ELO Room, from where faculty physically conduct their classes. The ELO Room has 20 large-screen TV monitors. As students log in, professors view them sitting as though in the first row of the class. The ELO Room is set up with a robotic tracking camera that allows the professors to move without restriction, maintain eye contact with students, respond to their visual cues, moderate discussions, etc.
ELO offers ample opportunities for students and faculty to engage in one-on-one conversations. A high-end faculty dashboard provides real-time data on student participation, comprehension and engagement levels, and students’ academic and work backgrounds, through which faculty can create relevant and meaningful conversations.
We have constantly upgraded the software since it was launched in 2018. Our latest upgrade (ELO 5.0) allows students with low bandwidth to use and experience the technology. We don’t believe any other university has a similar system. We will soon launch ELO 6.0!
According to you, which are the emerging technologies that will make a significant difference in how institutions are imparting education in India?
There is an emerging area called Learning Analytics, i.e., using data to predict student behaviour. An example is segregating students based on their learning styles and preferences. Some students like to read before class; others want to read after class. You can also use learning analytics to predict student performance, improve individualised learning and make precise predictions based on the student’s background—academics, work experience and even gender and race.
Personalised learning is another promising area. Personalised learning is not simply a matter of allowing students to decide what they want to learn, but about identifying learner preferences. For example, how does the student prefer to learn—video, audio, or text? Educators can use these to create a variety of learning materials for students to choose from.
AI-powered tools like digital tutors and EdTech chatbots have become quite popular too. Imagine having your questions answered anytime, anywhere!
Your focus on innovation and new technologies you are looking at in the near future.
We are deeply passionate about technology and are constantly experimenting with new technologies. One such innovative technology is a hologram classroom that would make it possible for a professor in a remote location to appear in class in 3D—almost as if s/he were in the classroom.