Industry collaboration and ecosystem enablement key for a seamless ‘new normal’

The third day of the Education Week of Express Computer’s flagship Digital Technology Senate set the directions for India’s education ecosystem in a post Covid world

The education ecosystem in India has demonstrated high resiliency amidst the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. While a large proportion of higher educational institutes was already equipped with digital platforms, others have quickly embraced collaboration tools to ensure continuity with least disruption. The focus has now moved from survival to setting up of roadmaps and new approach for seamless operations the ‘new normal’.

Dr. Ajeenkya DY Patil, President, Ajeenkya DY Patil University

Ecosystem enablement
The major highlight of the third day of Digital  Technology Senate was the keynote address by Dr. Ajeenkya D Y Patil, President, Ajeenkya DY Patil University. In his keynote address themed, ‘Realigning with the new normal’, Dr. Patil shared a holistic view of the country’s education landscape and how it can adapt to the post Covid world.

He shared, “The crisis, which has came as an utter shock, has greatly disrupted the traditional education sector. At our university, we have a combination of both, traditional and modern education system. The traditional approach is, however, changing. Covid-19 has forced institutions to adapt to technology, and many of them have been bridging the gap by adopting new technologies – which was earlier not given much importance.”

It is crucial that digital efforts of the educational system is supplemented by a robust infrastructure. Connectivity is the underlying factor that will ensure uninterrupted access to education even in rural India.

Dr. Patil said, “We need a strong backbone for the country with good connectivity in rural areas. Technology has to reach the remote corners of India, because a lot of people are still deprived of education because they are not equipped with the required tools. Covid has made us very aware and put us at the forefront; it has made humans aware of the new reality. People who are innovative and creative will always find solutions. Business leaders will find ways to bridge the divide in digital medium of education. I personally back the OODA loop, that stresses on ‘Observe, Orient, Decide, Act’, which is the need of the hour. We need to act very quickly and decisively.”

Elaborating more on changes in the industry, he opined, “Covid-19 has also presented a big opportunity to the education sector. A lot of new players will emerge and the traditional education space will get disrupted. Traditional education setups will have to innovate themselves to stay relevant. There is a huge opportunity for democratisation of education. Many of the technology companies may also become education providers, so it’s important for education institutes to think in terms of technology. There will be blended learning approach in the future, and institutes need to train their faculty to adapt to this change. A significant part  of the teaching will move onto online platforms, on robust and effective learning management platform.”

Adding on the need for industry collaboration, he said, “The government will have to play a key role in implementing the change. There will an increased role of virtual reality – AR and VR technologies will become mainstream. Additionally, network will have to become more robust, and mobility platforms should enable the ecosystem. Security will also be big focus area in the future. The focus will also be on creation of new IP, and teachers also need to become part of this whole drive. The entire ecosystem needs to come together. The IT sector, for instance, can form partnerships with educational institutions and create a win-win situation all stakeholders.”

Prof. Pradeep Pendse – Dean Academics and CTO, Welingkar Institute of Management

Tech-driven pedagogy
The special address by Prof. Pradeep Pendse – Dean Academics and CTO, Welingkar Institute of Management, foscused on re-imagination of pedagogy with emerging technologies, wherein he provided an educator’s perspective of paradigm shift in teaching methodologies.

He said, “We have delivered over 450 lectures online. However, there  are several challenges associated with online education. For students, online learning can be monotonous. Discussions are important in business schools and online delivery lacks peer learning. Flipped classrooms have a big potential in the new approach. Additionally, polls and quizzes can make online learning more interactive. The last two months were about experiments, but we now need to master the new methodologies. Pedagogy must move from instructing to empowering.”

He added, “Virtual classrooms must focus on interactions and sharing of experiences. AR and VR content, and 3D tools can be leveraged to provide immersive experiences. Whereas, cloud can help in creation of virtual labs and facilitate sharing of documents. Educational institutes can also leverage SaaS solutions for domain specific training.  Furthermore, content management systems, themselves, can become AI enabled. A huge amount of analytics is required at the backend for monitoring student activities and progress. Analytics must also be shared with students for self monitoring. AI, ML and text analytics can also be leveraged in competency based assessments.”

The conference also witnessed sessions by technology solution providers, explaining how they can play the role of enablers and help the education ecosystem in smooth transition to the new reality.

In a session titled, ‘Technology driven learning in the new age,’ Sankaralingam P, Field Marketing Manager, Client Solutions Group, Dell, provided details of Dell’s laptop portfolio for the educational institutions. He said, “We are seeing a radical change in the technology space. Voice management from cloud is one of the factors that differentiates us. We also ensure that our products are rugged. Our products are designed with ease of serviceability. Dell also assists in recycling as part of product lifecycle management.”

In another session titled, ‘Enterprise storage offering to increase data efficiency and better the total cost of ownership’, Manpreet Ahluwalia, Regional Sales Manager (North), Western Digital; and Limton Xavier, Principal Engineer, Western Digital, shared how well Western Digital is positioned to cater to the storage needs of educational institutions.

Ahluwalia explained, “Western Digital and its subsidiaries have a history of innovation. We were the first company to introduce helium HDD in 2013. Our storage and camera products are ideal fit for educational institutions. With universities using open source solutions, our offerings can offer scalability and reduce costs.”

Adding to this, Xavier informed, “We help work with the ecosystem to develop their own SDS environment on open source and stack. The education sector is an important area of focus for us and recordkeeping is one of the biggest data challenges facing educational institutions. Our HCI offerings can allow institutions to create their own private cloud. Whereas, the next big trend will be of composable architecture, wherein Western Digital is actively working.”

Dr. Ajeenkya DY PatilHigher Educationnew normalPradeep PendseTechnology Senate
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