Strengthening India’s Digital Learning Infrastructure

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The pandemic gave education technology an unparalleled boost. This has led to the unprecedented democratization of high-quality education. Despite the growth, the rural segment has struggled to compete with its urban counterparts. Children from government schools all around the country, but especially those in rural areas, battled with problems like connectivity problems, a lack of smartphones, and limited or no internet access.

‘ICUBE 2020” report by IAMAI and Kantar indicates that only 31% of the rural population are active internet users as compared to 67% of the urban population. 4.4% of rural households and 23.4% of urban households, according to NSSO statistics, have computers. Furthermore, just 14.9% of rural homes have access to a computer with an internet connection, compared to 42% of urban households.

With a country like India, along with overcoming infrastructure barriers, it is imperative to overcome language barriers and content barriers. The government of India has undertaken serval efforts that have had a significant impact on the push for digital education, including enhancing the digital infrastructure, extending Internet access to distant areas, developing online educational programs, and several other projects.

Adopting a Hybrid learning model

The education industry experts agree that combining traditional classroom instruction with online learning is essential to prepare students for the future. Many students as well as teachers lacked access to online learning and teaching even though the ed-tech sector was able to serve the majority of them over the past two years.

The increased involvement of private players in offering hybrid courses, coupled with government efforts to strengthen India’s digital landscape, is expected to increase digital education and student-teacher empowerment. It will also offer opportunities for emerging technologies. The uptake of digital education is not only drawing investment from domestic private players but international players too.

In India, after-school education is a prevalent culture and I believe the phygital approach can empower coaching institutes to reduce their time from administration and lesson planning activities before, during, and after a tuition class, so that tutors can get more time to focus on their core activity which is teaching.

Upskilling teachers

Teachers must be provided with assistance to learn new-age teaching aids as quality education holds the key to inclusive growth in India. We require a robust program to train teachers on how they can work with students to bring them to par with the expected learning levels of their grades. The Government must allow partnerships between private players to be a part of educational governing bodies to ensure a greater reach for upskilling programs for teachers.

The NEP 2020 has placed a strong emphasis on upskilling teachers and suggested improvements via various training programs. This will enforce teachers to stay current on the latest ed-tech developments to improve ongoing communication with students, master digital skills to cooperate with other international specialists, and innovate and focus on their virtual presence with the students.

5G to strengthen the digital learning landscape

5G will support the creation of “digital institutions”, particularly in rural regions, and make distance learning more interactive. Fifth-generation cellular technology will improve that access by enhancing digital collaboration, assisting in the creation of individualized learning experiences, and enhancing learning while on the go.

High-speed internet is essential in the age of virtual learning. Through 5G, students will have access to more advanced e-learning tools and services, allowing them to learn at their own pace. Its ability to provide seamless connectivity makes 5G technology potentially the best solution to deliver e-learning tools to students and teachers alike.

The way forward

The government has already recognized the significance of digital education with the introduction of digital institutions. They should continue to include funds in future budgets for the financing of the ed-tech infrastructure.

Hybrid learning is the future of ed-tech. Digital Infrastructure development is necessary to provide ed-tech services across the nation. It requires financing, and it may not be possible for one stakeholder to develop the entire sector’s needs. To strengthen the digital infrastructure government and private sector need to work hand-in-hand.