Beas Dev Ralhan is the Chief Executive Officer of Next Education India Private Limited, a technology-driven education enterprise, headquartered in Hyderabad. Beas co-founded this educational organization in 2007 along with Raveendranath Kamath, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus. Prior to Next Education, Beas worked as an entrepreneur, investment manager and consultant for around a decade in firms such as FreshPixel India Pvt Ltd, Retort Software India Pvt Ltd, PartyGaming LLC, and Infosys. In recognition of his immense contribution to the K–12 education segment, CII (Southern Regional) bestowed upon him the ‘Emerging Entrepreneur’ award in 2015. He also received the Indian Education Leader award at the 7th World Education Summit, 2016. Under Beas’ leadership, Next Education has also begun to secure a foothold in Bangladesh and Middle East and is now looking at expansions in Africa.
As offline academic operations are giving way to online methods of managing the day-to-day academic affairs, schools are being transformed by a series of developments in educational technology. Often, the latest innovations are hailed as milestones by beneficiaries who foresee the advantages offered by the digital age. Amidst these new developments, the issue of transparency has become the main concern of administrators, parents, students and teachers across the globe. In the broadest sense of the word, transparency entails not only the critical disclosure of information via different media but also places a premium on honest and open communication between the various stakeholders of a school. Along with transparency comes the issue of accountability, which makes each stakeholder take individual responsibility for their actions.
Problems faced in the context of offline academic operations
When academic operations are maintained offline in a school, there occurs a multitude of problems that can disrupt the normal functioning of its day-to-day operations.
Let’s take a look at some of these problems:
- Communication between different stakeholders becomes extremely difficult when there is no online integrated platform to keep them posted about the academic and administrative needs of a school.
- Data accessibility becomes cumbersome for different stakeholders with manual procedures in place.
- Principals can’t monitor teacher effectiveness in the absence of real-time indicators. As such, they rely on student outcomes to measure it.
- It becomes an exacting task for teachers and principals to assess the performance of students throughout an academic year and ascertain their learning gaps without real-time analytic tools.
- Teachers can’t share educational resources with students and track their usage in various stages of teaching and learning on a single platform.
- Parents lack real-time information about what is being taught in the class on a day-to-day basis and the homework assigned to their wards.
Such problems call for the implementation of robust technological measures which can warrant transparency in the education system. Instituting long-term and sustainable technological solutions not only streamlines the myriad operations of a school but also facilitates transparency in most of the work done in schools.
How edtech products are promoting transparency
With the growing acceptance of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and learning management systems (LMS), the barriers in the way of promoting openness and transparency within the school ecosystem have been broken down to a large extent. Solutions such as NextERP and NextLMS designed by Next Education merit attention due to the range of functionalities offered by them. ERP is an administrative tool that provides accurate, real-time electronic data on systems and processes integral to the day-to-day running of a school. On the other hand, LMS is an academic management tool for the creation, delivery, documentation, reporting and tracking of educational resources. Both these solutions allow for transparent communication between the various stakeholders, viz. principals, parents, students and teachers, by keeping each of them in a common communication loop.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages offered by ERP and LMS related to transparency.
- ERP has a security enhancement feature which maps the entire layout of a school, plans visitor entry and tracks personnel via CCTV.
- ERP’s data protection feature allows the encryption of all personal and confidential files and documents of different stakeholders.
- ERP’s strong access control policies avert risks of identity thefts. For instance, if a parent wants to access any information concerning their child’s academic performance, they have to verify their identity by either entering their child’s date of birth or any other specific information the system asks for.
- LMS provides an online integrated platform wherein teachers can view their lesson plans and effectively track students’ consumption of educational resources; parents can get timely updates on course progress and homework; principals can monitor course progress and teacher effectiveness, and students can get instantaneous feedback on assessments and their learning progress.
- LMS lets principals and teachers track the learning cycle of students for an entire academic year. This helps them identify their learning gaps and propose corrective measures.
- LMS provides accurate, detailed, real-time reports on the academic performance of students. Its predictive analytics helps parents, principles and teachers identify students who are at risk of underperforming.
- LMS lets parents, principals, students and teachers be part of an online community of learners and educators wherein they can exchange ideas and opinions on different matters.
Today, transparency has become one of the key factors for parents in determining a good school for their wards. With concerns over safety rising, parents expect schools to maintain transparency in most of its operations. Schools, too, have started taking initiatives to adopt a transparent system to foster accountability and weed out malpractices likely to occur in a technology-driven age.