Rajiv is the Chief Executive Officer of the Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP) Division of BITS Pilani, a globally reputed higher education institution. The WILP division of BITS is focused on meeting continuing education needs of working professionals and serves multiple Industry verticals like IT & ITES, Automotive, Manufacturing, Energy, Metals & Mining, Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare, etc. Rajiv leads the WILP division and has played a pivotal role in scaling up BITS Pilani’s unique Work Integrated Learning Model that now has 30,000+ working professionals on rolls and pursuing a range of Sector-Specific Degree Programmes.
Technology has certainly evolved into one of the most essential and irreversible components of the civilized world. Besides being indispensable in various sectors that shape up our economy, technology also has a profound effect on several aspects of most of our personal and professional lives.
However, education is one sector that hasn’t possibly absorbed technology’s potential at an optimal level as yet or at a level where it should have been. This may seem little unexpected, considering that the knowledge of technology (acquired generally through formal education) itself helps lay the foundation to employing the technology; as such, the natural expectation could be that the education sector should ideally have benefitted more significantly from it, at least in comparison with the impact that technology has had on other sectors and industries.
The potential of educational technology, beyond the core pandemic era
The COVID-19 pandemic has already made one of the strongest cases for investing in technology in education; it also demonstrated that when many schools and universities are not able to provide instructions in a physical setting, it is critical to have an integrated approach (that leverages technology in some way or the other) in the learning process.
However, even after the core pandemic era, Google has apparently seen an 85% increase in online courses and a 75% increase in certificate courses. There are hundreds of such instances that demonstrate that educational technology is more than a “need of the hour” solution; it is certainly here to stay. The educational technology market is expected to grow to $342 billion by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.
Leveraging educational technology to engage better and provide more options to excel
Indeed, technology is certainly being leveraged in education even now; but, it has much more to offer. While technology is currently being employed primarily to replace analogue tools, it should also be considered over traditional methods for its numerous competitive advantages, such as enhanced student engagement and more practise opportunities.
Make learning more intriguing and engaging
Educators can now use educational technology to go beyond the typical setup of a class and experiment with a variety of new and interactive approaches to pique students’ interest. Augmented Reality (AR), podcasts, and videos, for example, can make even a seemingly uninteresting topic more intriguing and engaging. Learners, on the other hand, can be creative too with their submissions, as they can now exchange ideas and thoughts with other learners around the world and perhaps incorporate their findings (from those interactions) into their work.
Helping learners to learn at their own pace
One of the primary benefits of educational technology is that it helps students to prioritize and pace their learning. Even if they are unable to attend a particular class in person, they can always view online learning session records later and revisit the same information as many times as they need.
Reduce costs of learning and optimize flexibility
Of course, another advantage that technological innovations in the education sector provides is the cost reduction and flexibility of courses. Almost every college now offers distance-learning for a variety of courses. This can help reduce the costs of travel, buying books, and lodging, among other expenses. This makes the courses more affordable and hence, learning becomes accessible to learners.
Online learning can also potentially address obstacles related to “age limit” for a degree or for someone needing to take a sabbatical to pursue education. A learner can, at any point in their life, study at globally renowned or leading universities and pursue high quality education, without having to abandon their professions.
Enhance employability by improving skills relevant for jobs
As many of today’s high-demand positions were developed in the recent decade or so, merging technology and education is one approach to developing professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and talent to address such job roles.
Educational technology can also help young students, who are yet to decide on a career route. With access to job counsellors as well as knowledge at the tip of their fingers, any student can now make a confident, informed, and decisive move into their professional lives.
The educational institutions and EdTech enterprises that aim to leverage educational technology optimally and wish to thrive in this competitive landscape (rife with global talent and mobility challenges), will need to differentiate themselves not just via their products or services, but also through their expertise, ideas, knowledge, and experience. And when this is done right, the education experiences will likely have the desired results for all the stakeholders in the education system.