India has a great opportunity with its demographic dividend to grow its economy rapidly. An educated and skilled workforce is critical to realize the potential of India’s talent over the next few years. However, the gross enrolment ratio in the higher education space is still stuck in the range of 25%.
There is also a big shift in the skills needed for the workforce of the future with technological advancements in the field of AI, Robotics, IoT and Genomics. So there is a need to dramatically scale the higher education sector. With technological innovations and the ‘digital’ push in India, there is an opportunity for quality distance education to help scale the higher education sector in the country.
Distance learning, has evolved as a viable supplement supporting the education sector. Technavio, a market research firm headquartered in London, has predicted India’s distance education market to flourish over the next few years and hit a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of close to 11% by 2020. This explosion will be propelled by the emergence of multiple learning methods catering to the needs of different kinds of learners.
Distance learning has forced the Indian education system, infamous for being resilient to technology, to break out of its one-size-fits-all model and has evolved as an option for all kinds of learners. Interested in acquiring an additional degree while pursuing a full–time job? Distance learning can help you with it. Want to upskill yourself for that long-awaited promotion? Enrol in a certification course and cut the chase short.
Distance learning has been a hit with learners across the globe due to its convenient and flexible structure. The model has been continuously revamping itself to meet the changing needs of learners. Whether you are looking for online class-room learning, self-paced learning model or a blend of both, there are plenty of choices to pick from. And a lot of this has been possible due to technological advancements. The distance learning field has been quick to adopt and leverage technology, making education easily and readily available to a larger section of learners today.
While it is more satisfying to read from a book, how often do you have the right book at the right time around you? And aren’t we all guilty of being a little lazy on a Sunday afternoon to grab one from the study room? But what do we always have around us? Right, our smartphones, laptops, and Kindles. The idea of accessing reading material or course content anytime, anywhere blew most Indians away, so much so that a large section of people believed it to be a fad or a scam. After all, it sounded too good to be true, right? Yes, we take our time evaluating the credibility of anything new presented to us, which is why it is commendable how far EdTech has come today.
Modern-day technology is responsible for ushering a new age of learning, which has expanded beyond regular classrooms. Your office, your room, the bus you take every day, the park you spend some time in, are all your classrooms if you have the desire to learn and improve yourself.
Today, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are offered by almost all top universities worldwide taking quality education to a greater height. Who could have imagined just a decade ago that young students would be required to carry tablets as a part of their school essentials? However, today it is an everyday scenario in a country and field that was said to be tech-resistant.
While most professionals are inclined towards upgrading their skills, they are often deterred by a busy schedule. Plus, it takes a certain level of commitment to put your mind into studying after years of distance from learning. Then there are some who have trouble studying by themselves. Few learners also prefer constant interaction with their peers, the lack of which can lead to poor learning outcomes. These were some of the factors that were believed to be responsible for the low success rate of distance education in India.
However, all these challenges have been successfully addressed by EdTech. ‘Mobile First’ learning platforms enable learning on-the-go, which was the need of the hour as distance learners prefer to make the most of their spare time and what’s better than pulling out your phone to learn from an app?
Now, coming to making distance learning fun – gamification is making learning more enjoyable and much more effective too. It also helps in replicating the experience of team interaction through quizzes and group challenges. However, the biggest advantage of EdTech has to be the ease of updating the curriculum and disseminating it to the learners in no time!
Distance learning, backed with technology, is helping in promoting high order skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity in students, apart from making education easily available, personalised, and convenient. A push of a button now opens up doors to repositories of knowledge.
With the Indian government’s growing focus on the adoption of digital technology and the collaborations between several education providers to develop innovative as well as feasible learning solutions catering to different sections of learners, technology will further change the face of education in India. With technology on education’s side, access to world-class education in India will no longer be a mere dream!
About the Author:
Gopal Devanahalli is the Senior Vice President of Manipal Global Education Services. As a leader in the higher education industry, he truly believes distance learning is the future of Indian education. Manipal Global Education Services (MaGE) is a leading international provider of high-quality higher education and upskilling services.
This article was originally published in Hindustan Times.