Digitization of Courses – Education Redefined

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The changing face of education can be evidenced from the technological innovations seen in the sector that includes online education fueled by digitization of course materials. For a long time distance education was driven by reading material that used to be sent by post. However, technology has opened up a whole new world for distance education. Now teachers can train distance education students online. Naturally course material has to be put online too. This means digitization is necessary.

Digital Call

However, simply digitizing the old material is not a great idea. Universities and institutes have to create audio visual material, which is engaging, easy to understand and apply. “Many of our courses are full of checklists, mind-maps, templates that can be used for actual work rather than just text material or recorded videos. Also, we ensure that while studying students can ask questions, discuss issues and interact with each other within the learning environment. Let’s say you are studying a specific point in a corporate law course and have a doubt. You mark that portion and ask a question. Then others can come and discuss. Experts can reply to your query. Now that discussion also became a part of the study material for those who will read it in the future. This is how the studying experience gets even more enriched,” says Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, iPleaders.in. The digitization process involves scanning or photographing materials and putting them on a website. Digitization helps ensure in preserving and continuing digital materials available to us as technologies change. “Digitization can be a tough project to embark on, but there are many benefits to digitizing the course materials. It can provide easy exposure to the digitized materials, can help you share course materials with other organizations, and showcase your knowledge base to wide range of students. Digitization of course material also improves student’s education by enhancing interaction between schools as well as parents and providing data driven decision support system,” says Satish Modh, Director VESIM, Vivekanand Education Society. Dr. Sarika Lidoria, Vice-President – Enterprise Systems ITM Group of Institutions adds, “by dissolving the barriers of time and space an online library makes it possible for students and teachers to be connected, at almost no cost, to resources literally at the other end of the globe. It ushers a cost, space and time efficient alternative to the traditional pen and paper, brick and mortar form of education.”

New Vistas

Digitization of course materials open up a host of opportunities for adding a richer learning experience for students. “For example, in a course on high school geography, if a module is devoted to how volcanoes work, along with the explanatory text one could have a video showing the pressure building up under the volcano and eventually leading to an eruption. Standardized lectures could be recorded and played back by students at their leisure. Worksheets could be automated to give feedback to students on a real time basis eliminating the need for a teacher to have to grade worksheets”, says Arjya B. Majumdar, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School. British Council offers ‘myEnglish Workplace’ an online and interactive platform for young professionals to develop their English language and business communication skills. Combining online resources with live digital classes imparted by internationally qualified teachers, myEnglish Workplace offers top quality learning in a flexible and interactive way and helps jobseekers and professionals enhance their career prospects.

Tech Talk

Technology has been at the helm of rehashing business and customer experiences. Learning has been no different as innovation and technology are changing the paradigm in on-the-go experiences and practicality of the concept being discussed. “We at SCMA have focused on skill based learning via our digital methods of teaching and assessment. The right skills and knowledge met with the demands of a constantly changing environment of enabled learning and improved retention. Knowledge is very prominently associated with retention when we discuss the applicability of learning and the millennial era of knowledge is a combination of text and visual based learning that empowers sustainability in the learning tangent and a modem of quicker recaps,” says Udit Karan Chandhok, Marketing Manager, SCMA. With Big Data, AI, AR and VR making giant strides in education, India is at the threshold of a great societal change. “I think digitization holds great promise both inside and outside the classroom. Learning becomes engaging in the classroom with simulations, audio-visual content, activities and interactive assessments.  Outside the classroom, learners can access material anytime and anywhere,” says Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-founder and CEO NextEducation. In a survey conducted by statista.com, 92% of the student community worldwide has shown an ardent interest in digitalization and its practice. “In a developing country like India, with 200 million internet users, one can only imagine the effects of digital learning. Digital tools are used not just at colleges or university level but also at schooling level,” says Karan Sachdeva, Co-Founder, MereExams.

Advantage Students

In the K-12 arena, schools are making major strides towards blending traditional course formats by utilizing online course delivery platforms in addition to digital materials which allows teachers and students to connect and learn beyond traditional ideas of the school day. Access to quality teachers and practitioners has become possible due to online learning. Vikas Gupta, Managing Director, Wiley India avers, “immersive learning is the future, learners today look forward to participating in project- based problem-solving learning experience. This has also fueled the emergence of virtual learning environment that enables peer learning and mentoring in a highly productive pedagogy. The mode of accessing information is dramatically shifting, even when it comes to learning and skilling. Content is now accessible round the clock and few clicks away and terms like Digital Libraries, Hybrid Libraries, and E-Learning, are floating around the news media.” Digitization of course materials and online delivery of courses solves the problem of access and reach of quality educational content to students across demographics and geographies. “Today, students residing in smaller and remote towns and villages of India can get access to quality education from a well-known university or college, which they otherwise would not have considered given the financial and proximity challenges. For the urban learner too, digitization of education has its advantages, convenience being the prime factor. In addition to access to course material at any time and from any place, students have the liberty to learn at their own pace and in a geographical location of their convenience,” says Karthik Kadampully, Co-founder & CEO, AEON Learning. Rupal Dalal, Executive Director, JD Institute of Fashion Technology says, “recently we did a web telecast of a master seminar that saw stalwarts of the design industry like Rina Dhaka and Sonali Bhagwati. The seminar was addressed to an audience of 400 plus budding designers providing practical knowledge. The seminar was shared with over 2000 students across centres of JD Institute of Fashion Technology through live streaming video technology. With cloud computing technology, our students can access the content of the seminar anytime from our official sites.” E- Books that are integrated with features such as annotation, select and highlight, addition of notes or reference and extraction of specific passages to create own learning trail. “As special content get created E- Books will bring multi-media content with colour, dimension, Audio, video and even interaction thru touch and type. E- Books and documents come with various advantages of being easy to produce, update, store, search and research, retrieve, carry, hold and read. With advanced encryption and security it is possibly even more effective than paper in preventing unauthorized duplication,” says Prof Mahadevan Subramaniam, TAPMI.

Doing it Right

Digitization of text books alone doesn’t necessarily help students. It only helps when their learning is collaborative and interactive in nature. “Students get the flexibility to make their work more comprehensive and detailed with the availability of content online. Further, you will need devices that students work on both from home and in school,” says Christopher Hanvey, Director Operations, Genesis Global School, Noida. Today, everyone is more involved in a digital world, and the traditional brick and mortar systems of learning have caved in to digitization. Students benefit in many ways as they would not have to make those errands to classrooms or even for on boarding one such course. “The entire process right from admissions to examinations and also alumni enrolments can be done online. With the digitization of course materials have facilitated better consumption of content as students learn from these modules as per their schedules,” opines a spokesperson from MeritTrac Services. Major textbook producers continue to expand their offerings by providing digital textbooks that allow students to interact with content beyond traditional print. “Digital textbooks provide content through media like video, simulations and data visualization which help students engage with course content on a deeper level. Digital textbooks offer even augment traditional studying by including interactive assessment that provides students and teachers with critical feedback,” says Dr. Beverly Sortland, Head of School at Stonehill International School.

Going Online

Online learning can be an essential tool and platform for student education. The Indian online education sector in India is showing promising growth and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 52% to $1.96 billion by 2021, according to a joint study by Google and KPMG. The online education sector in India is growing massively and now government bodies are also promoting online education. “The key factors that are actually driving the inclination towards online education are the convenience, increased reach and the personalization of course offered in online modules,” says Dr. Mun Mun Ghosh, Deputy Director & Head Academics, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune. UGC is also coming up with its online courses regulation. Kunal Choudhary, Founder, DSIM says, “the online education market in India right now remains at USD 247 million and is likely to see an 8x growth over the next 5 years. Seeing comfort, adaptability with beginning and varieties of study material are key motivational factors to approve online channel.” Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury, Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy adds, “online education is on the rise as many youngsters are moving to study at their pace and time, and from anywhere they like. It is also being assisted by 4G internet connectivity. With 5G coming in soon, it will be far faster and easier to conduct this mode of teaching and learning system.” Online education is the next big thing in India. The western education system has been introduced in India to make learning convenient for students and it has become an easier way for teachers to have a track on their students. Prashant Singh, Founder & CEW Testpitara.com adds, “India being one of the top mobile Internet using country the educational technology has started making a huge impact in this space. In a country like India with huge demographics and difficulty in delivering the educational content to the last leg of education system i.e. students is a big challenge. This would be only possible by assimilating the right content and delivering it rightly i.e. online.”

Making the Connect

Overcoming the major milestone of high-costs involved in establishing online education, India has successfully been able to adopt the path of digital education since the past decade. “This phenomenon has thereafter contributed in improving the quality of education and made learning an interactive experience. With more people demonstrating adaptability, even the rural parts of India are now developing acceptance for online education,” says Pratish Nair, MD and Founder, PKSBE. Digitalization is a positive step and it is only improving every day. With rising demand for digital education, the classrooms are being changed into interactive rooms for education. “The growth of online education in India will be driven by a combination of demand, supply and macroeconomic drivers. E-learning and test preparations are leading the market, but in future gaming and application of technologies like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence is going to make an impact in the culture. India has exciting opportunities in Ed-tech sector with rising young population, increasing internet penetration and acceptance of online learning as a cost effective channel,” says Eric Wei Senior Sales Director, ViewSonic Asia-Pacific. Naresh Babu Challagulla, Founder, Studymonitor concludes, “the true revolution in education can only be achieved via digitization of education so that students can learn at their own speed both within and outside the classroom. Their learning upgrades while they carry on to advantage from fostering, mentorship and direction of their teachers.”

Digital Resources

This story appeared in the June 2018 issue of Spice Route Magazine here:  Education

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