Schooling Them Differently

"It is widely accepted that children are visual learners. Almost 75 per cent of children's learning is through what they see. India needs to transform the education system using technology to bring in conceptual and personalised learning."

Illustration by Raj Verma Illustration by Raj Verma

Technology-led innovations have disrupted every industry. From automobiles, homes to retail -- we have witnessed drastic changes in how technology modernised these industries to cater to the evolving needs of people. Rise of Internet usage and adoption of smartphones have changed the accessibility landscape, too. From fingerprint sensors becoming accessible to masses through smart phones, to NASA manufacturing the first object ever 3D printed in space, the evidence of change is all around us. However, education has witnessed very less change -- we continue to teach our children the way we did over a century ago. The learning ecosystem still focusses on marks and grades with a "one-size-fits-all" approach which leads to learning driven by the fear of exams.

While technology has made in-roads in the way children learn, there is a long way to go before we call it a revolution. We don't need to reform our education system - what we need is transformation of the learning ecosystem, a transformation that will weave in the importance of becoming self and life-long learning.

Technology can help make learning simple, fun, contextual, interactive and personalised. It enables a combination of teachers, videos and animations to deliver an enriching and engaging learning experience. Additionally, big data analytics enables personalised learning, feedback and assessments. It ensures that every child learns at their pace and style. Hence, technology can truly help us innovate the way subjects are taught, and personalise it based on capability of the student. At BYJU'S, we are constantly working to make learning accessible, engaging, effective, and meaningful for everyone.

Studies show children extensively use their senses to learn in which the sense of sight accounts for 75 per cent. For children today, screens have become the natural interface for consuming information. Given the increased use of tech and smart devices, there is a huge opportunity to create an impact through better learning experiences.

For that we need to:

Deliver teaching with quality. A fundamental challenge is our system of "rote learning". Memorisation has been given more importance than conceptual understanding. Use of powerful videos and animation teaching tools can transform that. Children are visual learners and explaining concepts with visuals makes learning exciting and easy. The focus can truly be on conceptual understanding by explaining the "how" through real life examples, which students relate to.

Create 'active learners'. With over 260 million enrollments, India has the largest K-12 education system in the world, but ranks low in global assessments. This is because learning is driven by fear of exams. Children are still getting trained to solve questions, not ask questions. Access to quality and engaging content will help move towards active learning from passive, making them life-long learners. We need to encourage children to ask questions rather than solving questions. Learning backed by technology empowers students to initiate learning on their own creating a whole new segment of self-paced learners. Our teams are working on creating learning experiences that will help further this whole new segment of "self-initiated and life-long learners".

Personalise learning. A great education product will identify hurdles faced by the student and customise itself to the pace of his/her learning. Personalisation ensures students initiate learning on their own which leads to them being effective, engaged and motivated to learn. This leads to better overall results. Ed-tech companies can take this one step further and leverage big data analytics to trace the learning footprint of students individually to create personalised learn journeys, based on proficiency levels and capabilities.

Create tech-enabled experiences. Teachers will continue to play a crucial role. They can redefine the way children learn by combining teaching skills with tech tools. This adds a new dimension to the learning process. Embracing technology will offer teachers access to tools, mediums and interactive formats to deliver concepts in the most effective, personalised and engaging manner. This solves the problem of access to quality teachers on a one-on-one format, making it more rewarding for teachers.

Gamify education: Gamification in education ensures that the learning experience is fun, engaging, interactive and effective at the same time. It drives students towards achieving goals, eventually leading to better learning outcomes. Among younger students, clever integration of games has demonstrated higher engagement.

Make quality education accessible. With over 300 million smartphone users, data consumption across age groups is changing; especially amongst students. Close to 70 per cent of students in the K-12 segment have access to smartphones and is the entry point to a world of information. Children are visual learners and explaining concepts with visuals makes learning exciting and easier. The best curricula can be customised and made available to students across the country. Instant interactivity, irrespective of geography, should be the motto of companies striving to make a difference in this space.

Why Now?

With an average age of 29, India will be the youngest country by 2020. While India will hold an advantage with an increased working population, the reality is globalisation, technological advancement and high level of automation will lead to new jobs. Research by the World Economic Forum shows 65 per cent of children entering primary school will find jobs that do not exist today. Early conceptual understanding is essential for students to re-skill and up-skill in the future. It is only through right education that we can prepare our youth for the unknown jobs of tomorrow. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don't even exist today will become commonplace. It is critical to prepare our youth for the "jobs of tomorrow" through right education.

Technology has shifted the way learning is approached. While technologies will continue to disrupt this industry, the key transformation will come once the learning ecosystem adopts a "student-drive" approach. Interactive sessions on smart devices will make learning flexible and non-intrusive, thereby creating a seamless learning environment. The ecosystem should create learning experiences that will ease and adapt to every student's learning pace and style.

The writer is Founder & CEO, BYJU'S