Misplaced celebrations: How edtech changed education from necessity to privilege


2020 noticed one of many greatest crises in education due to the pandemic that triggered a file influx of over $2 billion in edtech area. Byju’s, valued at $12 billion acquired Aakash Educational Services for $1 billion and Amazon and Google, like Facebook’s Founder, introduced large plans for India on this area.

On one hand, such bulletins are a celebration of great success in worth creation by younger Indian entrepreneurs in a really brief time. On the opposite, it takes concepts, innovation, foresight, ardour and perseverance to construct a profitable enterprise and plenty of younger Indian entrepreneurs have constructed profitable companies all of us may be pleased with. Even as we have fun these milestones, there’s a want to be cautious. We want to peel the onion and look carefully at two basic questions.

Education for revenue

Firstly, is it proper to begin seeing education as a enterprise for folks to spend money on for large returns? Are the times of ‘Education for Good’ getting changed by ‘Education for Profit’? Will Institutes of excellence just like the IITs and IIMs even be measured by market cap sooner or later? Will our faculties need to break free, arrange chains and ask free of charge market pricing in order that they can also appeal to buyers?

There can be an ethical argument that if the disaster is a chance then can a fundamental necessity like education turns into a commodity simply to multiply wealth? Or ought to we view it a possibility to rework the damaged education techniques by selecting to reply to it in a approach that demonstrates a priority for all- not just some.

If we measure success in education by means of the lens of revenue, or funding for revenue numbers, the results will likely be fairly adverse. Having labored on the backside of the education pyramid for the final 7 years, I’m biased and strongly imagine that education isn’t just an aspirational commodity however a basic proper, thus it turns into obligatory to take heed to the inequalities triggered by such modifications. We should cease and replicate in order that we do have fun such nice achievements, nevertheless we will additionally work exhausting to right the prevailing system in order that the education hole between the haves and have-nots is decreased.

Old wine, new bottle

The second query to be debated is equally vital. Is the thrill round edtech a case of technology-led disruption or is it previous wine in a brand new shinning bottle, harking back to the sooner fashions of tuition facilities and training academies that held a promise of a greater tomorrow for those who pays? Has one thing basically changed in the way in which we educate as we speak or is it a case of celebration of no different alternative? Let me clarify.

The main problem in COVID was to create a way of studying by means of muted mics and switched off cameras. Teachers struggled with on-line decorum, self-discipline administration and making ready for courses. Further, there have been a number of situations of tech-related privateness points and on-line courses noticed larger involvement – and, in some instances, interference – by dad and mom. Children, however, struggled with the bodily affect of being glued to a cellular display screen for hours together with decreased out of doors exercise.

In a approach, the pandemic provided our studying system a silver lining among the many clouds- a possibility to rework. While discussions a few full pivot to good studying and digital supply have been afloat since ages, the disaster confirmed us whether or not this execution was truly attainable or not. The flipped classroom, that we imagined as a dynamic and empowering area, was being delivered in real-time. There was additionally an actual alternative to benefit from digital strategies to enhance the dimensions and affect of studying to embody those that could in any other case not have entry to bodily school rooms. The thought was to check the waters for the creation and supply of partaking content material to rework the method of studying.

What occurred as a substitute was that Zoom courses grew to become an equal of a bodily class, identical to an e-paper is the digital model of a newspaper minus any worth addition of its personal. Governments too went into an overdrive with MOOC apps, lectures by means of Doordarshan, WhatsApp and what not. Evidently, instructing actions passed off and little doubt helped college students save an instructional 12 months from going to waste.

But provided that such a pivot to digital supply was being executed at an enormous scale, this chance may even have been used to radically alter the way in which instructional content material is created- visually interesting and centered on consumer engagement like in gamified content material. It is essential to do not forget that content material mass distribution is like water over a pan – it overflows with no affect.

Reaching extra with much less

From being buzzwords to being a model of actuality, the ideas of good school rooms and flipped studying had been supposed to bridge gaps in studying by creating interactive and fascinating content material. What the pandemic has introduced to our discover is that whereas our dedication to good studying for all is unwavered, the mannequin of execution has some flaws. The imaginative and prescient of education for every one can’t be achieved by means of piecemeal measures however requires a holistic overhaul of establishment.

Thus, a misplaced celebration of investments for revenue may distract us from the reality that we missed the pandemic alternative to deliver a few basic change in educating our kids by reaching extra with much less, as a substitute of reaching few who pays, with increasingly more.

(The author is Founder Chairman Sampark Foundation and Former CEO HCL Technologies)

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