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Saturday, October 24, 2020
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COVID-19 gave a boost to the EdTech industry- Navakoti Ram

Navakoti Ram M.A, Chairman and Managing Director of Upswing Learning

In conversation with Brainfeed, Navakoti Ram M.A, Chairman and Managing Director of Upswing Learning, shares insights on upcoming industry trends and challenges

Do the new changes brought forth by NEP 2020 offer uniform and improved dispersion of technology use?

The forward-looking NEP 2020 is a step in the right direction that envisions the complete revamp of the educational system to align with the dynamic external forces we all observe today. One key theme envisaged by the policy is the active role technology would play in ensuring that the vision is realised. The policy agrees to the current need of moving away from the ‘rote learning’ approach where students and teachers conduct their activities with the sole aim towards a performance at examinations. For India to become the knowledge capital of the world, the approach to teaching and learning must be to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills by understanding concepts and being able to apply them effectively.

Technology helps achieve this through innovative solutions and pedagogies wherein interactive learning modules and immersive content benefits ‘real’ learning of students for them to improve their knowledge and skills. NEP20202 also lays the foundation for blending technology and education within the K-12 sector by looking to introduce new-age skills such as coding right from an early age. Leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities to up-skill teachers, ensuring they stay relevant and ahead of the curve is a critical focus of NEP 2020.

Within the policy framework for the higher education segment, a credit-based system that allows for multiple entries and exit points within a more interdisciplinary model of higher education is aimed at being achieved. Emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning helps create individualised learning paths for learners, effectively capturing their progress across various courses. Credit transfers between multiple courses would be transparent and seamless with this policy. With these opportunities and many more it is clear that technology will indeed play a significant role in the progress of our knowledge economy, however, the policy’s effective implementation, administration and ground realities have to be looked at before getting excited. Technology must be supported by ICT infrastructure; a critical aspect for digital penetration into rural India.

Leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities to up-skill teachers, ensuring they stay relevant and ahead of the curve is a critical focus of NEP2020

How can start-ups bridge the digital gap in India?

EdTech as a community will have a more significant role to play as we move towards a more incredible Digital India. With the advancement of technologies and workplaces, the need for new skills and new job roles will be even more profound. EdTech being a front runner in pioneering products and solutions for learners across our population helps ensure that quality content becomes accessible to everyone. This was never more profound than the onset of COVID-19 when all educational institutions were forced to shut their gates for students and teachers. Virtual classroom technologies not only allowed a mode of communication between stakeholders but also provided tools to engage and educate effectively—In-turn continuation of the teaching-learning process.

Over time, teachers have shed their inhibitions and learnt to adopt the technology. EdTech players solve the accessibility problem of good quality content by enabling education providers to create immersive content allowing for a broader population to gain access to that was previously challenging to do so.

We have also seen new business models within the industry coming up with new ways to solve old age problems such as effectively managing content repositories, simulated learning, personalised learning, efficiently running the digital process and even remote proctoring assessments. With quality teachers, technology will help them reach out to wider populations while continuing to upskill them to stay ahead of the game.

 

For India to become the knowledge capital of the world, the approach to teaching and learning must be to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills by understanding concepts and being able to apply them effectively.

If you were to critique the current digital trends in school education, how would you pen it?

COVID-19 gave a boost to the EdTech industry. New platforms developed and adopted to continue teaching and learning. However, the lack of digital devices and internet connection has caused a considerable learning gap. WhatsApp has become the most common mode of teaching and learning; nearly 50% teachers use WhatsApp for communicating with their students.

B2C EdTech products have videos and assignments that are generic and not differentiated. The accent of the teachers could be a challenge for the first-generation English learners. Additionally, integration and training the team on products is an area of concern. Even B2B products have inbuilt content that can be a threat to teachers, instead of empowering them.

 

Looking forward to various trends in e-learning, what fundamental differences are they about to bring in education?

With the substantial progress in technology solutions and the funding activity within the EdTech sectors, the community are in a great position to continually innovate to provide disruptive platforms to redesign and revamp content, teaching and pedagogical approaches. The paradigm shift in the model of imparting education would be a move towards flip learning and personalised learning methodologies. Flip learning approaches is a shift from traditional instruction processes by delivering instructions and content online aimed at conceptual understanding, critical thinking and collaboration. Institutions would be able to successfully move towards this ensuring greater transparency, interaction and peer to peer collaboration. Advanced data analytics and AI allows teachers and students to create their own individualised learning paths allowing for a differentiated and personalised learning pathway.

New ways for engaging and empowering educators and learners through gamification and virtual simulations, help lay strong foundational skills in students to apply their knowledge better whilst also allowing teachers to upskill and innovate in their approaches to better engage with the student community.

Eventually, the system of education has to be agile and flexible to align itself with the ever-changing world we live in today. Considering the wide range of IT skills in demand across industries and sectors, technology has provided applications to learners and educators to embrace these changes. The advent of coding platforms and AI tools to upskill graduates on niche job requirements aim at reducing gaps between the turnover of graduates and their abilities to gain employment.

The opportunities that technology currently provides and will continue to do so are dynamic and endless. It is indeed a great time to be a learner as technology through distance learning, online certifications and MOOC courses have ensured that quality content is more accessible than ever before, and that age is no limitation. Learning is truly a journey for a lifetime.

Please brief our readers about Upswing products

With the wide range of applications and touchpoints that can be leveraged by technology in education, as educators and technocrats, Upswing understands how to integrate various technology into institutions seamlessly. At the same time, maintaining the integrity of the legacy systems and approaches of the institutions. A successful implementation is one that solves the problems of educators by not creating more.

Upswing is an ambitious, young (considering that 3 years of operations still makes you a start-up) B2B company offering innovative tech solutions to our education partners across K-12 and higher education segments. Our foundations within the education sector have lasted for over six decades through operating the Ramaiah group of Institutions. As a team of technocrats and academics, we know what it takes to create sustainable solutions for education providers that stays relevant and continues to innovate. Our turnkey solutions encompass content creation and distribution, automated process platforms and AI-based testing and assessment solutions.

Our K-12 education partners across the country use our proprietary ILP (Interactive Learning Platform) a teacher-centric AI-based platform that allows teachers to create, manage and innovate their teaching approaches whilst providing them with actionable insights on students pain points and progress. Upswing’s digital classroom tool, born during the lockdown is another valuable resource that has allowed our teacher partners to effectively conduct and manage their virtual classroom environments by effectively engaging students whilst also being able to assess and evaluate them digitally.

Upswing’s higher education portfolio consist of 3 core solutions. Our upskilling and employability platform Upswing pro; and our comprehensive digital admissions platform is  Upswing admission that allows HEI’s to digitise their complete admissions process right from lead generation, lead management, smart assessment of candidates, digital counselling, all the way up to issuing the offer letter. Lastly, our advanced AI proctored examinations platform that helps in conducting examinations digitally with controls to curb all malpractices.

The founding principle of our company is to ensure that the best of innovative technologies should be made accessible to all education stakeholders that would encourage, empower and help them focus on what they love to do that is to teach.

[Story by Puja Sinha]

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