How Should the Edutech Industry Preserve Momentum During and After the Covid-19 Cataclysm?
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With the entire world witnessing a major disruption of all human activities and pursuits such as education, business, sports, and politics, the devastatingly real impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully absorbed. While this much is understood that global human practices that depended on physical offline channels must take the back seat in favor of online and digital modes of networking and commerce. Schools and colleges too are witnessing a total shutdown to curb the further community transmission of the dreaded virus until the threat neutralizes or is somewhat tamed.
Under such a lockdown of institutional pedagogy, it is an optimum opportunity for the edutech industry to utilize the present circumstances to the highest. It is nothing short of a prospective moment under the sun for the online learning lobby, provided it wholly capitalizes on such a chance offering. With students facing a severe discontinuity of their learning process, it is up to the e-learning platforms to supplement the educational loss of students as well as the professional void of teachers.
As the essential procurers of knowledge, the students as guided by their teachers will naturally turn to online learning modes for continuing their learning trajectory. It is then up to the edutech players to preserve the momentum, even more so after the initial popular and massive adoption of e-learning platforms and new-age knowledge portals amongst the primary stakeholders as the go- to-mode for acquiring education.
Innovation is in
It is pertinent for the edutech industry to constantly modify and revamp its current offerings through tech-driven innovation and salient leveraging of the existing channels of pedagogical dissemination. Edutech entities must strive to incorporate the latest blends of new-age tech advancements such as AI, ML, AR, VR, IoT, and gamification to entice and captivate their learning audiences. By roping in such unique and exciting multimedia and sensual models in online learning processes, edtech platforms help in students learn, engage, and retain knowledge better.
Through a unique collaboration of the brightest teaching minds around the world, these modern day online learning systems can develop a robust and holistic body of virtual content that can answer and instruct whatsoever queries or problems that a student may harbor. By including state of the art cutting edge multimedia and innovation within the online learning ranks, edutech players can also captivate the young and vibrant minds of students, by helping them develop a certain aptitude and liking for the pursuit of knowledge.
Breaking the barriers – traversing new turfs
By inspiring them towards excellence and intellectual merit and ushering a transformational paradigm shift in the general attitude of disengagement and dislike that students reserve towards conventional academia, these modern edtech mavericks are also rendering an exceptional service towards nation building through the promotion of enlightened pedagogical practices.
But at the same time while the edtech industry vehemently caters to the educational needs of students residing in metropolitan cities and hailing from public and privileged schooling systems, it also needs to focus more urgently on the countless more studying in remote and backward areas of the country with little or no access to the culture capital of big-city learners. Online learning platforms must permeate the deepest and far-flung terrains of the country to serve the learning requirements of the have-nots and the marginalized. Only if quality education is equally distributed and channeled proficiently across every part of India, i.e. beyond the metros, the tier-2, and tier-3 cities where it is needed most, can the country hope to become an academically and intellectually realized nation?
Philanthropy before business
To this end, the purveyors of online learning methodologies must offer free of cost learning services to the students from areas shrouded in abject poverty. Providing free courses alone on their platforms will not suffice as more than 20 % of the population still resides below the poverty line index, it should also provide them a veritable and substantial means of access to the online modes of education by proffering free laptops, smartphones, and internet services to the marginalized and the downtrodden sections of the society.
Such a large scale initiative would naturally necessitate the patronage and support of the central and state governments. The authorities at both the level should provide and empower the edutech industry with the essential reprieves, subsidized incentives, and state-sponsored funding to enable such a noble and valiant social venture.
After all, under the present circumstances, the edutech sector as a responsible social entity and corporate lobby must prioritize the welfare and education of the country’s students rather than focusing on achieving business goals and ambitions. These are disturbing times indeed and only those players of the edutech sector will survive such an ordeal who constantly seeks to innovate and augment their current services in accordance with the challenges posed at both a macro and micro-economical level.
And since the pedagogical landscape differs vastly at local and global levels, the online education industry must improvise, invigorate and inspire through an amalgamation of customized and tailored cutting edge services that seek to usher new dawn of disruptive e-learning. Students shouldn’t feel alienated by the transition in the pedagogical modes of dissemination, as it is only through their cooperation and mutual exchange of ideas and visions that the edutech ecosystem can constantly improve itself to serve the needs of a vast country like ours.