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Experience Education Differently

By Charu Noheria, Co-Founder and COO, Practically

March 31, 2021    7 min read

India’s education segment is rapidly changing, and online learning has become an indispensable part of it in the post-Covid world, thanks to technological advancements, marking a new chapter for the sector. While other fields struggled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, educational start-ups and teachers found a common platform of e-learning to engage with learners. And EdTech startups are mushrooming at a rapid pace to address the demand in the market.

While work-from-home was not entirely a new concept in the pre-Covid days, school-from-home certainly is! Educational institutions were among the first to shut down and the country was faced with a serious predicament – academic discontinuity for millions of students. Enter, e-learning! The pandemic exponentially accelerated adoption of e-learning. The forecast for technological adoption in e-learning was brought forward by several years. EdTech companies that were agile, adapted quickly to the new circumstances and started to offer more than just online tutoring that existed before the pandemic struck.

With students sequestered at home due to social distancing norms and health concerns, educators had to find efficient and interesting ways to engage them. It became important for solution providers to design products to keep the curious learner engaged especially during the pandemic-induced lockdown.

One reason EdTech companies were able to allow these students to gain access to best-in-class remote learning is technology. With internet proliferation and 95%(1) reduction in data prices since 2014 leading to increased usage of smartphones, e-learning more accessible than ever. About 97%(2) of users now access the internet through their phones. Schools have shifted to online learning and teachers are encouraging students to adopt online learning methods since they are convenient and effective. The future of education is set to be teacher-centric as well, with the advent of online teaching tools which can empower them to deliver high quality content that resonates with students using gamification for example.

Experiential learning

EdTech companies are facilitating live classes, automated attendance, personalized assignments, ready-to-use presentations, adaptive practice and even instant doubt-clearing creating a unified learning solution bringing value to all stakeholders. These advances in e-learning further helps India make the transition to high quality digital education from physical classrooms. Hands-on learning, immersive storytelling, gamification, simulations and videos are the best way for students to absorb, retain and apply concepts.

Experiential learning allows learners to develop knowledge and skills from their own experience rather than from textbooks. This is understandable. When you learn to ride a bicycle or to swim, you never forget because you learnt the skills practically. When you use your body to take apart a bicycle and reassemble it, you learn a skill for life. Similarly, when you watch movies, you retain more – the concepts come to life before your eyes and ears – creating greater retention. How many of us have sat through boring classes and lost interest in subjects because of lack of engagement in the traditional teaching learning process? Experiential learning is interactive, participative and multi-dimensional and therefore increasingly sought after. It is only through experiential learning woven into the curriculum, that students will be better prepared to face the complexities of the modern world. This is where augmented reality (AR) comes into the picture. A recent report said that schools and colleges in India are eager to reopen campuses so that lab work can be completed in time for exams. But amidst the ongoing pandemic, AR is a great solution for virtual lab work as blended learning is here to stay. It also solves for the investment that institutions put into upgrading equipment every few years which translates to just a few lines of code online!

Experiential learning is effective because it closely mimics real-world experiences, structures and monitors those experiences and provides ample opportunities for “learning by doing” and experimenting using AR simulations. AR also helps simplify concepts and increase engagement. Using all these elements produces a powerful learning experience that cannot be replicated by older learning methods. This not only builds deeper conceptual understanding but also enriches exploration within the subject.

Educators are increasingly using technologies such as gamification, augmented reality (AR) to increase the level of interest in students and ensure maximum retention. As blended learning takes over, virtual classrooms with the help of technology, can ensure continuity of augmented learnings experiences. Moreover, data-driven technology can be used to assess the understanding of students and identify gaps in learning through content analytics for personalised teaching and interventions. Features like reports, test-preps, polls, analytics, assigning homework, etc. which empower the teacher to closely monitor the progress of each student is equally important in the monitoring and evaluation process. AI assistants and 24x7 doubt resolution can help students learn at their own pace and encourage asking the simplest of questions to cement their understanding.

Online learning in India has taken a whole new form in the last 12 months propelled by the use of immersive technologies. The advent of technology has paved the way for better, more evolved academic school solutions and the education landscape as we know it, is changing right in front of us.

The article first appeared in The Pioneer newspaper and website on 31 March 2021

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