According to a recent forecast study, the global EdTech market is projected to grow at 17 per cent per annum, to $252bn by 2020. Mirroring this trend, the Indian EdTech market has emerged as a key industry player and is pegged to touch $1.96bn by 2021. Today, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the relevance of the Indian EdTech sector is only primed for more aggressive growth in the years to come.
Given the disruptive potential of technology that is transforming the way digital educational content is created, shared and accessed, it comes as no surprise that the EdTech sector is making rapid strides, led by Internet and mobile penetration.
Technology in education is no longer restricted to mere online teaching portals. Experts believe customised experiences in education will continue to evolve in tandem with growing technology trends in the sector — tools that will enhance learning outcomes. With that in mind, here are five technology trends in EdTech that are shaping the future of innovation in the industry.
Connecting classrooms with IoT (Internet of Things)
Connected cars, intelligent manufacturing equipment with cognitive capabilities and even home smart appliances have one thing in common: IoT. The technology is transforming every sphere of life, and education is no exception. Take for instance the concept of connected classrooms and schools enabled by sensors, digital textbooks and smart tablets, among other real-time communication devices. With the advent of IoT, education, as one knew it, no longer exists. Students can have more meaningful interactions with educators with the aid of connected devices that expand their knowledge beyond the prescribed curriculum.
By leveraging the power of IoT, educators are empowered to create remote learning platforms and engage better with students through seamless classrooms. Further, given the safety concerns facing schools today, IoT empowers schools, parents and student communities to create innovative solutions for a safe environment. For example, wireless locks, time-stamp technology and digitised wristbands are some ways educational institutions are ramping up security on campus.
Enhancing engagement for young learners with gamification
Moving away from traditional rote learning techniques, India’s EdTech startups are flexing their muscles in the area of gamification. Believed to have a positive impact on students’ learning outcomes, this approach is focused on transforming modern classrooms into ‘fun’ spaces. Aids such as simulations, flashcards, storybook and comic-book-style tools and app-based games enable a personalised approach to making education more accessible and engaging.
For example, key EdTech startup player BYJU’s uses gamification for the kindergarten to grade three (K3) market. Customising the requirements for this age group, the startup seeks to employ a variety of gamified content, such as augmented reality and mixed reality games, to capture the attention of young learners. iChamp is yet another digital platform that leverages gamification technology to enhance Maths and English skills among children in the 5–13 years age group.
Revolutionising learning with AR (Augmented Reality) / VR (Virtual Reality)
New immersive experiences in learning enabled by AR and VR are transforming the largely conventional approach to education in India. In a rapidly evolving world where students need to adapt to an automated work environment, it is imperative, therefore, that technology transforms classroom learning in a positive manner.
To illustrate the changing paradigm of education, AR and VR have proved to be highly interactive and effective platforms that have revolutionised learning across age groups. They have empowered self-learning and assisted-learning by making education accessible to all by creating an engaging and personalised environment. For example, Playshifu is an EdTech startup that creates immersive AR experiences through its flagship product Shifu Orboot, an AR-based globe.
A three-dimensional computer-generated learning environment is provided by VR that allows students to virtually ‘travel’ through highly sophisticated computer graphics and high-quality visuals. Hyderabad-based software-as-a-service firm (SaaS) 3rdFlix Visual Effects Pvt. Ltd. uses AR and VR technologies to create fun, interactive and experiential content for grades 6–12. The content covers three-dimensional stereoscopic videos, simulations and AR/VR modules.
Re-defining innovation with blockchain
Education just got more transparent and accountable for educators and students due to blockchain’s ledger technology. The real-time nature of transactions enabled by blockchain helps academic institutions to better manage and verify students’ transcripts, track progress reports, and deploy student loans in a streamlined manner. The technology’s gamification feature has been able to incentivise students to track with their student loans and help educators create an open standard platform for verifying academic CVs, smart contracts and other relevant documents. Crucially, blockchain connects educators and students to relevant courses and educational resources.
One0x is an EdTech startup that leverages blockchain for the seamless and personalised exchange of students’ learning data records across education institutions and apps.
As awareness of blockchain increases across India, besides startups, even academic institutions are adapting technology to make systems more transparent and efficient. For example, the Kerala-based Saintgits Group of Institutions has deployed blockchain to issue digital diplomas and provide scholarships for its student community.
Harnessing the power of AI (Artificial intelligence)
The booming EdTech story would not be complete without mentioning the critical role AI (artificial intelligence) in everyday learning outcomes. AI has been able to ramp up and automate tedious administrative tasks in the education sector, such as grading coursework and evaluating exam papers, among other responsibilities educators tackle in their jobs. Intelligent tutoring systems, enabled by dynamic visual aids, are some of the other benefits of using AI technology in EdTech. The popularity of AI is also seen in the explosion of online classrooms that have made education more accessible and engaging. Such experiential and personalised learning outcomes aided by AI show that the technology is here to stay.
In India, Leverage Edu is a college admission platform that deploys AI for comprehensive college guidance services, including scholarships and mentorship products.
Further, leading EdTech startup Vedantu uses AI to customise content in its virtual online classrooms. Machine learning and big data are other technologies the startup deploys to enhance the personalised teaching methodology model. The AI-led technology has enabled Vedantu to gain key insights into students’ learning outcomes and chart a more result-oriented path as part of its future trajectory.
Even as disruptive technologies seek to transform India’s education ecosystem, globally, India ranks only 104th in the prosperity index in education. Further, notwithstanding the current trend of investors flocking to the thriving EdTech sector, the historical inequality divide in education due to economic and social factors has severely impacted the quality of education in the country.
Given such longstanding issues plaguing the country’s education sector, EdTech startups should continue to strive for an inclusive approach to education through new technology platforms that shift the focus away from traditional learning methodologies. The digital delivery of content through online courses, gamification and tutor portals, among other alternate channels, have gone a long way in enhancing the education landscape in the country.
Undoubtedly, as things stand, innovative digital trends will continue to shape education and transform the way students learn inside and outside the classroom.