Technology as an enabler
- The integration of technology in the teaching-learning process for enhancing teaching-learning outcomes is an important policy prescription of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
- The NEP emphasises the vital linkage between education and technology.
- An autonomous body called National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) will be entrusted with the task of advising institutions on the use of technology, capacity building, providing directions for research and innovation and creating avenues for exchange of ideas.
- The lack of resources like digital devices and internet connection can act as structural hindrances to access of technology-based education.
- The urban-rural disparity in the conduct of online classes is alarmingly high indicating the disparity in access.
- Students from marginalised social groups face severe challenges due to academic non-integration.
- A large share of the student population is from the lower social strata of society. A significant proportion of these students are from government schools, under-developed regions, remote villages and urban margins. They are more likely to have had the regional language as a medium of instruction in schools. Given the predominance of English as the medium of instruction in digital learning modes, such students face difficulties.
- Given that the institutional mechanisms to bridge the gaps are also inadequate, there is a lack of access to quality educational experience and equitable academic outcomes.
Arguments in favour:
- Digital education is capable of tackling the temporal restrictions on learning.
- In technology-mediated learning, the pace of the learning is mostly not determined by the teacher and the students can learn at their own pace. They have the freedom to learn according to their convenience.
- This feature of self-paced and student-centred learning can provide greater support to marginalised learners and help teachers to assume a new role of the facilitator.
- The technologies like big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning can help tailor the courses as per the student’s abilities and interests.
Reach students in remote areas:
- Digital education is also capable of tackling the spatial restrictions on learning. E-learning opportunities can allow students from rural areas and hinterlands without the means and resources to shift to cities for educational purposes an opportunity to learn from the best institutes.
Affordable and quality education:
- The e-learning system would be able to reach a higher number of students at much lower costs. This could ensure affordable and quality education for everyone.
- Opportunities provided by digital technology can act as a potential source for promoting egalitarianism in higher education if access to technology is democratised and values of inclusion are institutionalised.
Better learning outcomes:
- The skill gap of graduating students is often pointed out by the industries.
- Technology can play a key role in providing additional learning inputs. This could enable better learning outcomes among the students.
- Eg., the use of virtual reality technology can help students visualize real components and processes, helping them understand the concepts better.
- Though the NEP’s emphasis on technology is a welcome step, the context and purpose of technology adoption are equally important steps.
- Universities and colleges should invest in ICT infrastructure keeping the larger goals of affordable, quality and inclusive education.
- This can help ensure the country’s transformative journey towards a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.