EVENT DATE : 23 NOVEMBER
• The debate began with the question of why India’s education system is still lagging behind and how technology can solve this crisis. Mr. Sandeep Rai began the debate with some statistics about India’s education sector, he states a little under 70 percent of students in India drop out before the age of 10 and a little over 10 percent of students do not even make it to college. It is important to understand the magnitude of what we are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified the issues that plagued our education sector. Learning was shut down for a very long time for many students. Technology undoubtedly helped during the Pandemic and it facilitated online learning. However, he argues that “teachers are everything”. Technology is best when it augments the teachers. Technology allows teachers to differentiate between students. Technology in mathematics teaching especially has helped a lot. Technology however caters only to students who are more autonomous, more skilled and more invested, not for average students. Technology in education has a lot of promise but it has a long way to go.
• Ms. Manila Carvalho then argues that technology during the pandemic came to schools as a big boon. However, for primary students, they require social interaction and the touch of a teacher, this is not provided by technology. Younger students should be brought to schools, only then will they get the full experience of learning. She believes that technology has allowed teachers to go beyond the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ method, but it should only play a supporting role in the learning process.
• Mr. Kunal Gupta argues that India has a huge market of students and we do not have adequate number of teachers, ed-tech has actually increased the number of teachers who are there in our country, many people who want to be teachers but could not leave their residences could now become teachers, thanks to technology. He believes that the future will see a mix of online and offline, the hybrid model is something that will be soon normalized. He believes that education has been enhanced by technology.
• The discussion then moved to supplemental learning technology and the cost of accessing these supplemental learning tools, a major concern is that students who can afford these tools will benefit and those who can’t afford it will be left behind. Mr. Kunal argues that supplemental learning tools are the same as a student going for tuitions and it should not be seen as a thing which creates a gap between the haves and the have nots. People are learning many new skills thanks to technology, because knowledge has become more accessible and open to people. Mr. Sandeep agrees that there are many benefits that technology has brought however students who do not have enough connectivity and infrastructure will lose out on many opportunities, he believes that technology is widening the gap between the haves and the haves not. He argues that if the teaching and learning process is broken into a supply chain, the delivery of content is only one part of it, it is here that technology has helped a lot but technology does not help in many other areas of the learning process. Ms. Manila adds in and says learning from home has reduced the accountability that students have, which has created a learning gap.
• The discussion then moved on to teachers and if teachers are trained enough to use technology. Ms. Manila believes that technology cannot replace teachers, but the teachers who know the technology will replace the teachers who do not. She supports training programs for teachers and educators, to help them use technology more effectively. She believes that teachers should adapt to technological tools and should be willing to learn how to use technology
• Another benefit of ed-tech has been personalization of education but lacks student accountability, Mr. Kounal Gupta argues that there are learners who are more motivated when they learn in non-traditional methods. He also argues that with low costs of internet in recent years, it helps students learn from experts very easily.
• Another thing that Ed tech has done is that it has ‘gamified’ learning, however many online game-based learning apps have not been tested correctly. Ms. Manila argues that a specific committee needs to be set up to study the impact that these gamified education tools have on student learning. Mr. Sandeep believes that it is good that gamified education is good and has made learning fun, which helps students and gamification has a lot of potential but the technology is still not good enough to cater to all types of learners. Mr. Kunal Gupta argues that gamification has helped students learn things and motivates them, he believes that gamification technology will keep on improving with time and will eventually be an effective tool which can be used.
• The final discussion was on how Ed-tech can be made more inclusive, Mr. Sandeep argues that major investments need to be made in EdTech firms which aim at democratizing the ed tech space. Investments in infrastructure and connectivity need to be made too. Ms. Manila says teachers need to be trained more as well. Mr. Kounal Gupta argues that there needs to be more focus on hard and soft skills and learning needs to be more relevant for students, he believes that EdTech can really help in soft skills development as well