The role of education in human capital development has been largely acknowledged for decades. However, the education industry, unlike other industries, has been a slow adopter of technology. Though this trend is changing for good, but we need to ask is the change fast enough (considering what’s at stake – the human capital is key to a nation’s empowerment)?
No doubt, the last decade has seen an increase in awareness about eLearning solutions among students, teachers and other stakeholders in education ecosystem. Students are seeking online courses as part of their self-study routine to supplement their school learning. Some schools are investing in ERP and digital classrooms. These are the first crucial steps towards harnessing technology in education sector. Though these are encouraging signs, quite clearly technology solutions in education are still in a supplement (at best ‘enablement’) phase. Embracing technology is still viewed as optional by these stakeholders especially by school authorities and administration. Cost is often mentioned as a deterrent, though such claims are usually based on subjective feeling than objective analysis. Many students are enrolling for massive open online courses (MOOCs) – to supplement their school learning with self-paced digital lessons, but statistics show that a significant percentage of these learners are casual in their approach. Students don’t allocate similar priority to MOOCs course, as they may to their classroom /college courses. Such half-hearted infusion of technology in education needs to change.
It is not the case that the eLearning solutions have some inherent technical limitation that is affecting their mainstream adoption – technologically, these solutions are top notch for their time and have potential for disruptive innovation. However, this technology penetration needs to be architected in the formal learning system. A positive step in this direction would be from school authorities and education boards to acknowledge eLearning as a valid and mainstream medium of imparting education and even student evaluation (some universities provide proper course credits for MOOCs – just like classroom lecture based courses). The teacher community also needs to dispel the idea that technology solutions can hamper the human element of teaching. In fact, many teachers are warming up to MOOCs as such medium allows them reach out to volumes of students (spread across globe) that is exponentially higher than a lifetime of classroom teaching.
The impact that technology can have in advancing education industry will remain limited, unless role of technology is not universally acknowledged as essential ingredient rather than an optional ‘good-to-have’ addendum.