Trends 2021: The 2 most important aspirations for edutech: Achin Bhattacharyya

The year 2020 has been easily the most devastating one in our lifetime, the magnitude of this humanitarian crisis has been like never before and the light at the end of the tunnel still looks distant and bleak. 

The crisis has led to schools being closed for almost a full year now, but thanks to online education, schooling continued, with teachers rising up to the occasion and many edutech brands across the country making their content absolutely free for access by students. 

Not only has the pandemic acted as a catalyst and fast tracked the digital adaptation it has also established the believability and credibility factor of EdTech as a viable support system beyond any doubt or debate. 

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I guess there are two predominant gaps that have surfaced and the Edtech trend of 2021 will revolve around servicing these needs. 

Creating Value adding teaching aids to empower teachers 

Edtech brands need to empower the teacher by creating value adding teaching aids which aim to support and not replace the teacher. Also, the huge wealth of knowledge and experience of our esteemed educators need to be more effectively utilised by edtech brands. A teacher’s role has also changed from an information provider in a brick and mortar setting to a facilitator or moderator in an online setting. However, the importance of schools and teachers cannot be denied as personal touch is really important for the emotional well being and overall growth of a child. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the need of the hour is to empower them and use technology as an enabler, which will help the best of educators from across the nation to reach out to students who need them the most cutting across all barriers of access, affordability and relevance, and that is where Edtech as an industry will find its true purpose and solace. 

Bridging the digital divide 

The pandemic and online schooling has also highlighted the reality in terms of an evident digital divide with challenges in terms of Internet or device access coming to the forefront in many rural and aspirational areas – I guess all stakeholders of our civil society need to work together to bridge this gap. 

I guess as an industry we need to work actively on the vernacular content space in order to ensure effective reach across all layers of the socio economic pyramid. Language is only a medium of expression and thus, it shouldn’t act as a barrier in terms of developing a child’s thought process. 

It is important to be a global citizen, but it’s also important to perverse and nurture local culture and traditions without which we as a nation will lose our true identity. The death of a language leads to the extinction of a culture. 

Telecom companies and device manufacturing companies also have a huge role to play, active collaborations with Edtech players is the need of the hour to bridge the digital access gap. 

Social sector/ NGOs - It really takes a village to raise a child, also the benefits of learning really is perpetual not only for the child, but also for his family and community. Thus, on the ground active resource sharing and spreading the good word is important to make a scalable and substantial impact. 

Also, it is necessary to ensure relevance of online education from the perspective of the user, as one-shoe-fits-all approach really doesn’t work in today’s age with seamless and democratic flow of information at our disposal. 

Each child has a unique learning curve and learning needs that need to be recognised, respected and nurtured. It is time to reverse the trend – educational offerings have to take that extra effort to customise itself to develop customised learning paths using tools like artificial intelligence. 

Adding value to all stakeholders (including teachers) and bringing a smile to a child’s lips by simplifying his or her life are the two most important aspirations for edutech in 2021. 

(Achin Bhattacharyya is CEO and Founder of Notebook, a mobile-first digital learning product that combines video and text content to deliver best-in-class education tailored to Board curricula.)


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