Based out of Pune, Maharashtra, Nishant Agarwal is the founder of Proctur, an organization dedicated to providing technologically backed educational solutions, focusing primarily on mass digitization in education. He is a product enthusiast and has more than 16 years of cross-functional experience leading various technology brands in Asia and Europe. He is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with the founding of various startups.
Misconceptions surround the transition of education from textbook-based rote learning to content-based delivery. The biggest error an institution can make is to not assess the relevance of obsolete methods and consider replacing them with better methods of content delivery. Technologies can easily be integrated into a classroom but they would be rendered useless unless the medium of teaching is not upgraded.
In order to go through with such a transition, we must be able to pull all the stakeholders together – parents, teachers, students and administrators and arrive at a collaborative solution to facilitate the process. The solution lies in the basics i.e. in viewing the learning outcomes as indicators of learning. A careful evaluation of these outcomes can help teachers in tailoring content to suit the needs of the students instead of sticking to obsolete ways.
Since the entire content within the scope of the curriculum depends upon what has previously been taught, the development of newer content is only a progressive exercise. At the core of the problem is only the time that needs to be invested in coordinating, meeting, collecting data & feedback, and then creating the upgraded digital content.
After the pandemic struck, the mindset, fortunately, shifted towards adopting newer technologies that could bring the students and teachers closer together. The transformation, however, is not something that can be executed overnight and must therefore commence in 3 simple yet logical steps:
1. Leveraging Open Educational Resources (OERs): The current generation of tech-savvy youngsters is no stranger to digital content. When a cursory reading of the subject matter fails to clarify the concept at hand, they engage themselves with hunting down more material that can provide them with a better understanding of OERs. These OERs may be in the form of videos, infographics or any other form of explanation of which there is no dearth today.
The abundance and ready availability of such content can easily be leveraged by educators and used for the benefit of the students’ understanding. When traditional textbooks fail, such public resources come in handy. The available OERs can be organized and customised to suit the curriculum in use. There must also be one expert entity that can oversee the content creation for each grade such that the gaps between the currently used content, the resulting difficulty in understanding and the newly created digital content are effectively bridged to facilitate learning.
2. Deploying the right Content Delivery Tools: Once the curriculum is in place and finalized by the authorities, educators will need good content delivery tools. Streamlining this process could prove to be a challenge at first but the effort will ensure that progressive development becomes much easier in the years to come.
Several Learning Management Systems (LMS) have already been created and developed which eases the burden off the shoulders of teachers as well as students. A good LMS not only enables creative ways of teaching and learning but also automates several repetitive tasks that are otherwise time consuming and mundane. However, each institution has different requirements and therefore every deployed LMS needs to be customized to service those specific needs. There are also the likes of Google Classroom and Blackboard to facilitate content delivery.
3. Collaborative Implementation: The most critical aspect of implementing digital solutions that go beyond traditional textbooks is a collaborative approach. Deploying newer technologies demands cooperation from the students as well as teachers in tandem. User feedback plays a vital role in the customization and troubleshooting of the issues that may have crept in during the integration of new tools into the existing IT infrastructure. Addressing them is critical such that most common problems that may potentially disrupt education are obliterated. Moreover, newer tools need to be capable of accurately measuring learning outcomes, which is a key aspect in monitoring the progress of students.
Apart from the support of learners and educators, administrative backing becomes instrumental in initiating the entire digital migration in the first place. Transformative changes require not only initiation but also consistent cooperation by the leadership throughout the execution of the project.
Digital solutions must be built around carefully created progress maps and equip institutions with the tools that can measure progress. The deployment of such solutions beyond the textbook is ultimately a time consuming and intricate process, and must therefore be carefully executed.