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. In a conversation with Higher Education Digest, Nishant talks about digital transformation in the India education sector, his inspiration to start Proctur, digital transformation trends to follow in 2021 and much more.
With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, India has started a journey of digitization. Internet penetration is growing rapidly and reaching even the remotest of regions in the country. So far, more than 670 million Indians have gained access to the internet, and it is being estimated that by 2025, 55% of the population will be using the internet.
Consequently, the education sector has also started transitioning to the digital platform. This phenomenon has been further catalyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic that has strong-armed educational institutions into using online learning platforms for disseminating education.
The future is digital
To keep up with the world that is becoming more digitally-driven every day, the Indian government is putting a huge emphasis on digitizing the education sector. The New Education Policy (NEP 2020) seeks to accomplish just that. The policy also focuses on taking quality education to rural areas with the help of technological aids.
This year’s budget has allocated ₹93,224.31 crores to the Ministry of Education, which is an increase of over ₹8,100 crores from the revised estimates for the current fiscal year.
Bridging the digital gap
The biggest challenge that e-learning is facing is the digital gap between the urban and rural areas. Even during the pandemic, several schools and other educational institutions that did not have the digital infrastructure in place were closed for good during the entire lockdown period and they remain closed as the second wave of the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to bridge this gap. We need to make education accessible through digital means for all school students, irrespective of their location, financial background, and internet and bandwidth connectivity. Creating the right infrastructure is the first step and the government is actively working towards realizing this goal. Once the infrastructure is there, all else will follow. Digital education is relatively cheaper and it will help students coming from underprivileged families to gain access to affordable, quality education.
Creating job-ready students
The priorities of higher education institutions have shifted in the past few years. The emphasis is no more on rote learning. Instead, they are striving to create students who are ready to hit the ground running when they enter the industry.
Take certifications, for example. They’ve grown in popularity a lot over the past few years, and thanks to CBT (Computer-Based Testing), it has become easier for working professionals to pursue certifications from the comfort of their homes and offices. This has incentivized pursuing certification courses, which in turn prepare the candidates better for their job.
This is just one example. There are several ways in which e-learning is helping in the creation of industry-ready graduates.
Moving with the times
It is quite surprising that despite the technological advancements that have taken place over centuries of development, the education system has remained relatively stagnant. However, e-learning is bringing about a much-needed revolution in the education sector. Issues like shortage of teachers, inadequate student-teacher ratio, and insufficient teaching resources can all be eradicated with the adoption of e-learning methodologies.
E-learning has broadened the horizons and eliminated geographical constraints. Thanks to e-learning, students, and teachers can connect regardless of geographical constraints.
Computer-Based Testing (CBT) has made examinations fairer, flexible, and more efficient. While schools are yet to adopt this model, it has been embraced wholeheartedly by higher education institutions. Since its application, there has been a significant drop in the cases of paper leaks, cheating, unfair or negligent evaluation, etc. It has also leveled the playing field and students who are physically challenged can fairly compete with other students with the help of digital tools like text-to-speech, screen readers, etc.
It has become overwhelmingly obvious that the future is digital. Embracing the change will help us stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most developed countries of the world.