Prof Asheesh Gupta is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor and member of the Academic Council of JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur. Asheesh earned a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1989 and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. Additionally, Asheesh received a B. Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 1989 and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta in 1994. Additionally, in 2018, he was invited by Cornell University to join the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures as an Industry Scholar. He has had a noteworthy stint with many achievements in his career spanning over three decades across operations, engineering, strategic consulting, general management and Institution building in media and education under his belt.
Several verticals across industries have been disrupted due to the pandemic as it caught the nation off-guard. Many industries tried to keep their boat afloat ever since the COVID-19 virus struck the nation. Thanks to the ever-burgeoning tech scenario in India, quite a few sectors have made it through but if there is one industry that has truly reached new heights, it is the world of education technology.
The education sector’s progress might have been hampered in the initial days of the pandemic, but it has caught up with the coronial era eventually and has been coming out stronger ever since. The education industry has catalysed its evolution by leaning onto technology and amplifying the Ed-tech start-up trend. However, the universities do not seem tense regarding the concern at all. Rather they have their own point of view brewing- the one which reflects how both entities have a different role to play.
The Ed-tech start-up trend
Several start-ups in the form of educational portals, sites and applications have been introduced to students to provide them with education at the comfort of their homes. What started as a temporary solution for the situation has now mushroomed to form a robust Ed-tech domain. New Ed-tech-supported applications are making their way to the market and offering courses to the students. Many people have even started believing that these Ed-tech start-ups and applications will soon take over universities and encourage students to make a complete shift to these platforms.
Ed-tech start-ups v/s educational universities?
Interestingly, there is no room for “v/s”. In fact, both of them cater to different segments of the same industry and thus have different purposes. Ed-tech start-ups focus on guiding the students with the help of modules and content, whereas universities and institutions make it personalised with technology joining hands with the faculty and providing students with a complete mentorship package. Self-learning might be a thing for youth and work out for certain people but education is not confined to mere cerebral development. It goes far beyond it. Emotional growth and social interaction also contribute significantly to the personality of the individual, therefore proving to be a must-have for a student.
In addition to this, universities have embraced technology to reach out to their students, however, they also carry a ray of hope of getting on-ground after the pandemic as this storm will soon run out of rain too.
Universities and Ed-tech are working parallelly towards their respective purposes currently and it will only be wise for them to work cohesively in the near future as well. The structure of the Ed-tech domain is not entirely independent to negate the universities in a snap, and hence, the institutions are not worried to be erased out of the picture just yet. Rewiring any sector and helping it grow its roots digitally is not as easy as it looks. It needs internal reforms and a well-thought, strategically implemented system for any industry to flourish. However, the field of Ed-tech start-ups still has a long way to go from being represented as a solitary leader.
The Ed-tech start-up trend can continue to sustain itself in a hybrid system where universities undertake their role in nurturing students and Ed-tech start-ups offer them tools to hone their skills and become exemplary professionals.
Humans are social beings
The world of online learning, without any question, is still a virtual space, whereas universities promote peer bonding and societal interaction. Universities are coming forward and discussing how their institutions are beyond physical classrooms and encourage internal in-person communication between students that boosts their confidence and provides emotional support. Learning from one another in various formats enables students’ perspectives to grow and provides them with a flexible eye towards a situation, skill or personal/ professional relationship.
It might be possible for Ed-tech to sustain as it allies with universities and practices well-strategized coexistence; however, the sector cannot independently offer life lessons and personal experiences the way universities do, thus making them unique in their own ways.
Application > Knowledge!
Ed-tech, undoubtedly, is aiding students in these challenging times and helping them gain knowledge via websites and portals. But the sector still lacks a personalised response tailored as per individual students’ requirements; whereas universities are taking the lead in implementing their learning with the help of qualified faculty as well as facilities. For instance, university fests and university fellowship programs provide immense exposure to the students, strengthening their base and preparing them for the real world. The real-life experience aids students in filling their canvas of life with the colours of co-existence, team spirit, passion and respect for fellow mentors and students.
Universities instil a sense of being a family, where the emotional wellbeing of a student is triggered towards growth, thus helping in the overall development of the student than restricting the “education” to rote learning or Ed-tech applications. Universities are evolving by the day and restructuring the conventional teaching methods to connect with students on a deeper level. There’s a reason universities are called alma-maters regardless of the Ed-tech sector progressing exponentially in the past few years and being pinned as the modern-day guru.
Universities encourage collective growth while enabling students to follow their hearts and helping them create their success stories their way. On-ground operations of the universities might have been on a sabbatical, but the universities are proactively guiding their students through virtual classrooms and further see a silver lining to hold onto until the COVID is wiped off for good. This might be an unexpected halt for universities, but they are coping well with the circumstances. The institutions are flourishing every day to eventually get back up on the ground with the same enthusiasm after the pandemic becomes a thing of history.