Ninad Vengurlekar. CEO and Cofounder, Utter

Ninad brings in 18 years of edtech experience in K-12 and skill development sector. He was one of the pioneers of mobile learning in India when IL&FS Education launched the world’s first English learning course on feature phones in 2009. The course was subscribed by over 3 million paid users in 3 years. At Utter, Ninad heads Sales and Business Strategy. Ninad is a Masters in EdTech from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an MBA from NMIMS. In an exclusive interaction with the Higher Education Digest, Ninad talks about the importance of technology in education and many more.

 

  • What are some of the major problems/challenges plaguing educators today?

The mindset of educators is that of a follower. They keep searching for leaders to take charge and change the status quo.

Educators are best suited to change education, but they tend to be risk-averse and look down upon entrepreneurship as a for-profit activity unsuited for academicians like them.

  • In India, not all students have equal access to technology. How can we achieve digital equity in India?

Just one word: Low cost high bandwidth smartphones (The Jio model) If we have to offer access, we should subsidize the access points like smartphones and bandwidth.

  • What are the biggest changes you have seen in educational technology since you started you career in this field?

The biggest change has been the acceptance by educators that the technology can be used to teach, learn and provide access to education to all.

  • At present, what works well in educational technology? What can be improved upon?

Edtech in itself is a medium. What works well is how good humans are able to drive edtech to achieve educational outcomes. Edtech need not be improved, academic quality needs to be improved.

  • What is technology doing to help learner-centered education, and where can it improve?

Education tech is the best option for delivering centered education. It can be used as a front in for self-learning or as a backend tool to help teachers discover the progress of each child/student in the class. Sadly, most tech solutions are built with the intent to replace teachers. So, the growth in Ed-tech needs to integrate humans to deliver better learner-centered education.

  • There has been a lot of talk about meaningful use of technology today, how would you describe meaningful use?

Meaningful use to me depends on the context of the stakeholders. To a student it is quality of content and personalized learning, to a teacher it is the understanding of learner’s journey and to an administrator, it is progress reports. Meaningful use can happen only when technology delivers outcomes to each stakeholder to deliver a combined impact on the quality of education delivery.

  • How do we educate our students and educators so they can keep up with the rapidly changing pace of ed-tech? What is your advice to them?

Never use tech like a textbook. Tech can deliver more than marks. It can deliver knowledge, wisdom and even material outcomes like jobs, admissions, joint projects and internships. Tech is not just about content, but connections and networking as well.

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