Mar - 30 , Prof. Dr. Parvinder Singh
Technology has stood as a saviour for higher education across the globe during adversity. It has assured that those functional aspects of education do not come to a grinding halt. The Institutions which invested in technology were able to execute their education continuity plan without any hindrance. It is well-recognized that the rate of technology adoption in higher education institutions remained nascent and was moving at a snail's pace until the world was struck by pandemic COVID-19. With the sudden closure of educational institutions, many institutions' leadership switched over to technology within a few weeks. It was the fastest adoption of technology across all sectors. People were quickly trained, the Edtech industry was already knocking at the doors with relevant products. The bandwidth was upgraded to fit the new requirement, and students adapted quickly to the new reality. However, inclusive access to technology & gadgets was a challenge.
Today, technology has transcended every function of the education ecosystem. Technology has obviated the need for physical presence or face to face interface for many functions in education. All those aspects of education that looked beyond the technology domain's scope a few years back are profoundly performed with the help of technology today. The academic delivery, examination/ assessment of all types, including practical exams & demonstrations, admission process, fee payment, documentation, staff selection, PhD progress & thesis presentation, inspections, ERP support, communication and many more, are performed with the help of technology. Further, Blockchain technology will provide facilities like digitization (academic records) of degrees and mark sheets in the future. Even the verification of such documents will be done online. The students & institutes may not require any physical copies of such documents in future.
Blockchain technology shall be great support & aid for the faculty members in the teaching & learning process. It is expected that the role of educators in content memorization & content creation will be taken care of by Blockchain technology. Therefore, the educators would need to shift their role as facilitators in the learning process, i.e. Aggregators to guide and develop higher-order thinking/ intellect of the students.
Finally, the next big thing in technology for the education sector will be immersion technologies like Virtual Reality (V.R.), Augment Reality (A.R.), Mixed Reality (M.R.) & Extended Reality (E.R.). These 4D technologies will simulate the accurate or actual context or environment of a research space or laboratory or a machine or a human body under controlled conditions.
These technologies would help students see, observe, demonstrate and use the tools to perform the task as if they are doing it in actual context. Therefore, in many learning situations, students will observe and undertake a task that helps them improve their understanding and application abilities. The immersive technology is likely to redefine the student's learning experience by developing core/ critical thinking. A.I. algorithms in academia can help process tremendous amounts of student-generated data and help tutors identify bottlenecks and development opportunities for students more precisely. As a support tool, A.I. will undoubtedly cause a positive shift toward data processing automation, enabling teachers to pay more attention to their student bodies. With AI entering all sectors, higher education is no exception. From the way institutions worldwide have adapted to concepts like virtual assistants and augmented reality in classrooms, it is clear that these technological leaps are here to last.
Several Indian start-ups are now offering A.I. technologies to provide students with a better learning experience from the comfort of their homes. It has been beneficial, especially during the pandemic. However, COVID-19 was not the first time universities adopted the A.I. approach. However, the current technology is still evolving and under experimentation. It is cost-prohibitive and has few technical constraints. Nevertheless, I am sure the next decade & beyond will be immersion technology that will rule the campuses.
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