EdTech: Made in India, Made for the World

Image Credits: BYJU'S

EdTech: Made in India, Made for the World

EdTech in India is still a nascent industry where start-ups have been trying to create new models to add even greater value to its users while addressing their shortcomings in a collaborative manner.

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I know a teacher from Jhansi who teaches mathematics online to students from Tallahassee. To me, she is the most powerful symbol of the growing global stature of Indian EdTech. She is one of the thousands of Indian teachers who are now taking Indian pedagogy to the world. Education technology, or EdTech, is an idea whose time in India has come. This Independence Day, the teacher in me is confident that India will create and nurture a global gurukul throughout this century.

Encouraged by the government's support for new businesses and digital initiatives, many start-ups in the education space are offering EdTech solutions for the entire range of student and school needs. There are nearly 4,500 EdTech startups in India that are helping more than 300 million students become life-long learners. EdTech is also playing a prominent role in improving the employability of India's job seekers. India at 75 is more open than ever to leveraging technology to transform not just how students learn but also how they unlearn and relearn. The National Education Policy 2020 aspires for India to "have an education system by 2040, that is second to none, with equitable access to the highest quality education for all learners, regardless of social and economic background." EdTech is the best way to build our human capital - and, therefore, our nation – in the next 25 years for the coming hundred years.

Traditional education focuses on the act of teaching, not on the process of learning. It erroneously assumes that a student 'not looking out of the window' must be somehow benefitting from classroom instructions. It works with the questionable hypothesis that for every minute of teaching generated there is always a minute of learning disseminated to everyone. It ignores the fact that students in the classroom are at different skill levels and could learn better from personalized education. A student who 'passes' the annual exam with 70 percent marks is 30 percent short of achieving what educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom called 'mastery learning'. The right use of technology allows teachers to use instructional strategies so that all students can achieve mastery. No student is forced to go ahead until they are ready, and no student is held back by other students.

EdTech is not into the business of reinventing education. It just provides a new suite of tools - including artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality - to supplement traditional schooling, instead of substituting it. It allows students to move through the syllabus at a speed commensurate with their ability. Technology has opened up new possibilities by ensuring that everyone in the classroom is participating. The best use case of EdTech is in empowering teachers to do what they do best. Technology, if thoughtfully implemented, can significantly reduce the time teachers spend on fringe tasks by making a real-time evaluation of student data available. Indeed, EdTech can help our education system move away from content-heavy curricula to make space for what NEP 2020 calls "more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-based, discussion-based and analysis-based learning." The increasing adoption of EdTech in India is also a result of access to affordable data packages, the rise in the adoption of digital channels and cashless payments, and the changing user behaviour of a young nation with a median age of just 28.

India's leading EdTech players are today using AI/ML, deep-tech and gamification to better assess learning gaps and provide solutions accordingly. Despite all the media limelight it gets, EdTech in India is still a nascent industry where start-ups have been trying to create new models to add even greater value to its users while addressing their shortcomings in a collaborative manner. There is now a broad consensus emerging that sees 'hybrid learning' as the best of both worlds. By providing a flexible system that allows classroom-based and remote learning to coexist, the hybrid system can address some of the shortcomings of traditional education without leaving any student behind due to lack of internet or device access. Gone are the days when a missed class would lead to a loss in learning.

Because of its universal nature, and because it is building on India's robust academic traditions, our EdTech is a shining example of 'made in India for the world.' The Indian education system caters to the needs of one-sixth of humanity which is as diverse as it gets anywhere in the world. Indian teachers are today globally recognized as high-quality online content creators. Through technology, India's teachers are no longer restricted to collaborating only with other teachers in their schools. They now connect with other educators around the world to share their perspectives and to reach out to the global student pool. Indeed, EdTech is heralding the golden age of Indian teachers who are now enthused and empowered to position India as a Vishwa Guru in this Amrit Kaal.

About the author: Divya Gokulnath is the co-founder of BYJU'S – the world's leading edtech company. As a teacher and member of the board, she is a firm believer in curiosity-led learning and putting students in the driver's seat. After playing a key role in setting up and expanding brand BYJU'S in the Indian market, Divya is now actively building and scaling BYJU'S international business across multiple countries.

A strong supporter of women at work, and mother to two young children, Divya strikes the delicate balance between work and life perfectly.

Featured on Fortune 40 under 40 entrepreneurs 2022 list, and winner of Fortune Most Powerful Women (2022, 2021, 2020), Express AWE Awards - Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Education (2022), MAKERS Women Entrepreneur of the Year (2021), ASU GSV Power of Women (2021) award, Business Today's Most Powerful Women (2019, 2020, 2021) award, LinkedIn Top Voices in Education (2019,2020) (India and Global) and Forbes Asia's 25 Most Powerful Women (2020), Divya is a strong advocate of cherishing childlike curiosity.

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