Ashok Mittal Chancellor, Lovely Professional University

The education sector is evolving rapidly in the face of ongoing technological advancements. There is a steady shift from blackboards and book-based teaching to interactive teaching based on information and communication technology (ICT). Technologies like cloud, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and big data analytics are playing a big role in this transformation. Some institutions have started deploying these technologies with the aim of enhancing learning outcomes and making the teaching and learning experience rich and exciting. However, the deployment of ICT solutions and tech advancements come with their own set of challenges, the biggest being low digital literacy and limited awareness.  Nonetheless, the potential of ICT as an enabling and transformative tool for the education sector cannot be emphasised enough. Heads of leading educational institutions talk about the emerging ICT trends in the sector, the level of technology adoption and the key challenges…

How have the ICT needs of the education sector changed over time?

The ICT requirements of the education sector have changed radically in recent years. Today, students and teachers are using smartphones, tablets, smart boards and more. Latest classroom technologies allow teachers to be more flexible and pursue several approaches to instruction. Smart devices promote student-teacher engagement through collaborative learning-teaching and creativity thereupon.

What are some of the telecom and ICT solutions used by your organisation? What are your future plans?

A few years back, Lovely Professional University (LPU) was declared the best ICT-enabled university by the Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India. LPU has been awarded for its online University Management System (UMS). Through this platform, we aim to make the university completely paperless and provide a fully automated functional e-governance system that can help in elevating the performance of the staff and students. The aim is to provide a common platform for managing the university’s affairs and sharing ideas among everyone. The UMS platform has improved teaching, learning, curriculum design, assessment and administration. Similarly, we have deployed a relationship management system at LPU, which is used for meeting the immediate needs of students and staff members through requests, complaints, suggestions and more.

As for telecom services, there are more than 800 internet phones installed in all divisions and departments for important communication with LPU’s governing officers. Also, there is extensive use of the public address system through which immediate alerts and information messages can be sent. In classrooms, projectors, interactive smart boards, audio systems and touchscreen systems are some of the other ICT usages at LPU.

How will the deployment of new technologies such as the cloud, IoT and big data analytics shape the education sector? What are some of the key use cases?

New technologies such as cloud, IoT, big data analytics and more are improving upon some existing processes and enabling new scenarios, which were not possible prior to these. Each of these new technologies will impact the learning experience in many ways. With the support of IoT, institutions can enhance learning outcomes by providing rich learning experiences, improved operational efficiency and insight into student performances. There are number of use cases and opportunities across different industries.

What are the challenges faced in managing the existing IT/telecom infrastructure and deploying new technologies?

The deployment of IT infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges as there are always quick changes and new developments in the sector. Technology implementation in the IT era gets outdated very soon as updation happens almost on a daily basis. With the use of every new technology, new investment is required. There are very few open platforms at present and users have to rely on only a given software. In this regard, even the licence fee makes the cost high.

The government is increasingly focusing on smart education and smart classes. What are the key technology trends that will help achieve this goal?

The education space is making a big shift from textbooks and black boards to audio-visual presentations and digital boards. The government is increasingly focusing on smart education and even far-stretched rural schools are witnessing a technological revolution. We feel that with the growing introduction of computers, imparting digital learning and related technologies to students right from their early schooldays will certainly help. In this context, cheaper and high-speed internet access through telecom operators such as Jio has put rural students at an advantage.