Narasimha Jayakumar Managing Director,
India, Brainly

Edtech has become a buzzword after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, as students began to enrol on platforms that offered various forms of online coaching. Digital learning is unfolding new ways of learning, teaching and communicating, slowly transforming the system. Advocating this edtech growth are key technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), predictive analysis, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Industry leaders from the education space share their views on key technology trends shaping the sector, opportunities and challenges brought forth post Covid and the way forward….

How is technology transforming the education sector? What are some of the key ICT trends shaping the sector?

Technology has revolutionised the education system, making education accessible to everyone through digitally-enabled classrooms connected to the internet. Today learning is not confined to the four walls of the classroom. With the benefit of current technologies such as AI, ML and VR, one can study from anywhere, at a place and time that is convenient. These technologies can be used to strengthen concepts, doubt-solving skills, practise and research for better learning outcomes. The key trends in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector include the introduction of multimedia in education; AR/VR, which helps teachers to increase engagement with students; and AI and ML, which help students and teachers to optimise and automate learning and teaching tasks.

What are some of the use cases of new age technologies such as AR/VR, IoT and AI/ML in the education sector? How has been their uptake in India so far?

  • AR/VR: In education, AR aids students in quickly acquiring, processing and re­me­mbering knowledge. In addition, AR makes learning more engaging. By layering digital content on top of a graphic depiction of the real world, AR provides us with an enhanced image of our immediate surroundings.
  • IoT: Educational institutions are adopting connected smart devices to supplement the already available e-learning and smartboard infrastructure. The rising popularity of IoT-equipped devices is due to the easy availability and affordability of cloud services. Modern educational platforms are incorporating technologies such as downloadable e-books with zoo­m­ing and saving capabilities, and smart boards in place of blackboards that can be used as a whiteboard to write on with a mar­ker and display subject-related imag­es and graphics to students. These gadgets are linked to a central server, which may control and monitor students’ syllabi and topic categorisation.
  • AI/ML: AI and ML in education offer personalised learning to ensure an individualised educational experience. ML/ AI-based systems are critical tools that generate opportunities to democratise ac­cess to education, personalise it and tra­ns­form teaching and learning processes. ML is a subset of AI that incorporates machine-based learning and decision-making in the context of educational technology. During the past 10 years, the ML/AI market has seen huge developments with big players such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Ser­vices, joining hands with leading edtech players. The personalised learning uses a variety of technologies, including AI, to determine how a student learns best and tailor education to the needs of the student. Blended and adaptive learning are examples of methods that combine face-to-face instruction with digital learning tools that encourage students to learn by discovery.

How are you using new age technologies? What are some of the challenges that you face?

At Brainly, students and parents can use the Snap feature to get step-by-step explanations on any written question, including math problems. Users simply take a photo of the question with the Brainly app and vision AI’s OCR (optical character recognition) analyses the image’s content to extract words and sentences. Brainly then provides an instant AI-match to an answer from the knowledge base or generates step-by-step explanations for math problems in the Math Solver. This is of course a technologically advanced functionality, which requires long and demanding development time and constant optimisation.

What are some of the opportunities that have surfaced in the edtech sector in recent years?

Edtech has reduced the cost of education and democratised it by making it available, accessible and flexible to all, thus, allowing students from various socio-economic backgrounds to have access to high-quality education. India has the lowest internet tariffs in the world, resulting in widespread adoption and penetration even in Tier II and Tier III cities. This presents edtech companies with a significant potential to reach out to students across the country. Meanwhile, the government’s support to the edtech sector in the form of digital literacy and the creation of a knowledge-based society constitute the goals of government programmes such as “Digital India” and “Skill India”. The importance of harnessing technology is also emphasised in the National Edu­ca­tion Policy (NEP) 2020.

Going forward, how do you see the education space transforming in India? What will be the key drivers?

Technology can impact students’ learning outcomes in classrooms and outside of them, across a wide spectrum of levels radically and rapidly. With technology, more people in India will have access to the internet, making it a more inclusive medium. Technologies such as VR, IoT, data analytics, AI/ML, etc., would be used to improve the learning experience. Students will be able to understand even the most complicated theory and do practicals from the comfort of their own ho­mes with the help of these cutting-edge technologies. As a result, technology will aid students in better understanding, allo­wing th­em to retain knowledge longer. Going forward, many new edtech tools are ex­pe­cted to be adopted because of the deployment of modern technologies. These technologies will assist education sector stakeholders in efficiently managing all educational activities.