Democratise Technology for Education in the Future to Ensure Digital Education for All, Say Leading Experts

ASMA’s Vice Chancellors’ Summit powered by Dell Technologies was on ‘New-Age Tech-Driven Solutions Enhancing Learning Experiences Post Pandemic’

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Last year, India received a New Education Policy and with the rapid advancements of technology in education, the necessity to understand ways in which learning experiences can be enhanced with the help of technology is extremely important as it will determine the future of learning and education in India and all around the world.

ASMA organized a Vice Chancellors’ Summit powered by Dell Technologies on 13th May. The virtual event was packed with education industry experts including Vice-Chancellors, Chancellors, Directors and CEOs of various leading universities of India. The event was also graced by the keynote address given by Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Education, Government of India.

The event’s discussion was divided into three panels. The topic of discussion for panel one was ‘Strengthening Digital Infrastructure to Meet the Growing Needs of India’s Higher Education Institutions and the panel was moderated by Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Adamas University and comprised of Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, Vice-Chancellor, Vijaybhoomi University, Dr. Vikas Singh, Vice-Chancellor, ITM University, Raipur, Prof. (Dr.). Siddharth Jabade, Vice-Chancellor, Vishwakarma University, Dr. Harsh Sadawarti, Vice-Chancellor, CT University, Prof. Hrridaysh Deshpande, Vice-Chancellor, Ajeenkya DY Patil University and Venkat Sitaram, General Manager & India Leader for Education, Dell Technologies.

The session started with Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Education, Government of India giving his opening keynote address. He said, “This pandemic has proved that technology and education have become integrated. We need to explore how we can democratize technology for education to be available for everyone. We need to integrate EdTech companies and their platforms because they are bringing out personalized automated products that adjust the pace of learning according to the competency of the students.”

Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Adamas University, moderator of the session discussed the issue of the digital divide in India and said, “According to UNESCO, 48% of Indian students were in online education one way or another while the remaining 52% have been completely out of education in the last year. We have to think about reducing the digital divide.”

The session went further with Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, Vice-Chancellor, Vijaybhoomi University discussing the accessibility of digital education to students in India. He said, “We need an integrated response to Covid-19. We have to address the issue of the needs of the students. Anywhere and anytime education is possible only due to technology. The issue is, as we move in terms of education, we need to remember accessibility and affordability. There is going to be deinstitutionalization of institutions in the future as students will be able to take up courses from any University.”

Dr. Vikas Singh, Vice-Chancellor, ITM University, Raipur opined, “The IT infrastructure is still available at most places, but the problem is that teachers and staff are not trained properly to use it. Therefore, tech education does not reach students. Indian Higher Education has been resilient and now they have trained themselves to conduct good online classes. We have to focus on creating our own digital infrastructures to improve and reduce the digital divide and ensure better learning.”

Dr. Harsh Sadawarti, Vice-Chancellor, CT University talked about being psychologically ready for the advancements in technology. He said, “With the advancement in technology, we need education 4.0. We need to be prepared psychologically and mentally to impart education and technology. Adaptability to technology will make it easier to go ahead with blended teaching and learning.”

Prof. (Dr.). Siddharth Jabade, Vice-Chancellor, Vishwakarma University opined, “Our future has been accelerated in terms of education due to the pandemic. We are now in a Knowledge-based economy and the world order has changed. This will take innovations forward and we need to encourage students to work with technology, communication and information to ensure innovation.”

Prof. Hrridaysh Deshpande, Vice-Chancellor, Ajeenkya DY Patil University talked about adapting technology into all spheres of life. He said, “People, technology and education evolve with time and we have to adapt to it. We have to focus on being well endowed with digital technologies and infrastructure and then only we can do something with it.”

Talking about human and machine interactions happening around the world, Venkat Sitaram, General Manager & India Leader for Education, Dell Technologies said, “We are attaining a human-machine partnership. Digital infrastructure is just an interconnected system of technologies and ecosystem. Data security is becoming very relevant these days and we need to ensure safe networks. Academic institutions have to evolve their corporate networks in order to enable students to work and learn there.”

With this, the virtual event moved further paving the way for discussion amongst panellists in an all-women panel. The topic of discussion for panel two was ‘How Technology can Drive Research, Collaborations and Innovative Learning’.

The all-women panel was moderated by Dr. T. Sasipraba, Vice-Chancellor, Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology and comprised of Dr. Preeti Bajaj, Vice-Chancellor, Galgotias University, Dr. Archana Mantri, Vice-Chancellor, Chitkara University, Dr. Meena Rajesh, Vice-Chancellor, G H Raisoni University and Prof. Neelima Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University.

Dr. T. Sasipraba, Vice-Chancellor, Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology introduced the panel with the topic and said, “We are using so many research tools along with technology. Because of technology and scientific tools, the speed for innovation, research and collaboration has increased and we can share it with any part of the world.”

Dr. Preeti Bajaj, Vice-Chancellor, Galgotias University talked about various technologies which will heavily influence the administration and education sector. She said, “AI, data analytics, research, machine learning, cloud computing and data science are some technologies which will dominate education in the coming years. Covid has shown that research collaborations can be fostered without any physical contact.”

Dr. Archana Mantri, Vice-Chancellor, Chitkara University opined, “We are already in the future. We can make large groups of students with common interests virtually to foster creativity and innovation. They should be given goals and should be asked to submit reports because virtually, there is no limitation to space.”

Talking about the need to change assessment patterns in education, Dr. Meena Rajesh, Vice-Chancellor, G H Raisoni University said, “We had to focus on capacity building programs to educate teachers to accommodate them to online learning. When it comes to assessment, our evaluation pattern has to change in collaborative learning. The respect for each subject increased in online learning.”

Prof. Neelima Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University talked about the need to focus on rural India. She said, “When we talk about digital India, we have to make it an umbrella program. We cannot forget rural India in digital youth. Information for all and electronic devices for all will help in truly fostering collaboration.”

With this, panel two discussions came to an end and moved ahead with the topic in panel three. The topic of panel three was ‘Understanding How AI Fosters Experiential Learning in Higher Education’.

The panel was moderated by Prof. (Dr.) Abhay Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, Pratap University and comprised of Prof. Prabhat Ranjan, Vice-Chancellor, D Y Patil International University, Dr. PV Vijayaraghavan, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Ramachandra Institute for Higher Education and Research, Prof (Dr.) Sandeep Sancheti, Provost (Vice-Chancellor), Marwadi University, Prof. (Dr.) Ajay Kumar Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Sri University, Dr. Ankur A. Kulkarni, Vice-Chancellor, Sage University, Indore and Prof. (Dr.) H P Singh, VSM, Vice-Chancellor, The ICFAI University, Himachal Pradesh.

The panel was opened for discussion by an explanation of the given topic by the moderator of the session. Prof. Prabhat Ranjan, Vice-Chancellor, D Y Patil International University said, “We saw AI, augmented reality, virtual reality coming in the future. Providing customized learning will be possible in the near digital future. Introducing new concepts in labs is very important in order to promote visualization.

Prof (Dr.) Sandeep Sancheti, Provost (Vice-Chancellor), Marwadi University said, “AI is now omnipresent. It will be an amalgamation of many things when it will be implemented in education. It is supported by machine learning, big data, speech recognition and intelligence. Few years down the line, students from all fields will be talking about AI and experiencing AI tools.”

Talking about introducing AI in school curricula, Dr. PV Vijayaraghavan, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Ramachandra Institute for Higher Education and Research said, “AI as a principle concept in education has caused a lot of innovation. We have to introduce curriculum changes with respect to AI. We have to move more towards data that is collected from e-journals or online domains. AI in the field of healthcare education has eased out processes like assessment and competency.”

Prof. (Dr.) Ajay Kumar Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Sri University said, “There is no field in which AI can’t be utilized. We are finding out ways to innovate AI according to our preferences. We are still not in a place where the human touch can be completely removed. We have to integrate our body with the machine.”

Dr. Ankur A. Kulkarni, Vice-Chancellor, Sage University, Indore said, “AI helps in removing barriers in terms of experimentation and resources. It is the biggest solution provider. With the help of AI, we can eliminate the digital divide in India because AI strives for perfection. When we will have personalized teaching and learning with AI, it will help in reducing drop-out rates of students in India.”

Prof. (Dr.) H P Singh, VSM, Vice-Chancellor, The ICFAI University, Himachal Pradesh opined, “As of now, in India, AI is maturing. In the NEP, there is a lot of provision for AI, it is beyond comprehension. According to UNESCO, by 2030, all global citizens will have access to quality education. This can only be possible with the help of AI, technology and chatbots as teachers.”

As all the panel discussions came to an end, it was concluded that with time, the digital divide in India will decrease with the democratization of technology in education. Machine learning, robotics, AI and cloud computing are some technologies that will influence various fields of education in the coming years.

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