Sesh Seshadri, managing partner & CEO, Overleaf Books LLP, recently attended the BETT show in London. The visit was primarily to immerse himself in the experience, walk the halls in order to learn, touch & feel the range of digital solutions for Primary & Secondary schools, Colleges and Universities. Here, he shares few of his experiences and innovations he saw at the show. We know that these are challenging times for schools with budgets being tightened and teachers facing the challenge of having to deal with technology in education. How will schools choose resources and embrace emerging technologies?
Those in the education space know that every day we hear of a new technology enabled product or service that promises to change our lives. This may be true when we look at our behavior with respect to mobile phones. We wake up and reach over to our phone before our coffee or tea. When TV arrived, we complained and said that reading habits have dropped. But no one is talking about the distraction/encroachment that digital technology has brought on us. In this context, we should review the impact of technology on our children and how they learn. The advancement of technology should be seen as a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference in the educational system. It is clear that teachers and teaching staff are the real essence of our educational engagement and will continue to be the medium through which +REAL learning will be meted out to our children, whether it be print, audio-visual or digital learning. Technology has become a central part of teaching and learning in many countries. In India, we might say that doesn’t mean it should be front and centre in the classroom.
Digital learning solutions
I recently attended the BETT show in the UK, which brings together people, ideas, practices and technologies to enable educators to become game changers. There were many seminars, product displays and demos. BETT showcased the state of education technology around the world. The adoption or likely adoption of emerging education technology was loud and clear. What is the cutting-edge innovation and what is being debated in education and learning methods? There were too many digital companies providing easy, engaging and effective learning solutions. Not surprisingly, every company promised 360 degree solutions for in-school and after-school learning.
Exclusively for schools and families, cashless online payments were a great product. India should look at this technology closely. This will record every single payment the school collects and will bring transparency to the system. Good technology to bring an end to capitation fee, donations and other fraudulent fees that parents typically have to shell out today.
STEM vs. STEAM
The accepted terminology for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, has been STEM for a while now. Recently Art + Design have been identified as emerging faculties as well. With the addition of Art + Design, STEM has now transformed to STEAM.
There was also an evident proliferation of technology like Robotics, Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR). Their applications are not completely clear in the education space just yet but I don’t doubt that they will have an influence.
The major attraction at the show was Raspberry Pi, the low-cost, (just over a) credit card sized computer that was developed to encourage kids to learn how to code. Priced around Rs 2999, this has sold over eight million according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation which is a UK based educational charity.
On a concluding note…
Should we look at technology for technology’s sake? If teachers are the influencers of child’s education, let them have access to best content in the form they like. The question is: is the technology galloping forward exponentially? How far will it help Indian students, schools and colleges – maybe something for the tarot card readers to deliberate over (Not digitally I hope)!
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