Dawn of edTech, enabled technology to push education on the back foot?
Technology would kill education. It would take away the livelihood of many teachers!!
These are some of the many apprehensions against Ed-Tech. ed-Tech is an emerging space that has received a significant boost ever since the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc in the world.
In the past 15 months, most of the education across the globe has been delivered in online mode. If it was not for tech, the education industry would have come to a jeering halt just like the travel industry.
But irrespective of all the benefits of technology in enabling education, there are some fearful emotions around the ed-Tech industry.
In this blog, we would take a brief look at the Indian ed-Tech space, its growth potential, the phenomena of education & technology and the fears around ed-Tech.
Indian ed-Tech Industry
In the year 2020 when COVID broke out across the world and pushed people to stay locked inside their homes, and many industries in India incurred significant losses, India’s ed-tech startups raised more than 2.2 USD billion in funding. The poster child of India’s ed-Tech space BYJU’S raised over $1.35 billion.
Companies like BYJU’s, Vedantu, and Unacademy experienced massive growth during this time.
The current market size of India’s ed-Tech industry is about $700–800 million. As per a report released by transaction advisory firm, RBSA Advisors India’s ed-Tech industry will grow to become $30 billion in size in the next 10 years,
India has 4,530 plus active ed-Tech start-ups. Many new & unique business models have emerged which are trying to create value propositions for tutors and students in different ways. ScholarBees is one of the newer entrants which attempts at aligning freelance tutors with students at a massive scale.
Even the (National Education Policy) NEP 2020 acknowledged the need for technology in the dissemination of education while recognising its potential dangers.
But the fear that emerging technologies in the ed-Tech space would push education on the back foot and technology would become more important is irrational in my opinion and before I explain why I think so, let’s first focus on the meaning of education and technology.
What is Education?
Education has its roots in Latin words Educare, and educere. The meaning of Educare is ‘to train or to mould’ while educere means ‘to draw out or to lead’.
In Sanksrit the term Vidya (विद्या) comes from Vid which means to know. As per a shloka in Vishnupuran the definition of Vidya is (सा विद्या या विमुक्तये) Meaning the one that frees us from our bondages is education. This freedom is basically the freedom from ignorance, from our assumptions, from our own vices.
Another shloka says (विद्यां ददाति विनयं) meaning education is that which makes us humble.
So if we try to understand the deeper meaning of education then it is not just acquiring certain skill sets. Education is not learning Java or learning how to make a drone. These things are the processes of acquiring certain skill sets, which can be learnt through physical or digital means.
But education is much deeper and broader than this. Education is the phenomena through which a student is nurtured intellectually, physically, emotionally, culturally, socially, and spiritually to turn into a responsible, humble and kind human being.
A teacher doesn’t just impart us the skill of writing, reading, and being able to do a certain job skillfully. A teacher also imparts to us the life lessons, the value system, which have a way more profound impact on a person’s mental, social, & spiritual well being.
Skill development and education are two different things but they are being used interchangeably for the past decade. But we need to understand the fundamental difference between these two.
Skill development prepares us to make a living, education teaches us the way to live.
Now let’s understand the meaning of technology.
What is Technology?
Technology comes from two Greek words. These two words can be transliterated to techno and logos. The meaning of techne is ‘art, skill, craft, or the means by which a thing is gained whereas logos means the discourse which reveals the inner thought process.
Hence in literal terms, technology implies a discourse about the way things can be attained or made.
Homer and Hesiod defined technology as the spoken word of manual craft or cunning skill. In 330 BC, Aristotle came up with the Greek term technologia. He split scientific fields into three parts, namely: theoretical science, practical science, and productive science/technology.
In the modern context, if we look at it, technology is the logical process of creating methods to transform matter, energy, and data to accomplish certain desired results. The results could be material goods or intangible digital products.
So technology in layman terms is the collective knowledge of mankind that empowers us to use the resources around us to create the desired output or solve some problem for the benefit and convenience of mankind.
Education is more fundamental than technology
Brushing up the past two concepts quickly:
Education is the knowledge that empowers us with the tools, attitude and understanding to live a contented life as a socially, and culturally responsible individual.
And technology is the collection of knowledge that helps us create stuff, resolve issues and make human lives easier.
So if you look at it then education is much more fundamental than technology. Technology can not thrive in an atmosphere where education is not valued. The knowledge of how to lead a life comes before the knowledge of making a car so that you can travel easily.
Technology as an ecosystem has enabled and empowered various underprivileged sections of society to learn skills that were inaccessible to them a decade ago.
Now, even Mahesh from a small town in Arunachal Pradesh can learn Adobe illustrator online and use that skill for doing a range of freelancing paid projects. And Rohit from Meghalaya can learn and teach dance online.
I can write this blog and share it with the audience. You can learn from many such blogs out there.
So technology here is acting as a facilitator for acquiring skills, providing services, sharing information with each other and communicating in numerous ways.
But it is in no way replacing the touch, feel, and seeing each other in person. Technology is not replacing the teacher because it can not. It can only empower teachers to be in touch with their students digitally when physical contact is not possible.
So technology is a facilitator for us. I am not saying it should not be regulated. Tech development should definitely be regulated but technology and innovation should not be feared.