2023 will bring AI and gamification to edtech

Over 2023, digital education is expected to take deeper roots in India, thanks to the growing affordability of smart devices and data. Photo: iStock
Over 2023, digital education is expected to take deeper roots in India, thanks to the growing affordability of smart devices and data. Photo: iStock

Summary

Next year could see edtech deploying AI and other high-tech enablers to help transform Indian education in welcome ways.

There are some weeks when decades happen," is perhaps the best way to describe 2022. While we kicked it off adjusting to a post-pandemic world, the year was also marked by challenging macroeconomic conditions and shifting geopolitical dynamics. The disruption that followed compelled sectors across the spectrum to think laterally. The edtech ecosystem turned this challenge into an opportunity by doubling down on core capabilities to take digital learning to the masses.

Over 2023, digital education is expected to take deeper roots in India, thanks to the growing affordability of smart devices and data, cascading benefits of Digital India and an influx of ambitious government programmes such as Swayam, Atal Labs and PM e-Vidya. The edtech ecosystem will continue to be a partner in bringing together world-class pedagogies and technologies to unlock the true potential of India and its students. The best learnings of 2022 can be expected to guide the sector to build newer learning experiences, backed by a few key trends:
 

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Deeper integration of hybrid and ‘phygital’ formats: The rich experience provided by technology will likely reach more classrooms as hybrid learning formats will continue to marry the best of online and offline learning. Hybrid learning will probably emerge as a preferred learning tool for better engagement and flexibility across all levels of education: K-12, test prep, professional upskilling and more. The ‘phygital’ model, combining digital learning with hands-on learning and instructor interventions, is projected to gain ground.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ‘gamification’ will simulate learning experiences: The ability of AI to create impactful solutions for learning cannot be overstated. We can now expect AI in edtech to craft hyper-personalized solutions for students, classrooms and local education systems. This can foster real-time collaborative learning experiences between different student communities, thereby overcoming the traditional constraints of space, time and geography. In addition, augmented reality and virtual reality could push the delivery of such learning programmes really close to reality. Simulated labs, experiential centres and ‘gamified’ content could become the preferred modes for students to explore academics by the turn of this decade. There are many emerging technologies which, when applied seamlessly to education, can facilitate ‘learning by living it.’

The emergence of entrepreneurial mindset training: An entrepreneurial mindset unlocks critical thinking, problem-solving and an ability to create tangible solutions on a global scale. With India featuring among the top entrepreneurial economies in the world and home to 250+ million school-going children, fostering an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ among future generations is imperative. Thanks to the pioneering National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, we can expect pedagogies to focus on how education systems can foster creativity and entrepreneurial thought among children through academic and non-academic interventions.

Increased inclusivity in the learning ecosystem: One of the most important trends of 2023 to look forward to will be the integration of previously excluded student communities into mainstream learning with technology. This effort towards inclusive and accessible digital learning is also enshrined in NEP 2020, making way for children with physical or learning disabilities, those on the neurodivergent spectrum, or who come from underserved communities to receive learning opportunities in languages of their choice and curriculums crafted for their unique needs and abilities. With an estimated 900 million internet users in India by 2025, the opportunity to bring children who are on the fringes of education into the mainstream is huge.

Educating the educators: Since 2020, teachers globally have experienced a steep upward curve where they have learnt how to integrate technology into their classrooms. As this trend continues, there will be a concerted effort to upskill teachers in the use of tech-enabled pedagogical techniques that bring their classrooms firmly into a post-pandemic world. Simultaneously, we can expect an increase in regional language teaching in line with provisions made for it in NEP 2020.

Moving from STEM to STEAM: During the rest of this decade, there will be a sharper focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programmes that help students develop competencies holistically. With future workplaces requiring skills that not only visualize and solve problems, but also understand their human impact, these subjects will be important for students. By being at the intersection of media, technology and education, edtech is well-positioned to lead this trend. Through interactive digital programmes that leverage audio-visual learning, students can be introduced to topics like empathy, teamwork and collaboration just as well as biology, physics or math.

Social and emotional learning in mainstream education: Social and emotional learning will come to the forefront as students and institutions reel from the effects of the pandemic. Instilling tools for empathy and behaviours that help in community-building will become a vital goal in the education that institutions impart. Edtech can play an important role in this endeavour by providing tools that help students and teachers remain connected to each other virtually as well. Also, by leveraging tech-enabled collaboration tools, edtech can help educators design projects and coursework that can inculcate better social skills in their classrooms. This will extend the efforts of creating a safe, healthy and functional social community within schools and institutions of learning.

With the world increasingly turning digital, education is undergoing a widespread transformation. What is especially exciting for the edtech sector is the depth of this transformation. It is set to create a billion-plus lifelong self-learners in India. We can expect 2023 to be the year that edtech goes deeper into the heart of education to help more students unlock their true potential.

Divya Gokulnath is co-founder, Byju’s.

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