From technology education to education through technology – L. Balasubramanian, Former president, Schools Learning Solutions, NIIT
A graduate in applied sciences from the Faculty of Engineering, College of Engineering Guindy, L. Balasubramanian, Former president, Schools Learning Solutions, NIIT, has more than 30 years of experience across IT industry segments. In NIIT, he worked “closely with governments and private institutions to empower more than two million young minds, using technology, across 7,000 schools in India.” Prior to NIIT, he held roles at DCM Data Systems and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization).
During a brief interaction with YourStory, Balasubramanian shared his views on technology in education.
When technology first came in, we had to create IT skills. But, as technology became prevalent and mobile, we have what we call digital natives. Such as, kids who don’t know about papers, and magazines, they know only about mobile. To a generation that is used to iPad, the magazine will look like a broken iPad. We are digital aliens, and digital immigrants; how are we going to understand the digital natives. That is the first challenge.
Technology and skill can be applied in broadly four segments, viz., schools, higher education, vocational skills, and finally at work. And, let us remember that we are not talking about technology education, but education through technology. This requires a good design; you can’t duplicate what is in the real world. Lot of science and design has to go into the content.
A major problem in India is power. Schools may spend more on power than on connectivity. Then, there is the cost. Yet, in a situation of rising land prices and faculty remuneration, it is investment in technology that can give the best returns.
In India, I think, a blended model that uses both technology and people will be apt. We need to use people and faculty to deliver technology in education, because there is always the last-mile problem in some form or the other. The person who works out the last-mile problem sustainably will succeed.
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