Digital Transformation In Academia

Manish Kothari, Managing Director, ISBR Group of InstitutionsISBR Business School, one of top business schools in India takes pride for creating an atmosphere wherein both students and faculty can pursue boundless knowledge, a single roof where theory and practice goes hand in hand to present better understanding about oneself and world around him.

Technology has had a massive impact on today's world, which is evolving and being transformed continually. There is not one sphere of human life that digital advancements have not impacted, and the education sector is also caught in this whirlwind of change.

Present Generation
The current generation is bounding with energy and is constantly on the go. Educators have a challenging task at hand, to harness this boundless energy, and are trying to use all the ways and means at their disposal to channelize this energy and put it to productive purposes.

Advancements in Technology
Technological advancements are a godsend for the academicians, who can deploy the most modern tools to accelerate the learning process. They can now deploy digital teaching strategies that can be personalized to suit specific needs.

New Dimensions
Teaching and learning today have new dimensions, thanks to digital advances. Moreover, the all-pervading social media propels revolutionary trends in the field of education. Learning is no longer boringly instructional; it is excitingly self-exploratory. Spending time in a library or leafing through a book for information is passé. Today's crowd reaches out to the Internet for any sort of information, which can be accessed in a matter of minutes.

Universal Appeal of Internet
Internet is one of the greatest sources of information today. It is ridiculously easy to turn to Google, YouTube or Wikipedia for any sort of information, so much so that they have become the new sources for learning at a global scale. With the inception of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), there's a revolution happening in the field of education. MOOCs have enabled interactive courses and have created a better communication channel between the teachers and students.

The Role of Internet in Classrooms
Today, every other classroom has access to Internet. Teachers find the Internet to be a significant learning tool and there is no doubt that connectivity has added a new dimension to education. Real time queries are answered in a jiffy and teachers find the Internet to be a modern invaluable tool. All the traditional classrooms now function as modern, smart classrooms where ultra-smart IoT (Internet of Things) devices are used to track metrics and attendance, all with a mere click of a button.
The Personalization of Learning
Personalizing learning can bring about a radical transformation in teaching and learning, offering greater opportunities to the students of today. There is a change in the instructional approach, which can be optimized to benefit the learner better. In the current scenario, learning activities make more sense and are a lot more relevant to the learners, with their interests being of utmost importance. The pace of learning can be adjusted to suit individual needs and it is more an interest-driven pursuit for the learner than ever before.

Blended Learning
Blended learning is a smart combination of traditional classroom learning and smart online learning. Students can now, to an extent, control the pace and place of learning to suit their needs. It is up to the teachers to formulate an optimal blended learning model with a combination that suits the teacher and the taught. While face-to-face instruction still retains the old-world charm, blending this traditional method with technology to customize student needs goes a long way in educating the students better.

Adaptive Teaching and Learning
Adaptive teaching, also known as adaptive learning is a new method that is based on computer algorithms and focuses on delivering customized resources to the learner. Technology is used to modify the presentation of educational material to suit the students' needs. Adaptive learning incorporates technology that encompasses Artificial Intelligence, psychometrics, psychology and more. Adaptive learning is somewhat similar to blended learning, with the focus being more on using technology to reach to the learner.

Student-controlled Learning
In today's fast-paced world of technology, learning is more student-led where students prefer to take charge of their learning. Classrooms are increasingly designed to cater to the learners' needs. Classrooms are bustling with activity though the teachers are relegated to the position of a coach. Brainstorming sessions are replaced with Brainwriting sessions where individuals are encouraged to come out with their own ideas that can be shared later. Digital brainwriting has replaced group-thinking, which is another offshoot of technology learning.

Cloud-based Technology to the Fore
Today, digital content can be accessed through any gadget from any remote location, thanks to cloud-based technology. A repository of information can be accessed by students and instructors alike, and what's more is the information is completely secure. Cloud-based web services enable the teachers to conduct collaborative classes. Online tasks can be prepared and assigned at short notice.

The Government's Initiative
Swayam, which is an initiative of the Government of India, highlights the three fundamental principles ­ access, equality and quality. It is the government's endeavor to ensure that all citizens have access to quality teaching and learning online. Swayam is the Government's effort to reach out to underprivileged students who are yet to get the benefits of the digital revolution.

The endemically developed IT platform promotes hosting of a range of courses right from the school level to the postgraduate level. The interactive courses that are made available to the students for free are designed by some of the best teachers handpicked from the length and breadth of the country. Over 1,000 teachers participate in the courses that span four important segments ­ video lectures, specially formulated reading material that's downloadable, self-assessment tests and quizzes, and an online forum that answers various questions.

Closing Thoughts
The way education is imparted has changed for the better. Universities have gone global and compete internationally for acquiring students. It is important for educators to stay relevant in this digital era. Digital transformation is here to stay, what with the ubiquitous smartphone and the social media emerging as primary communication channels. Students are considered more as prime customers and their expectation levels have risen several notches. Today's tech-savvy, better-connected crowd expects a lot more from the academia.