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05/01/18

Tech hacks to empower educators

Old-school (literally!) methods of managing content delivery, testing, assessment and out-of-class support have to change if universities and colleges want to prepare a new generation of students for the future.

Over the course of the last two blogs on Higher Education, we have written about new classroom technology and dealt with the optimization of student experience to ensure we have a generation of youngsters who can confidently step into the future while being assured of lifelong learning opportunities. In this blog, the third in the series, we are going to discuss ways in which to empower educators using technology.

Educators have traditionally used their instinct and experience to carry out their day-to-day activities. But Higher Education is changing at an unprecedented rate. The types of courses and their numbers have grown, the average age of someone enrolled for higher education is on the rise, and the number of students enrolling for online courses increased by 5.6% between fall 2015 and 2016 (the fastest for the previous three years)[i] and students brought up in a digital world have rising expectations from their educators. These changes are bringing into question traditional methodologies of classroom management, content scheduling and delivery, testing and assessment along with the tools available to educators. According to a recent report by the New Media Consortium, a not-for-profit learning-focused organization exploring the use of new media and new technologies, traditional approaches to teaching can “often stifle learning as much as they foster it.”[ii] In the digital age, where everything is real-time and dynamic, educators cannot afford to fall behind. There is a need to spur innovation in higher education, putting educators in control with data and technology and helping them keep pace with the needs of millennials and NextGen learners.

At the pace technology is progressing, universities and colleges will soon bristle with sensors and RFID systems that create location-based services for students; we will have mobile applications and devices that provide students access to content from anywhere, anytime and track student progress; there will be content management systems that personalize micro learning and recommend it based on student capabilities; intelligent bots that guide students and respond to their queries will appear; predictive analytics that flags student attrition and drop outs and smart dashboards and real-time insights that educators can depend on to improve learning outcomes will become available. Suddenly, everything will look far-removed from the peaceful and bucolic images of a college campus we have grown accustomed to.

What can educators do to lead the change as pioneers, demonstrating the willingness to step into Next Century education? Here are essential capabilities of technology for educators:

Student reports:

Using digital systems, data and analytics, it is possible to provide educators with detailed reports on each student, with insights on the relative effectiveness of lectures, class and content, freeing them from low-order assessments. This is an important capability that goes beyond what meets the eye. Using models, algorithms and machine learning, biases in student assessments can be completely eliminated. Educators won’t have to continuously set, navigate, assess and maintain standards and will therefore be able to direct more energy to planning classes, tests and improving student learning.

Content analytics:

Today, there is no way to examine the amount of data absorbed by a student and the time required for it. However, digital systems can record content usage, use automated testing methodologies to understand the relationships between content and learning – and further use this data to organize, optimize and personalize content modules. This methodology will ensure that every student learns at his/ her pace, is administered only those revisions and remedial support required to master a topic, and no student gets left behind.

Real-time assessments:

The gaps and variances between teaching, testing, formative assessments and feedback can often rob a student of motivation and impede the ability of educators to create appropriate and effective learning modules. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered bots can be deployed on hand held devices and mobiles to provide instant feedback to students at scale, then log the results and feedback in systems for later use. The key here is to continuously update automated assessment systems with newer and better assessment practices, adjusting them to the right learning goals. The truth is that traditional assessment practices are difficult to change frequently based on learning goals – an aspect that can be effectively addressed using bots.

Next generation learning spaces:

The goal of next generation learning spaces is twofold – to improve learning outcomes by supporting students with networked, digital, media-rich, assistive, virtual, immersive and collaborative technologies as well as to accommodate an ever-increasing number of students into class. The idea of tomorrow’s classrooms integrates real and virtual spaces, erasing the traditional boundaries of walls and time zones. The core focus of next generation learning spaces is to make “class” more learner centric, allowing students to access a variety of information sources and freely mix and reconfigure their learning. A secondary goal of new learning spaces is to be able to record, replay and share lessons at will.

Dynamic scheduling:

There is pressure on a student’s time from a variety of campus requirements. Scheduling class, activities and personal needs is becoming chaotic. It is therefore becoming difficult for educators to meet students when they are most required. Scheduling personalized learning experiences, out-of-class academic discussions and counseling sessions is an uphill task. However, by leveraging collaboration management platforms, dynamic scheduling of classes and discussions can be enabled, bridging a major gap in student needs.

Educators are being armed with new technology to make life easier and improve the outcomes of their efforts. Technology that supports educators is enabling students to perform better and is also helping create a larger sense of satisfaction of being in the profession of higher education. Never before have educators been handed the power to make such major changes in their processes and outcomes. Now is the time.

What do you think are the major challenges before educators and how can technology make their life easier? We are interested in hearing your thoughts and look forward to your comments. Meanwhile, don’t miss the last blog in this part series which provides insights on five opportunities for immediate transformation in Higher Education.

Check out the post ClassTech—linking classrooms to virtually any place in the cosmos the first in a series of posts on education.

Check out the second post in this series - Engaging Digitally Native Students with Contextual and Immersive Experience powered by Insights

Learn more about the solutions and platforms that accelerate the digital journey of education clients.

This blog is co- authored by -

Sriram Jayaraman, Head Digital solutions and consulting, Mindtree

Sriram comes with over 20 years of experience in designing solutions at the nexus of devices, social, mobile, analytics and cloud technology to transforms the way organizations deliver customer experience. Prior to Mindtree, His experience focuses on designing technology solutions that are aligned to create a compelling customer experience especially for education, technology, retail, travel, e-commerce, BFSI, betting and gaming industries around the world. Sriram is a frequent speaker at tech forums such as TechEd, Ignite, Microsoft user groups and ASUG

Shriharsha Imrapur, Global Head of Media and Education, Mindtree

Shriharsha is helping some of the world’s premier education institutions in their transformation towards the digital future. He lives at the intersection of business and technology and speaks at industry and client forums on topics such as digital constituent experience propelled by data and cloud. He heads Mindtree’s Media and Education business globally and is based out of London.


[i] https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/highered.html
[ii] http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-HE-EN.pdf

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