The future of EdTech in an AI-driven world
Picture this. A faculty member walks into a room of students and begins the online class. The students listen to their educator raptly and are able to engage with him. Like any other day, he smiles sometimes and his face mirrors multiple expressions. The lesson ends as usual. But there is an unusual change here. The faculty is actually not a real person. He is the cloned AI version of an actual educator. Edology, an EdTech arm of GGS India, is experimenting with this prototype as a launchpad to the future of EdTech is expected to undergo massive transformation, create new careers and also spark off gig roles.
Does this mean that the faculty becomes redundant in the near future? Not really. It just means that there’s greater autonomy to take on multiple jobs and have a more accessible and equitable route to education, and upskilling. Most importantly, it’s all about empowering people — students, educational institutions, curriculum developers, faculty—to have the freedom to make diverse and informed choices.
Let’s examine some statistics, first. According to a study by Market Research, “The EdTech market size was valued at USD 254.80 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 605.40 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.52% during the forecast period.” In fact, ed-tech is expected to increase its ambit of user and learner base regardless of age, geography and socio-economic status. This growth curve is pegged on five basic factors, points out the study. These include: Ingress of 5G Technology, expansion of gamification, hybrid model adoption, enhancement in connectivity infrastructure and smartphone penetration and growing investments by private equity and venture capital.
Now, we circle back to the basics to explore the burning question –whether tech will replace humans, for good. Technology is the byproduct of human talent, imagination and thinking. AI needs human thinking and intervention to drive and even scale it upwards. Of course, it’s made life more efficient, seamless and less chaotic. But it cannot replace human talent and experience. In this scenario where AI is mimicking human expressions and the very fact that the students may be unable to distinguish between the real and virtual persona of their educator is a big plus.
For students, the learning doesn’t stop, it remains as engaging as it would be with a human educator. But it’s a bigger picture for the educators because in future scenarios as technology continues to roll out and progress at a rapid pace, they can choose to be in different places at the same time. How? By simply feeding customized data into their virtual avatar for delivering multiple lectures on varied subjects in different places, simultaneously. This means that an educator may not be employed with one educational institution but could work with many as a gig educator. It also helps in evaluation, creating efficient Learning Management Systems (LMS) and planning curriculums. For students, it’s a big deal too. Because it not only provides more customized learning based on their learning abilities and pace, have the AI bot address their queries, they can even create a mixed bag of subjects in a market that is more competitive and riding high on quality.
The EdTech universe begins with K-12 education and expands over higher education, exams and certification courses for both learning and upskilling. This industry has come a long way since the pandemic and beyond. While online teaching, learning and upskilling certainly got a huge fillip in the last three years, there’s a constant debate about AI taking over EdTech. It’s important to understand that AI constitutes the very backbone of EdTech and it’s impossible to separate the two.
India’s active internet users are expected to jump to 900 million or roughly 40 percent in 2025, as compared to 600 million users in 2020. These are the findings by IAMAI-Kantar ICUBE report. Therefore, in my opinion, the doomsday projections for EdTech are not really accurate. What’s required now is more support from the government and other key stakeholders to ensure that the EdTech juggernaut rolls in the right direction and fulfills the intent it was created for. Of course, work has already begun in this direction with the government’s NEP Education Policy 2020 batting for more usage of technology in education for teaching and learning purposes.
With the tectonic technology around us, what’s next is that decision-makers and governments across the world should explore the possibility of relaxing red tape, being more open to having industry, faculty and AI be a part of classroom teaching wherein the best of all the worlds is up for taking. That’s the next big deal for EdTech.
(The writer is Senior Director, Edology)