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Digital Education: Curse of the Past

Breakthrough technical advances and ever increasing screen time — isn’t this world exactly what we were striving for?

Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning
Deep Learning

Things that the super humans of the world were developing — every day, every moment — to make our lives easier.

Internet
Education
Technology
Knowledge

Things we thought were going to change the shape of the globe one day — and hey look, the day’s here.

EdTech: The sector that was progressing way ahead than any other, providing a one-stop solution for all the distance and monetary blues; giving hopes and desires, also creating information and access.

Covid came and changed the pace — and what we all wanted became a reality, just like that; just in a moment.
Institutes were shut down. Kids sent back to their homes. Not knowing what’s going to unfold.
Exams happened online. Or none at all. But now the terms and semesters and classes are beginning again — mostly back with the same, distant space.

Zoom, Microsoft Office and Skype became student-professor buddies, with the student part of it facing the greatest dilemma in terms of the choices present:
A. “Do I focus on this boring/interesting webinar?”
B. “Hey, I just got a WhatsApp! Let me check.”
C. “What’s this new photo on Instagram?”
D. Let’s do some TikTok.
E. Mute. Sleep. Chill.
F. “Bro, call me in case attendance happens.”

Source: Unsplash

These are just the decent ones. Obvious ones.
And while the distraction list is HUGE, so is the truth that this is exactly the kind of world we were waiting for and working towards.

EdTech, or Educational Technology, is one of the strongest sectors on the map right now.
The number of startups are intense.
The amount of crazy ideas to make education fun are skyrocketing.
The interest in gamifying this and taking the ball game one notch higher is the ambition.

But I ask you, if the debate between digital vs paper were to last — why is there a sense of incompleteness when you sit on the laptop for hours and feel restless even after a tiring, working day?
Is education not becoming more critical when its easier for you to NOT use your brain and fall back with the convenience of finding answers later on the internet instead?
What about the peer learning? Is it better on a video call of 50 odd students who hardly have any interest when they can’t see or feel each other?
What about the group assignments and the brainstorming? Does the conference call compensate enough?
Just how much is digital education is making us wiser and not complacent?

I might be jumping the gun too soon, but the reality of our understanding is quite deep rooted in the physical environment, we happened to grow up in.
Sure, there were critics of phones and computers when they first arrived.
Sure, people are resistant to change.
Sure, this could just be all jibber-jabber that means nothing when it will indeed be a transformation down the road.

But EdTech, at least as of now, despite minting the chips today — looks like the haunting curse of the past I wish I could undo.


Digital Education: Curse of the Past was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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