What do you like about your role?
I am the Managing Director of Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools. We are a chain of 625 preschools, primary schools and K-12 School spread over South Asia. We are going through an amazing growth phase currently opening 2 schools every week.
What I like best about my role is the satisfaction of knowing that every small thing we do in our organization helps give the foundation to the lives of thousands of children in our schools. Being a leader gives you a great deal of freedom to do what you feel is right for the whole organization – the educators and the children. I still get goosebumps every time I am reminded that 3,50,000 children have graduated from our colourful corridors!
Share three predictions on the future of Edtech.
Edtech will make the lines between school and home, students and workers blur as the population shifts to immersive learning solutions, which are anywhere anytime. These lifelong learners will follow personalized learning paths, which will enable better matchmaking with higher learning institutes and employers.
In areas where mainstream education is accessible to the learners – Edtech is and will continue to be a tool in the hands of the educators. This tool will continue to grow in power through a better understanding of the student and help the educators make learning more personalized.
In areas where mainstream education institutions are not accessible (due to location, society pressures etc.) – Edtech will substitute the teacher in the case of highly motivated and self-driven students who will drive their own learning.
What technologies do you believe have the potential to transform the education industry?
Edtech has failed to live up to its hype as a game changer in education. You can take a teacher from 100 years ago and plant her in today’s classroom and she would ensure that the children finishes their syllabus and get good grades. In my opinion, the reason why technology has not changed education the way it has all other walks of life is – evaluation.
The entrance examinations, standardized testing, admission results to higher education and grades are the milestones on how a student, a teacher or a school is judged. Until Technology comes up with a better way of holistically assessing a student- the aim of education will be about grades. Once a better assessment system is established combining big data, analytics, and Artificial Intelligence – it will transform education as the students will know their strength and areas of improvement and backed by real industry support- there will be the proper matching of skills, training, and employability.
As we are celebrating out 5th anniversary of EdTechXEurope, we are looking at the key trends over the past 5 years in edtech. What would you say have been the key areas of change that are impacting edtech today? Anything unexpected that surprised you? Trends that were overhyped and never met their expected potential?
Yes, 5 years ago, educators approached Edtech very differently. The focus was on identifying the right hardware, software- selecting the most “value for money” solution, which would work. Technologies like Virtual Reality, MOOCs, Wearables like Google glass were threatening to disrupt education like never before – but unfortunately, they could not live up to the hype.
However what we have realized is that the solution was never in the technology – it was always about the people. The most inspiring Edtech success stories do not come from using the fancy tech but how an inspiring teacher uses the simplest of technologies – blogs, social media, apps, instant messaging to supplement the teaching-learning in the classroom. Education leaders have realised that maybe too much money was spent on technology and less on empowering the educators. Institutions are changing their focus from exhausting their budgets on purchasing technology and instead of spending a greater focus on motivating and training teachers to use the technology that is easily available.
Why is it important for all players in the edtech ecosystem to continuously connect, network and learn from each other?
Edtech is an exciting and challenging sector and with newer innovations constantly coming in – it is a continuous cycle of experimentation. Since we cannot treat our students as experimental Guinea pigs – we need to learn not only about the “best practices” from each other but also things that did not work. The more we learn from each other – the less we need to experiment directly in the classroom. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Thankfully, the Edtech community is a very lively, vocal, open community and have established channels for knowledge sharing.
When you think about joining EdTechXEurope this year, what are you looking forward to? What makes you excited about our event in London?
I look forward to meeting fellow educators, networking, sharing ideas and getting inspired! Additionally, I look forward to the school visits, which I am sure, will help pick up ideas for our schools.
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