06/11/2015 8:19 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

From Takshashila To Bengaluru: Transforming Education In India

information coming out of a smart phone
Daniel Grizelj via Getty Images
information coming out of a smart phone

Takshashila, renowned as one of the earliest universities in the world, has contributed to India's unique position as a leader in advanced learning. It put India on the world education map about 2700 years ago. Students, young and old alike, came to Takshashila from Greece, Syria, Persia, China, Arabia, and Babylonia for training in different fields ranging from Vedas, Ayurveda, surgery, commerce, philosophy, astronomy, agriculture, warfare, archery and politics to name a few. This university has produced scholars like Chanakya, Panini, Charaka and Vishnu Sharma; this is a testimony to the credit it holds even today as the oldest university from ancient India.

Rooted in a rich tradition of teaching and learning methodologies, India drew countless students many hundreds of years ago. However, we couldn't sustain this stature due to lack of innovation, sluggish regulations in the system and political motives which eventually resulted in hordes of graduates moving to the US and UK to get specialised in subjects that India was not able to offer.

"[T]he need of the hour is for the government to promote online learning models across levels... and encourage education-technology players to innovate further."

Early 2000, India was branded as an outsourcing hub with factors like low cost, skilled manpower and established IT infrastructure. This was then followed by the beginning of the start-up boom when India was preparing itself for the next wave of disruptive global product firms. When these new-age companies were racing their way to the top, the world was gradually getting ready to get educated from India all over again, but this time on the hottest categories like big data, analytics, digital marketing and cloud computing.

In today's scenario, technology is the transformer that enables knowledge and information being disseminated to people spread across geographies. Online learning dismantled various constraints such as the physical presence of a teacher or learner in a classroom or their availability at a particular time of the day. Be it self-learning or with the help of an instructor virtually, online learning has minimised barriers, benefitting the learner and the trainer. Learning is more personalised in this mode of instruction. Videos are the most interactive form of content delivery, through short bite-sized instructional modules, live virtual classrooms and pre-recorded content. Availability of broadband and a surge in smart phone use have helped online learning grow at a fast pace. One of the main benefits of online learning is the ability to learn at one's own convenience and comfort, regardless of time zones and geographies.

With the availability of effective technology-based learning solutions for higher education and professional enhancement, the need of the hour is for the government to promote online learning models across levels -- enabling more individuals and institutions to adopt learning on a day-to-day basis through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and virtual classrooms -- and encourage education-technology players to innovate further. The focus should be to reach and educate the maximum number of people through online learning. In India, the education system has to be revamped by updating the syllabus to match the industry demands. Industry bodies like NASSCOM and leading private sector organisations should collaborate with new age educational-tech firms to adopt effective strategies that include technology as a an enabler to ensure that students are not left behind in the ever changing world of technology.

An interesting instance of self-learning is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. Eklavya, a young lad who aspired to learn archery under Dronacharya was denied the privilege. Eklavya embarked on a journey of learning archery on his own in the presence of a clay model of his guru. He soon became an accomplished archer. The story is an inspiration on how self-learning can do wonders with grit, perseverance and commitment. Technology is the perfect facilitator. It has enhanced the way we learn and each individual can pursue his ideas and dreams at his own convenience. Learning is the most important component of education and the methodology one chooses forms the essence of education. Good education through online self-learning for today's aspirants accelerates their growth and ability to pursue excellence.

"While Takshashila is regarded as the seat of ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge, Bengaluru is considered the hub of online learning."

With ed-tech companies getting the deserved attention and funding, it's a clear indicator that classroom learning is now a matter of the past and online certification training is set to shape tomorrow's education industry. It's predicted that there is going to be an increase in online certification training aimed at making professionals skilled and industry ready. What is interesting to know is that the ed-tech ecosystem will be tapping the potential of the Garden City turned Silicon Valley of India, as more and more professionals are expected to be trained from Bengaluru.

We can soon look out for some of the top global ed-tech names setting up shop in Bengaluru to train professionals and provide holistic learning experiences. While Takshashila is regarded as the seat of ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge, Bengaluru is considered the hub of online learning. From creating world-class educational content, selling IP at well positioned pricing to addressing details like clearing doubts regarding the core subject matter and helping professionals in cracking their certification exams, ed-tech players like Simplilearn have already unlocked the potential.

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