Dataquest T-School Higher Education Conference & Awards 2022, presentation ceremony, a signature event for the best engineering colleges in India, was held successfully on 21 December 2022 at India Habitat Center, New Delhi.
Dataquest organised the T-Schools Higher Education Conference and Awards 2022 event titled Empowering the Emerging world. The conference focuses on the biggest questions that looms the engineering colleges for decades. T-School platform highlights the need to adopt the hour curriculum and need of the industry participation aligning with the policy makers to revamp the system with modern technology.
The officiating guests and the sponsor partners kicked off the ceremony.
Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest, PCQuest, and CiOL, welcomed everyone and said, “It is great to be here even after 40 years. Very few people had heard of IT. It all began in 1984 with the NCP. We had the software policy in 1986. Internet came into being in 1988. Next came the DTP revolution. In the 90s, we had liberalization, public Internet, and even Y2K, which was handled efficiently by IT services. We used to cover all the software companies. There was a time when DQ was the only source for information. In T-Schools, we have come out with college rankings, employability, and even digital index. Scott Adams had predicted that digital learning will become a lifelong process. We have to learn and unlearn, and repeat.”
Anil Chopra, VP and Research, Consulting, CyberMedia Research, presented on trends in higher education. He elaborated that India will become the third-largest global economy by 2027. Market capitalization will rise from $3.4 trillion to $11 trillion by 2032, making it the third-largest globally. We have the youngest population in the world. Education market is expected to grow to $225 billion by 2025. By 2025, digital could transform India’s economy, sector by sector. Core digital sectors are expected to more than double by 2025.
Today, we are using ebooks and etextbooks 87%, learning management system 76%, online video/audio 84%, social media 73%, accessible tools 34%, and e-portfolio 33%. More and more tech is being used in learning. There are open educational resources used today. Matlab 95%, R/Python 93%, AI/ML 92%, etc., are being used. Usage of web conferencing has also grown. External experts are also brought in by colleges for the students. More students are now using web conferencing. Teachers are more aware of the opportunities ICT offers for effective teaching.
Lot of emerging tech is also being used by institutes. These include CAD/CAM, etc. Social media is also being used widely. LinkedIn is being widely used to hire more professors. However, ITC deployment also has challenges. These include high cost of deployment, customized solutions not available, etc. We have seen 10% rise in ICT budgets over the last year. 74% institutes now have policy for ICT use in teaching and learning.
In the survey conducted for T-Schools in the 18th year, South has now taken the lead, followed by North, West, and East. CMR’s TIME framework, such as teaching (20), infrastructure (30), motivation (10), and environment (40) was used.
Fascinating two years
Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group, presented the opening keynote. He said, “What’s happened over the past two years has been fascinating. The least impacted sector in 2015 was education. Manufacturing and travel industries have now transformed. Today, transformation has happened over the last three years. TIME model is very important. It will alter again in the next 10 years. Education will take the lead.
Technologies, such as AR/VR, AI/ML, robotics, etc., are also coming into education. Modes of teaching will also improve for imparting education. With AI, you can look at a classroom and tailor that differently for students. The edtech pendulum has also swung a lot over the last two years. Lot of startups have also come in. Several billion dollars has been pumped into that. Byju’s supported the Football World Cup 2022. Course correction has also happened. It will be transformative for the future of education.”
India as education powerhouse
How can India be the education powerhouse in the next 10 years was delivered by Prof. Dr. Balvinder Shukla, Vice Chancellor, Amity University, Noida. Covid-19 pandemic has become the reason for transformation of many businesses. Nobody knew how long it would be there. We were connected, thanks to the technology.
Back in the 1980s, Rajiv Gandhi brought computer to the country. Educational institutes were also getting transformed. After liberalization, some colleges started adopting the technology. During the pandemic, most colleges were not ready. They were not ready for large deployment of technology. Today, most of them have come back stronger. You are now getting similar courses to all the colleges all over the country. India has now become the powerhouse of education. NDP 2020 has provided the vision.
Today, institutes are working to address the industry’s needs. Employment today means starting their own venture for the students. There has to be customized education. The students are now being prepared for their higher aspirations. Eg., they would need skills for the corporate sector. We are looking to prepare and customize the curriculum for students. We need to deploy relevant technology for students. Institutions also need to share with the industry about the graduates and their skill sets.
NEP 2020 has given a solution that 40% of courses can be done by students via online. They have to become a package. We need more industry-academia collaboration. Edutech sector also needs to understand what the higher institutions need. Earlier, there was no single digital platform. We had a platform. We also built a third-party platform. We needed a uniform system platform. Each university has its own, different needs. Edutech sector has to look at what the needs are, and bridge the gap. We need to update the curriculum all the time. We now have to offer the basket of value-addition courses. Otherwise, we will be churning out graduates with no employability factor. We need to fill this gap.
Today, students don’t want to go for jobs. They now want to start their own ventures. Institutes also need to support their ideas. We need to create research and innovation infrastructure. We need to give them flexibility. Technology also plays an important role. We have to make India as the powerhouse. Education is only source for bringing the talent and also create opportunities.
We are thankful to the angel investors who have started many ventures. Globalization is now here. We need to give global exposure to the students. We need to collaborate with international universities, do group projects, etc. You can have students connect at different times for projects. Cost of travel, time, etc., can be reduced. We also need to connect the rural areas to the best teachers from the world. Research also has to be integrated with UG and PG programs. Students can devote 40% of their time for self-paced learning. Universities also need to do the course mapping. Pandemic has given us a great opportunity. It will be progressive.
Creating the borderless campus
Mukesh Nihalwani, Private Education Sales Head, Lenovo India, presented the industry keynote on creating the borderless campus. We believe that technology plays a key role today. We are focusing on the borderless campus. Deloitte said the features of hybrid university will make it a more student-oriented university. Nearly 9 of 10 universities in USA are planning for hybrid model of instruction. Borderless campus enhances the education.
We believe education is the foundation of a better future. We are lifting the next generation through opportunity. Learning requires technology that creates safe, accessible future. Innovation is key for Lenovo. We are putting all the efforts for continuity of learning. We are inspiring and empowering learning, and helping achieve the future goals. We are empowering digital learning, inspiring extraordinary experiences, and helping achieve the future. We are also focusing on professional development of faculty and staff, along with students.
Lenovo’s made-for-education solutions run Windows 10 Pro on the Intel vPro platform. We have hybrid classroom solutions, such as video collaboration systems, design and installation services, choice of UC platforms, devices and peripherals. We are using our strengths to your advantage. We have end-to-end hardware, software, and services solutions. We have diverse partner ecosystem and industry depth. We work with you as a partner. We assess needs, evaluate options, and customize solutions. Solutions are durable, simple to deploy, remote-management ready, easy integration, and built-in security for endpoint and data protection. There should be uninterrupted learning.
We are also extending the campus to go borderless. We are extending learning in and out of the classroom. We are attracting students and faculty worldwide. We provide VIP support round the clock. Lenovo has also added accidental damage protection (ADP). It minimizes downtime and keeps students engaged. We also offer lifecycle services. We also optimize productivity and flexibility with DaaS for education. We have a partnership with EY to understand your technology needs. It gauges where your institution stands with regard to technology.
Digital learning and talent gap
Next, the first fireside chat on bridging the digital learning and talent gap was held. Ms. Kirti Seth, CEO, IT-ITES Sector Skill Council, NASSCOM and Yogesh Andlay, Founder, Nucleus Software and Board Member, School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL), were the participants. It was moderated by Pradeep Gupta, CyberMedia Group.
Gupta said the earlier debate has provided key trigger points. Ms. Seth said lot of hot and happening things have already been brought up. We have realization that all need to work together. We have the entire framework in place for doing this. Industry is also reeling under the perfect storm. We need to think what we need to do from here on. Andlay said that it is time for us to look at what we can do. When these go in for implementation, we need to have mindset preparation for every actor.
Gupta said only 30% of students coming out are employable. Ms. Seth said we do such studies. The numbers have not changed very much. We are also getting results regarding what is required. Impact of digital transformation have been huge. We are looking at more evolving skills. We have learning agility. We need to have enough preparation to keep learning on top of what we have already learned. We need to have the fundamentals properly in place. The learner has to now pick up from what we have already learned.
Gupta noted that we also need to have more people with specific skills. What has SOIL been doing in preparing people for the industry? Andlay said that we started with the help of 34 consortium companies. Industry now wants people to be skill ready, empathy, and behaviour that empowers. We should have the right skill content. The student should also be action oriented. He/she needs to understand the purpose of life. The new education policy has provided people to explore skills. The student needs to understand the entire cycle, he or she will be employment ready. Ms. Seth said if a student does a project, it shows what he/she has learnt. The student also needs to describe the why and how the project has been done.
Gupta added that we need to look at the ‘do’ part. What should be the next steps to achieve that? Ms. Seth said we all need to sit down together. We have future skills prime platform for digital skilling platform. This is a great resource for starting point. We have programs that the industry thinks is important. It is aligned to national credit framework. Academia become users of the platform. We will have industries that are interested in those skills. We bring industries to do mentoring sessions in colleges. Eg., Coursera wants to bring skills that are aligned to the national skills program.
How can we ensure that students are ready for a world 10-15 years from today? Ms. Seth said structured platforms are now available on YouTube. Education will be very different in about 10 years. Learners and kids are asking whether they should go for PG. People are now looking for skills. Machines are doing more today. We have to bring more of humans into empathy, etc. We need to keep up-to-date with things.
Andlay added that today, kids are starting life with tablets, mobiles, and YouTube. The mass will change to adopt to the new world. We need to prepare students the future students. People still need six months training for several things. Using AR/VR, training can also become easy. Lot of training material will also get developed around this. Institutions also need to be ready to add this capacity.
Technology shaping future education
The next panel discussion was on digital transformation: how technology is shaping the future education. Prof. Raj S Dhankar, VC, Apeejay Stya University, Sandeep Bhatia, Director, Sales, Accops Systems Pvt Ltd, Vivek K. Srivastava, CIO, ExamOnline, and Sabyasaachi Mukherjee, Education Transformation Lead, Lenovo, were the participants. It was moderated by Anil Chopra, CMR.
Chopra said that institutions have come out stronger in the pandemic. Prof. Raj S Dhankar, Apeejay Stya University, said technology in education is required, as that acts as an enabler and a leveller. We can see value-add when we have deployed technology. Students still can’t get to colleges and universities after getting out of school. We are improving their gross involvement ratio. We have done value-add only when we have added technology. We need to train students hands-on for being industry ready. Otherwise, they cannot get good placements.
By establishing the Bloomberg labs at our institute, we got live data of the world’s stock markets and economies. Next year, the placement went up by 20%. We have to move fast enough in higher education. The physical infrastructure is not available enough. NEP and UGC also suggested that we need to have digital universities. We need to have good technology. We can also improve the quality of publications. People now go abroad as there is better environment and structure over there. The differentiating factor is technology.
Chopra agreed that we have to go online with education. Everyone has the same technology and it has become competitive. Sandeep Bhatia, Accops Systems, said we need money for running resources. We also need to keep up with technological advancements. We need to leverage current resources. We can develop skills for students and help them to be innovative.
Accops High Labs is designed for higher educations. They are able to assess the lab on real-time basis from anywhere, on any device. Japan has taken this program to several of their colleges and universities. You can have curriculum based on real-time, in your own way. Labs can be designed along the way. Students can develop their own time table. Virtualization can help develop new devices. Students need flexibility today, and make best use of their time. Faculty can design their own programs, as needed. You don’t incur too much cost for endpoints. New technology can be easily added, and upgraded.
What are some of the latest innovations that students are using? Vivek K. Srivastava, ExamOnline, said there is holistic education where students can provide feedback. They need to know the factors where they will get assessed on. Students can also get deep, practical education. Digital transformation is enabling learning from anywhere.
Finally, what are the new offerings available today for students? Sabyasaachi Mukherjee, Lenovo, said the education fraternity has changed from what they were not ready for. They have all adapted to change. Technology has done tremendous things to provide education, even to remote learners. Data science, AR/VR, AI/ML, etc., have come up well. In India, we are having discussions with universities for setting up centers of excellence.
Today, education institutes are embracing technology. However, employability remains a problem. Mukherjee said we are having Nasscom’s employability quotient. Students who flunk generally do not have inter-personal skills. We need to understand perception of the parents. People are only talking about engineering. Somehow, students are crossing the line, but they are not getting good jobs. We need to have a look at training curriculum that is also job-oriented.
Prof. Dhankar, Apeejay Stya University, noted that we have seen various policies have tried to make a difference. We were probably not sincere enough to implement them. We did not follow a proper policy. Institutes were not having good infrastructure and faculty. Demand and supply saw the weak closing down. We have a situation where, as the academic, we also failed the country. It is a mixed case now to discuss this. We should not make experiments with education. We have to bring more sincerity and purpose into the system.
We also need to have theoretical-lab ratio of 20:80 or 10:90, as it is done in the USA. That’s why many engineering colleges have closed down. There should be pressure on the students to work 18 hours a day. Companies used to have in-house training programs. They need to invest in training the person. Life spans of businesses are getting shorter. We need to have and build leadership quality and holistic growth.
Srivastava, ExamOnline, said that we also need to have fairness on assessment and evaluation. We can create, analyze, and process lot of data. Lot of innovation takes place in smaller organizations. It will help gain knowledge of what’s going on in the industry today. Sandeep Bhatia, Accops Systems, noted that we also need to have industry exposure. We need to give students that kind of exposure. Technology is evolving, and new things are coming up. We need to encourage students to solve more problems. The students should be exposed to general corporate problems on the ground.
Mukherjee added that technology plays a very important role. Students need to be given real-time knowledge. Virtual labs are coming up. They have to be implemented. There has to be proper plan. Practical knowledge is very important for students. We also need to integrated engineering with humanities for various fields. Students need to understand how they can gel into the corporate environment.
Smart campus networks
The next industry keynote was on smart campus networks: unlock your students’ full potential, delivered by Shashikant Verma, Presales Consultant, Ruckus Networks. Smart campus needs student-centric HRD, attract and retain students, engage students in campus life, and student outcomes and analyses. Connected campus means ubiquitous connectivity from cable to cloud. Smart campus means insightful connectivity, with IoT, AI/ML solutions, etc. We also need personal campus for student-centric experiences.
Global Internet traffic has seen too many networks. Connected campuses need converged networks. Smart campus is the new frontier in higher education. It enables smart living, smart learning, and smart security. We are now building automation and operational efficiencies.
Smart living brings smart ID cards, in-building 5G/LTE, smart lighting, smart parking / transit, wayfinding, personal networks, eSports, etc. We need to find a balance for open vs. secure networks. Smart learning has pillars such as flexible learning spaces, digital portals, virtual labs, distance learning, learning capture, etc. Smart learning technologies can change the way students learn. Multiple students can work collaboratively. Colleges are also embracing smart learning. Smart safety includes CCTV and VMS, connected entry, tracking assets, and sound and motion detection. You can closely monitor every individual coming in or going out. We can provide campus safety with IoT automation. Ruckus IT Insights is a platform with IoT insights.
Focus of women in STEM
This was followed by another panel discussion on adopting emerging tech to upskill with renewed focus of women in STEM. The participants were Yogesh Mishra, VP, Thomas Assessment and President DMA, Dr. Deepa Gupta, Dean, GL Bajaj Institute of Management, Dr. Rajnish Talwar, Dean, Chitkara University, and Ms. Samriti Malhotra, Global HRD Head, Denave. It was moderated by Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest, PCQuest, and CiOL.
Rajguru said India has about 40% women in STEM. What are the lessons for the world? Ms. Samriti Malhotra, Denave, said we are doing well in STEM. We have a challenge that we are still mitigating. Globally, there are 18% women in STEM. In India, it has grown very fast. Women have participated and have been doing extremely well. Women have certain inherent qualities. They are curious, look at root cause, stitch certain challenges, etc. However, men are equally competent! We are trying to bring more women in STEM.
Dr. Deepa Gupta, GL Bajaj, noted the IITs had a low percentage of women. Now, it has reached about 50:50 this year. Gradually, we hope this will also get a push at the IIMs. The educational policy is pushing from fear to freedom. We will soon have more women in many fields, especially science and technology.
Yogesh Mishra, Thomas Assessment, said India is a diverse country. Saraswati is the Goddess of learning. Women have been encouraged in India to study. They have done well, and also remain oppressed in areas. Girls are normally of the studious variety. As you move up higher education, the number falls. In doctors and nursing, they are there. In manufacturing, there are very few. We are not able to make use of their knowledge.
Rajguru added that there are few women in the industry. Ms. Malhotra said we see women secure top ranks in classes. Senior leadership has some challenges. You need to take thought-through decisions, especially for women. Flexibilities need to be there. Covid-19 has made it possible to do remote working. Women like to give their 100% in everything. For top positions, commitment is much higher. In the coming times, this will also increase.
Dr. Ms. Gupta said we are seeing changes happening. We need lot of hand-holding as well. That will create more stars. We may see a drop in the dropout ratios. Dr. Rajnish Talwar, Dean, Chitkara University, said women are empowered at home and the office today. Cooking is not that easy for men at home.
Mishra added that women had disappeared in some areas. People did not see a role model at the top. We need to give women flexibility. We need to identify role models, make them interactive, etc. We need to also give them tips regarding nutrition. We also need to work on executive presence. We can do a lot of things.
He added that there were fewer women in STEM in civil, mechanical, etc. Today, women engineers are working on sites. Dr. Rajnish Talwar said we have women making ebikes today. It also depends on the family background and support system. That shift is already happening. Even Air Force has recruited women and there are also for DTC buses and Metros.
Ms. Malhotra said women empowerment cannot be complete without support of men. We need to have equal partnerships. The success lies on how to leverage strengths of men and women. At our organization, we are creating 50:50 ratio for leadership. Women can share their perceptions regarding challenges.
Dr. Ms. Gupta said the top three departments are all led by Goddesses – Saraswati has knowledge, Lakshmi has money, and Durga has power. We need to have a holistic environment where everyone supports each other.
Digital skilling and edtech complementing talent transformation
There was another panel discussion on how digital skilling and edtech is complementing in talent transformation. The participants were Amit N. Kolhe, Managing Trustee, Sanjivani Education Society, Sameer Mathur, Founder and CEO, Redwood Learning, and Praveen Sirohi, Senior GM, Telecom Sector Skill Council. It was moderated by Shubhendu Parth, Editor, Voice & Data.
The lockdown has accelerated transformation, including education. We need to define digital skilling and education. Praveen Sirohi, TSSC, said skilling is something where you give something required for industry. Education is all-encompassing. This includes practical and theoretical, and OTJ. People need to use that for the industry. Sameer Mathur, Redwood Learning, said that there is a thin line between education and skilling. Skilling is required for outcomes towards end industries. Education is very important, and more holistic.
Amit N. Kolhe, Sanjivani Education Society, is from Maharashtra. Everything was closed down there, and it was important how you were prepared. Delivery of education through the digital platform is necessary. We made our own elements and put that in the platform. Digital skilling is the need of the hour. It is about getting acquainted with both the sides. Digital covers the entire gamut. Sirohi said we are a bit ahead in digital skilling. We need to convert that from edutech to digital skills.
Sameer Mathur, Redwood said that some, among universities, we felt they are apprehensive to use digital as a medium. Some large institutes are still not ready. Acceptance of digital is growing. It can act as a hybrid model to facilitate further learning. Cost of physical learning is still very high. Most felt that the digital learning outcome is about 10% than physical learning. Edtech is there to stay.
Sirohi, TSSC, added that technical skills are required. Success of digital lies more with technology. Rural may not have bandwidth. It is also connected with telecom. With 5G, more focus has started on private colleges. We have started 5G rollout in rural areas. It is in some areas. The industry still does not have enough skills. Government is serious about this. They discussed how we are going to fill up the skills gap. We are going to fill up the skills gap in 6 months. For pan-India, it may take around two years.
Next, how is technology driving skilling in rural areas? Kohle, Sanjivini, noted that we cannot have a replacement for education. Some engineers have gone for Coursera licenses. In emerging technologies, we adopted some courses from Coursera. They also trained our faculty on those domains.
Are we now doing the blending right, by placing technology before education? Mathur, Redwood, replied we need not copy others in all the parameters. We need to have very holistic education. Not many institutes are forcing students to go for digital. It is more of a hybrid education today.
Kolhe said the government has involved all educational institutes. In private sector, it has happened more in tier 1 cities. The missing gap was filled by government. Acceptability may not come easily. Sirohi, TSSC, added that we need to see what kind of blended learning we are going to provide. Mathur noted that the main stakeholders in TSSC are 2-3 companies running the telecom networks. Sirohi said the operators are the owners. Most of the candidates also got placed with them.
If there is 10x change in the education sector, is the NEP built to meet the new era? Sirohi said education has not been adopted enough. We have made available the entire course. NEP has been prepared to also make the journey digital. We have solved one part of the problem.
How can we convert physical training to digital? Mathur said the biggest stakeholder are the academicians. They are here to help you. Similar resistance to change is also available among corporates. Learning outcomes have not been very successful in many cases. Kohle noted that we need to understand how NEP is going to be implemented. Digital is going to be there. UGC is saying we can have 40% of course on digital. Blended learning is perhaps, the way forward.
Sirohi said we need edtech companies to use more of AR/VR. It has to replace the lab to digital. It has to be replicated. We need to have more digital labs. Mathur said any change is slow process, and should start from the top. Education institutes need to start with few projects where there is digital for about 30-40%, and the rest is physical. They also need to take care of security. Digital companies need not focus too much on being digital and jazzy. They also need to have stronger outcomes for learning. They can help us learn better with great content. Kohle said education institutes need to follow what has been set by the government. We also need to have physical sessions of some topics.
Real-time implementation of NEP
The final session was on the role of government and real-time implementation of the National Education Policy. It was delivered by Guest of Honour, Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, Chairman, NCVET. He has been part of Cybermedia initiative. Today, it has played a large role in the development of the country.
National Credit Framework (NCrF) is the mandate of NEP 2020. It is a comprehensive credit framework. It integrates academics, vocational skills, and experiential learning. There is the integration of credits for academic education (school or higher education), vocational education, and training / skilling, and relevant experience and proficiency levels after attaining a qualification. NCrF supports and aligns with existing qualification frameworks — NHEQF and NSQF.
The levels range from 1 to 8 for all educational rungs. Almost 100 hours of learning is required for level 5, and 800 hours for level 8. We have credited 1200 hours of learning per year, with 40 hours per credit. For NCrF calculations, we have included classroom teaching and tests, field visits, industry visits, online and blended learning, sports and games, social and community work, internship and OJT, etc.
Every learning hour and all types of learning shall be creditized. There is no difference in credits assigned for different areas of learning. Learning shall be creditized, clearly prescribing learning outcomes in pre-defined NCrF credit levels. We can carry out assessment against the prescribed learning outcomes. Assessment is mandatory for earning credits. We have broken down blended learning into seven areas. These are: theory/lectures, soft/life skills, showing demos, practical skills/lab work, tutorials, assessment and evaluation exams, and OTJ training, internship, and apprenticeship.
NCrF is one single framework applicable to all skilling ecosystem. It is the enabling framework. It is the meta framework integrating credits earned from academics, vocational education, training/skilling and experiential learning, including relevant work experience and proficiency level achieved. We hope to submit this by Dec. 31, 2022.
The student/learner can earn additional credit points at the same NCrF levels based on the weightage of relevant experiential learning, etc. There are also provisions for non-formal/informal learning in government/NGO organization. We have done national occupation standards (NOS) and also made micro-credentials, and OEM-based qualifications. We have also provided scope for national/international achievers. Credit transfer is a mechanism to facilitate transfer of learner. We are establishing academic equivalence between general and vocational streams under NCrF.
After the sessions, Team Dataquest recognised the winners for their great work in the field of education, training and development for the next generations. Dr. Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, Chairman, NCVET and Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group presented the awards to the winner.
Ms. Rachna Garga, Sr. VP & Group Head, Cybermedia presented the vote of thanks.