Transforming Education With Cutting-Edge Technology
The pandemic has had a significant impact on education, with technology increasingly influencing how we learn. According to studies, investment in educational technology has surged from $500 million to $16.1 billion in just three years. Introducing technology, which allows for scattered and digitally optimized experiences, enhances learning for students while also increasing efficiency for educators and administrators. The advantages of digital transformation extend beyond online learning to provide students and educators with new tools. This is a strong indication that the use of technology tools in education is growing in popularity.
In terms of establishing a set of governing frameworks as effective educational outcomes, what are some of the challenges faced by academic institutions in achieving those set outcomes or even bringing about a certain change within the EdTech space?
On behalf of my own organization—Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP), the advancement of technology coupled with the ever-growing needs of the users brought some interesting challenges especially during the difficult times brought on by the pandemic. In terms of systems, without revealing anything too specific, we were using a legacy system that was built on a 15-year-old platform that no longer supported the use of modern-day browsers let alone mobile devices. The challenge of trying to migrate the functionality of the system into a more modern environment without losing any of its usability and more importantly the 15 years’ worth of data was enticing to say the least. As of now, we have completed the first part of the migration that allows the system to be accessed using modern browsers, but there are still plenty of work to be done before we get it to the level we want.
During the pandemic, a major challenge was the need for everyone to be able to work remotely. This required the IT department to be on high alert on all times. Policies needed to be amended, systems needed to be changed to reflect the policy changes, and entire the IT infrastructure needed to be at its best to allow for minimal disruptions in daily operations. Being a publicly funded institution, this presented a rather unique challenge as we are bound by policies and procedures that governs our expenses through a series of meetings by our stakeholders. This forced us to be more agile and create more creative solutions in-house by empowering our developers. We also had a strong backing by the top management who were willing to update all relevant policies quickly to allow all operations to remain smooth. Once the pandemic subsided, we began to get back to normal.
Are there any noteworthy genres of technology, such as artificial intelligence or blockchain that helped the UMP in digitization?
In UMP, we have recently come up with a Smart Campus Blueprint 2022-2025 that outlines the technological development and advancement that would take place in the university from now until the end of 2025. Both Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain feature heavily in this blueprint together with other genres of technology such as Virtualization, IoT and Data Analytics. We intend to work with the technological experts within the university mainly to create solutions for the digital transformation of the university. Nevertheless, we also engage with technological partners including UMP Holdings, a subsidiary of UMP in establishing some digital solutions.
As far as Blockchain is concerned, UMP is not a stranger to this technology. We have developed our own solution for authenticating our graduates’ certificated through an app called UMP Valid8 in the year 2018 and it has been used ever since, validating thousands of graduates. Personally, I am also an advocate of the Blockchain technology, having consulted for various organizations as well as building solutions for not just UMP, but other agencies as well.
Are there any pieces of technology like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) that you feel will serve as the pedestal for the future of education technology? As a thought leader, do you particularly see any noteworthy trend that might build a foundation for something much larger in the near future?
For me, AR/VR are really intriguing for education and there are many institutions working on the likes of these technology for education. However personally, I believe that integration between education and data analytics should be more prominent. Data analytics can be used to personalize the learning environment for each student. We all know students have preferences and aptitudes; and all of this information is data. If we can gather the data and use it to guide students to do better in various areas based on their aptitudes and interests, it will genuinely benefit students.
Imagine collecting data for every individual student from day one; every program joined, every extra-curricular activity, every remark made by their lecturers and also every aptitude assessment taken. These data, when analyzed could ultimately profile the individual students and to a certain extend suggest a tailor-made program for each student–allowing the students to excel in their preferred and personalized domains.