Technology is changing the way we interact with the world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already started, and technologies like artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3D printing, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the building blocks of this new era. This Industry 4.0 is characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the boundaries between biological, physical, and digital worlds. The impact of Industry 4.0 will be largely seen in changing customer expectations, product enhancements, organizational forms, and collaborative innovation.
While technology is penetrating almost every industrial sector, the education sector has seen its impact only now. The online learning model has existed for quite some time but had only a limited customer base. Now with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sudden surge in the number of learners turning to eLearning platforms to continue their education. With the universities and educational institutes forced to shut down indefinitely, learners were bound to get used to the changing technology and adapt to the new online platforms.
Not only for the K-12 studies, but eLearning platforms were quite useful for professionals also. Since digital skills are the need of the hour, employees across various industrial sectors started upskilling themselves by taking online courses. One of the other reasons to take such courses was to prepare for industry-recognized certifications like ITIL 4 Foundation, CISSP, CEH, PMP, and Lean Six Sigma. These courses are often mentored by industry experts and fit easily into one’s occupied schedule.
Talking about the competitive exams, it has been conducted on pen and paper for years. The governments have now taken initiatives to switch to Computer-Based Tests (CBT), which leverage technology to simplify the overall exam process. Though the people from rural areas may not feel familiar with giving exams on computers, it is high time that learners get used to such a testing environment. Initially, there may be some problems in setting up the required infrastructure for computer-based tests, but they come with long-term benefits for the organizers.
Technological advancements have revolutionized the way organizers design competitive exams and schedule, organize, monitor, and evaluate them. With the introduction of the CBT model, applying for the exams has become quite easier. Traditionally, applicants had to send the necessary documents through the post and wait for the admit card to arrive using the same channel. But with an online application system, they can now upload the soft copies of their documents and download their admit cards online itself. The evaluation of exams can also become quite accurate, with very little possibility of human errors.
The data generated from online assessments can be analyzed to correlate it with national standards so that applicants can be measured on such standards. If the exam consists of only multiple-choice or true/false type questions, then it can be scored instantly. This will speed up the time taken to declare the results and start the next process. Moreover, the CBT method can be more transparent with minimal possibility of cheating and leaking of question papers.
The inclusion of technology in the process of preparation of such CBTs is also beneficial for applicants. Today, many reliable mobile applications have emerged that help learners prepare for competitive exams like IIT JEE, NEET, GATE, CAT, and SSC, among others. With advanced tools, video conferencing, real-time testing, and tracking progress, the edtech platforms have succeeded in gaining registrations of millions of students. The platforms are offering live instructor-led classroom training, which is quite similar to physical classroom training.
Surveys have found that out of the students who are currently taking offline means to prepare for competitive exams, around 70% would shift to online training if given access to live classes online. The convenience of preparation, reduced costs, and access to live classes are the top reasons learners want to shift to edtech platforms. Moreover, students from rural areas and Tier II, Tier III cities would also get a chance to learn from subject matter experts rather than the limited options available locally. Learners from such areas need not shift to cities to tap the better preparation opportunities in urban areas.
To sum up, technology is no more an added value in every industry; it has become a necessity. Businesses that don’t upgrade their processes as per the latest technological advancements have the risk of becoming obsolete. The same holds true for the education sector. Competitive exams have proved to be effective in finding the right talent for a nation’s growth. So, it is essential that governments create a robust infrastructure for conducting them by adopting the right technologies.