New Delhi: Apeejay Education and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have launched the National Education Policy Accelerator Program (NEPAP), an initiative to enable academic institutions in India to align with the technology requirements documented in the Government’s National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). This is the first program in India to support the technology transformation of education institutions as per the NEP 2020.
The NEP 2020 aims to strengthen India’s education sector that directly contributes to the country’s growth and development, demonstrating the need to integrate technology in education to improve learning and teaching at all levels. The accelerator program will address two key tenets of the NEP 2020 – on the extensive use of technology in teaching, learning, education planning, and management; and in the creation of open, interoperable, evolvable, public digital infrastructure in the education sector to support multiple platforms and point solutions.
The accelerator program will guide academic institutions on multiple aspects of the NEP 2020. It will support academic institutions by conducting digital innovation workshops to focus on identifying and prioritizing unique challenges of the academic institutions, and co-building solutions or proof-of-concepts (POCs) using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AWS will drive these workshops based on the Amazon Working Backwards innovation methodology, which uses design thinking to identify and define a customer-focused problem or opportunity and develop prototypes. Through the accelerator program, AWS and Apeejay Education aim to support academic institutions with AWS credits and capacity building workshops, to build and implement the POCs. Apeejay Education will bring expertise on the use cases of digital solutions in the education sector, and support with testing the solutions to extend the reach to other institutions across India.
Apeejay Education is a pioneer in the adoption of technology and cloud computing and today, Apeejay Stya University – part of Apeejay Education – runs its entire learning management, fee and billing, governance, administration and admissions systems on AWS. The university’s digital readiness enabled it to offer online classes to students within 24 hours of the initial lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and scale its learning management system as needed. By running its critical systems on AWS, the university accelerated its journey to align with the NEP, and effectively engage its 35,000 students and 2,500 faculty members across 26 campuses in India.
“Academic institutions in India need to reach the digital maturity advised by the NEP 2020, and take advantage of the latest technologies to modernize their systems, address evolving learner expectations and demands, and achieve operating cost savings,” said Aditya Berlia, co–promoter, Apeejay Education. “There is a clear need today to help institutions identify and define problem statements, develop digital solutions, test their efficacies in fail-safe environments, and scale the solutions for the benefit of the education sector.”
The accelerator program will also create the NEP Solution Finder, a catalog of NEP 2020-aligned technology solutions developed by EdTechs in India. The NEP Solution Finder will list solutions tailor-made for the education sector, covering aspects such as digital transformation, administrative services, governance reform services, academic and curriculum restructuring, financial restructuring, local language support, among others.
“AWS is delighted to collaborate with Apeejay Education to help academic institutions in India focus on supporting their core mission of providing quality education, and delivering on their most strategic institutional priorities,” said Sunil PP, lead—education, space, and nonprofits, AISPL*, AWS India and South Asia. He added, “By bringing together academic institutions and Indian EdTechs, the accelerator program will help in the experimentation and development of cloud-based solutions scaled for India’s education sector, and aligned to the NEP 2020 vision.”
The accelerator program will also help academic institutions to publish whitepapers to amplify successful and replicable implementation models and solutions. This will encourage best practices on the implementation of NEP 2020, and in the creation of a knowledge repository.
Apeejay Education and AWS will run the accelerator program through multiple cohorts of academic institutions, who can apply for the program. EdTechs interested in showcasing their solutions to the academic institutions can also apply to participate in the accelerator program.
How are education institutions are already using EdTech solutions:
The future of examinations redefined today (Learning Spiral) – COVID-19 disruptions made exam management challenging for schools. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, West Bengal dealt with disruption during its peak exam season, which stressed close to 150,000 students, especially those transitioning between graduation and employment. The university worked with EdTech provider Learning Spiral to move its examination operations into the AWS Cloud. They have resumed exams, and the university can now add practicals as part of a student’s formative assessment journey and collate these on one integrated system. The university is now putting more emphasis on assessment styles that test higher-order problem-solving skills, such as open-book exams and coursework, to equip students with the skills and flexibility needed to succeed at tomorrow’s workplace.
Getting live online learning up and running in days (Impartus) – Impartus, a Bengaluru-based leading edtech startup, was among the first EdTech companies in India to launch a virtual classroom solution designed for live online learning free for schools and colleges, in collaboration with AWS, during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. Impartus offered to provide virtual classroom designed for live online learning, completely free to all Indian schools and colleges until April 30, 2020 (from early March), with support from its cloud service provider AWS. “Impartus Live” is a video platform especially designed for conducting live online classes and to take learning online. It mirrors the physical classroom experience, keeping in mind millions of first time online teachers and students. A student can not only attend engaging and interactive sessions on Impartus “Virtual Classroom”, but he/ she can also watch rich and secured video recordings of the class immediately thereafter.
A lot of universities and schools and institutes shifted from third-party video conferencing tools during the lockdown to use Impartus Live, as it is a comprehensive platform with deep focus on student engagement, security and mission critical reliability at scale – important pieces in live online learning, achieved using the AWS Cloud infrastructure. Some of the prominent education institutions that used Impartus Live are IIT Delhi, Manipal Group, Fr. Agnel Schools, Shiv Nadar Schools, BITS Pilani, Symbiosis, ICAI and edtech companies like Toppr and Vedantu. Impartus saw a 10x surge in daily usage, and onboarded 80+ new institutions, 40,000 teachers and over 500,000 students in the first four weeks since introducing the platform in March 2020.
Right to Read – English Skills Program (English Helper) – Most government-run schools in India use the local language as the medium of education and English language learning and proficiency is often challenging for the students. EnglishHelper (EH), a language learning technology company and social enterprise, realized the criticality of this challenge. They partnered with Schoolnet India Ltd, an education and skilling organization, to find a long-term solution. Built on the premise that language is best learned in a multi-sensory environment, ReadToMe, an AI software equipped with text-to-speech voice technology for multi-sensory reading and comprehension, was developed. Partnering with Intel and Amazon Web Services (AWS), EH was able to achieve scalability and provide the software to government-run schools across all states in India, which is now supporting the students of more than 25,000 schools and expected to grow to beyond 100,000 schools in 2021-22.
To ensure a wider reach, EH launched the RightToRead program that implements ReadToMe in various learning environments to support the learning needs of students. They approached several states within India to explore the possibilities this solution could open up for the students of government-run schools, especially in rural areas. This enabled EH to work with the governments across the country and deploy the RightToRead program in more than 25,000 schools impacting the lives of over 10M students and 100,000 teachers.