Jayant Bhadauria speaking to IndianEducationReview talked about the role of ICT in the education sector, various education initiatives and future plans of Adobe in India, the challenges faced by the country and solutions offered by Adobe.
Q. What do you think about the role of ICT in bringing change in the education system?
Jayant- It is generally agreed that ICT has a major role to play in education sector, it is critical for education sector. Government is spending a lot of money on ICT, Ministry of HRD has certain objectives which are active, equity and quality in school education. Same is in the case of higher education which is National Mission on Education that again emphasises on the role of ICT in increasing the enrolment ratio in higher education as we have shortage of teachers, with ICT they would like to increase number of students to learn and study from wherever they are. While another aspect is what are the changes required in the education sector, I think what is required is, we need to engage students in learning. School education has a problem of high dropout rate we need to work on how to decrease it. Similarly, in higher education we need to increase the number of students. So if we make our learning more engaging with the use of ICT that can change completely how our education system works. Similarly if we compare our education sector with western countries I think the difference is that in our country the emphasis is more on subjects like maths, science and things like that.
Q. And we are still continuing with more focus on theories rather than on practical applications?
Jayant- Yes, it is true and what we lack when you talk to people who have studied abroad is that how our students can express themselves and they can be more effective communicators compared to students outside. We need to bring that balance as we are very good in IT, mathematics and other things and if these aspects will also come in our students they will become much more successful. ICT can definitely help in bridging that gap.
Q. As you have been working in the field of Education for long time what have been your experiences so far?
Jayant- As per my experience, what I have observed in these years is that the educational institutions are recognizing the importance of technology. If we look at the challenges being faced by higher education sector its mainly in terms of student‚Äôs performance, every institute has the first objective as what are the results, how good students are doing, enrolment, infrastructure in terms of campus productivity, admissions etc so for all this technology is required in all these areas and institutes have limited budget in terms of hardware, software purchase. It is changing the way people are looking at new courses in universities, creative technology courses like multimedia and animation. Slowly they are recognising that novel things are required and we are seeing this change all across, similarly in schools that are in K-12 sector there is more emphasis on digital skills and use of technology to engage students more and make learning easy.
Q. How challenging it is to convince people to use technology?
Jayant- It is equally challenging in any sector, especially in education sector. You have to show the benefits and once people are able to see that, they are open to implement technology. Definitely the challenges in education sector are in terms of the decision process and the cycle being longer than probably some of the other verticals but that‚Äôs given because in other sectors there are various reasons which propel them to take decisions faster while in education how decisions are taken is different as well as how technology is implemented is different from other sectors.
Q. How difficult it is to deal with government agencies in making them partner?
Jayant- As I told earlier also, it is not difficult to make them partner if they see any benefit in it they are ready to implement. We have partnered with many government agencies as well as government universities; we have and we are working with them. We have partners like IGNOU, we also work with state governments like Delhi government or Rajasthan government. It takes time but it is not difficult to partner with them the only thing is, as there is a lot of approvals required it gets delayed but once they see the benefits they certainly implement the programmes and become partner.
Q. How Adobe‚Äôs Education programme is different from others?
Jayant- Our offerings are completely different from other companies as other vendors who are offering their services are either offering engineering oriented services or they are at a very basic level like word processing etc. Adobe focuses on 21st century skills or digital skills earlier inter-personal skills of student was required now it is technology skills, problem solving skills, how they can express themselves with the use of multi-media tools, individual with creative skills. Adobe‚Äôs solutions not only provide technology but also training, certification and curriculum. We have curriculum aligned in four areas with certification from ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) which helps student build these 21st century skills. This curriculum is created by Adobe and is available for everybody in higher education or school education. Similarly at school level also that is K-12, we have started Adobe digital learning programme to prepare students with 21st century skills and enhance the learning experiences.
Q. Do you make country centric programmes, what are the programmes running in India?
Jayant- As far as offerings are concerned, we have global offerings but we customise it according to the need of India, like I mentioned about Adobe digital learning programme which is specific for India where we are helping schools in capacity building that is training teachers which helps teachers engage students and create a learning environment. What we do is we go to schools we take some master or teachers and tell them how with the use of technology they can make subjects easier for students to learn. They take some subject take certain topic create learning object on them and then use it in the classroom. Similarly, this will also help students learn tools and they will become the future workforce as lots of these tools are required in the industry and industry requires people with skills. We also prepare students at higher secondary level where there are vocational courses, train them with Adobe technology so that they are ready for the industry.
Q. Do you have different programmes for schools/colleges for rural and urban India?
Jayant- We do not have different programmes but our approach is different, if we look at K-12 level we have offerings like Adobe Digital school collection where we also have teacher resources again in terms of licensing we have site licensing for schools. In Higher Education, we have campus licensing and students and teacher edition but when we go to the rural areas the approach for training changes, we understand that we have to start from very basic like to bring them to use these technologies whereas in urban areas the training is similar to what we have globally. We have four different areas for higher education - digital design, visual design, video production and web2.0 with rich internet application. In Adobe Youth Voices we go to underprivileged schools in rural areas and help students learn digital skills to express themselves, it is one of the approaches to increase awareness in rural areas.
Q. India is highly diversified in terms of region, language, literacy, etc, how difficult it is to implement programmes here?
Jayant- If we look at the overall scenario the tools are still available in English but how to customise it in local language, for this purpose we have partners. We have partners in Tamil Nadu who have created modules in Tamil to make it easier or in Rajasthan it has been created in Hindi that helps them to learn these tools but still basic things are in English.
Q. So are you doing something to localise these basic things for better understanding?
Jayant- That is the thing, we are trying to customise the tools for learning but the tool itself recently in Flash we allow multiple language and many more to come.
Q. What have been the achievements of various education activities so far? What is your future plan related to India?
Jayant- I think we still have a long way to go in terms of achieving adoption of our technology, digital skills in schools and in higher education. We have been trying to touch lot of students and faculty members through various programmes, we run the APAC awards for schools, we have Adobe Design achievement award for higher education so it‚Äôs a continuous engagement. There is a lot of emphasis on rich internet applications, there is a big demand. If you look at FlexJobs.in, it‚Äôs a website it shows there is a shift towards interactive design and there is very high demand for rich internet application. People who are doing programming, engineers who join the IT industry there is a huge demand for professionals who can work on Flex, which is the Adobe technology. We are also doing lot of youth camps and campus programmes to in promote this technology in the student community.
Q. What are the products/solutions that Adobe can offer to schools and colleges in India?
Jayant- For schools we have Adobe digital school collection which is a set of tools plus various teacher resources, for higher education we have creative suite there are five different creative suites depending on the area like web, print and video, we have Adobe e-learning suite for universities and colleges who are trying to create content, we have our connect pro platform for e-learning, we have programmes for students licence in schools and higher education. We have livecycle range of products for document workflow.
Q. What percentage of your company‚Äôs India revenues currently comes from the education vertical?
Jayant- Roughly about 16 percent of our revenue comes from the education vertical in India.
Q. When it comes to implementing technology in Indian education, what are the opportunities that you see for Adobe?
Jayant- I think opportunity is huge as far as education vertical is concerned, every desktop or every laptop will require my tool, and every faculty needs Adobe tools. In IITs whole campus needs acrobat collection and our master collection so as more and more awareness in increasing and ICT skills are required everybody needs our tolls on desktops and laptops. For server, we have our Connect Pro platform as well as flash media server for streaming as well as our livecycle solutions so as colleges are looking at implementing ICT they will be using Adobe tools.