OUP Lets in Technology as Part of its Digital Evolution
Recognising the role that technology plays in today’s education, the Oxford University Press (OUP) recently undertook a programme across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, in which, they imparted education with the help of tablets. The programme, which involved some 500 teachers, tablets containing course material were used that included textbooks, work books, question banks, assessments, and teacher-lesson plans.
The OUP has also launched technology-based initiatives like Oxford Star and Oxford Advantage. Oxford Star is an assessment solution to assist students, teachers, parents, and school administrators profile student personalities, their scholastic ability, and 21st century competencies and skills in a graded manner.
On the other hand, Oxford Advantage is an integrated learning solution, which uses a group of educational materials and services. The programme includes mobile apps for students, teachers, and parents in its implementation.
A digital reading programme is in OUP’s plans for next month, an initiative that does not use text books at all. “Technology helps us present a lot more information, engage with students better, tailor teaching more efficiently and offer services such as assessment,” OUP’s CEO Nigel Portwood told BusinessLine while on a recent visit to India. “The challenge before us is how to make the technology work at the right price,” he added.
OUP’s presence has been in India for more than a hundred years now, their books in use in around 12,000 schools. After OUP adopted technology in 2015, 10% of its content has since been digital.
India has seen a boost in need for digital data and education after the advent of smart devices. IoT is forcing Indian education to change. Traditional classroom teaching has often been criticised in India, a skewed student-teacher ratio being one of the primary reasons. By way of necessity, the edtech startup ecosystem has produced some of the more radical ideas in the country; some successful, others not so much. Companies like Byju and Cuemath are using gamification to lure the young student into learning while having fun.
However, the OUP calls itself different from these startups. Sivaramakrishnan V, MD, OUP India told Businessline, “Unlike the edtech start-ups which go straight to learners, we keep teachers at the core of our effort. For us, technology is just an enabler. Deep knowledge of the content, pedagogy and relationship with institutions are the key elements that we bring into our products”.
In fact, OUP claims to be going contrary to edtech company trends. “We started with content then added technology,” Portwood said.
Having said that, OUP has joined hands with some startups in order to mingle technology into their ways. For example, it has collaborated with Report Bee for smart school report cards. It has also partnered with Mettl for the Oxford Star initiative and Excelsoft for the Oxford Advantage programme. “We are collaborating with our potential disruptors,” says Sivaramakrishnan. It is a win-win situation. We get technology and our partners, the access to the market through our wide reach of schools,” he added.
This week, OUP also announced changes in its technology operations, which will include a strategic relationship with global IT giant, Cognizant Technology Solutions. The move is a part of a series of organizational changes being applied in OUP’s technology function included in its plan for evolving towards a more digital business.
Cognizant is expected to provide a global team of educational technology and business experts, a global service desk, infrastructure and network management, application management, platforms management, testing, and service management.
Nigel Portwood, CEO Oxford University Press said, “This partnership will support our ambition to enhance our competitive technology capability, providing our customers with the very best digital resources and our organization with the best technology support. This is an important step in reshaping our organization to achieve future success against our educational and scholarly mission, which is focused on positively influencing the lives of researchers and learners worldwide.”