“Technology is a game changer in education”
says Ratnesh Jha, Managing Director – South Asia, Cambridge University Press, in conversation with Varsha Verma.
Technology is an enabler; we are going through a massive change in this volatile world, which is a huge opportunity. Publishing creates a large amount of value in terms of learner and assets. At Cambridge University Press, we have launched many products in this space.
Technology has changed the way we live and it has become a game changer in many industries, including education. So, how is technology shaping the publishing industry and how can publishers benefit from it, shares Ratnesh Jha, MD – South Asia, Cambridge University Press.
AABP: How has technology impacted academic publishing in the last few years? How has a university press like Cambridge University Press responded to and used technology?
Ratnesh: Technology is an enabler; we are going through a massive change in this volatile world, which is a huge opportunity. Publishing creates a large amount of value in terms of learner and assets. At Cambridge University Press, we have launched many products in this space. For academic and research space, we have Cambridge Core, which is helping in raising profiles of institutions. We work with researchers, academics and educators, helping them with the resources, which can help them do the research. That is how we are deploying technology.
In the K12 and English learning teaching space, we have really been aggressive to make it learner-centric. We are always looking at ways to enable solutions, which are technology/digital solutions, which can help raise the learning of the learners or for the teachers so that they become more enabled in the classroom with the learners.
Our vision is to unlock the potential of our learners, which rest on the three pillars – higher academic research based content, collaboration with entrepreneurs who come up with the new platforms/strategy etc and then having digital at the centre of it. This creates value for teachers, educators, researchers and learners. We continue to innovate in that space and will continue to see digital technology as our leveraging point and as our enabler.
AABP: How do you view this development in the context of your operation in India?
Ratnesh: India is unique in its languages; we are looking at building engines which look at English as a medium of instruction and how can we help raising the capacity of teachers and students by providing the best localised solutions. For English learning and teaching, we work with our sister concern Cambridge English, which is driven by world-class research and a profound commitment to delivering educational value for the benefit of learners, teachers, educational institutions, employers and society as a whole. As one of the world’s leading English Language Teaching publishers, Cambridge English offers market-leading courses and supplementary materials for learners of English in all age groups. We continue to lead the way in the development of new materials for teachers and students across a range of platforms, including online, interactive whiteboard and mobile apps.
To provide world-class training to IELTS aspirants and promote English language as a life skill, Cambridge University Press offers a partnership programme for Official Cambridge Preparation for IELTS. The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is one of the most widely used English language tests in the world. It comprises reading, writing, listening and speaking subtests and is designed for people who want to study or work where English is used as the language of communication.
We also offer IELTS Testbank, where every exam comprises of four computer-based tests, which are managed online in the Cambridge Learning Management System (CLMS). The tests are available in two modes: Test mode and Practice mode. Test mode offers timed practice by paper, replicating exam-like conditions. Practice mode offers more flexible practice by exam part and allows multiple attempts.Reading and Listening sections are auto-marked with instant reporting. Users can view results by exam or skill and teachers/administrators can check individual student’s answers. Students can also take a timed Speaking Test simulation where an examiner asks questions by video.
AABP: How has technology impacted your authors/users/readers?
Ratnesh: Depending on which segment, it has enabled them to have resource and content. The reach is better. They can gain knowledge now, which is the main advantage. A larger set of collaboration is happening now as there are community collaboration tools which help them in better understanding of the concept. As long as we see content is at the heart of it, we will have a huge set of impact on learners, researchers and educators to get better output and see technology as a partner. This has helped the overall society and the education system and us as a solution provider.
AABP: How do you see this panning out in the future – especially in India?
Ratnesh: Post Y2K, India has a large service economy, contributing to the large GDP of India. Technology is an enabler for raising the profile of the country. As we are also going through a change of becoming a knowledge economy, it becomes a huge enabler.
If we start consuming quality content, then we are on the right journey of becoming a knowledge economy, citizens of the country can aspire for better jobs and we create better skills. It’s a huge opportunity and challenge. If we don’t change with the changing times, it can pose a threat.
AABP: How is India viewed by Cambridge University Press?
Ratnesh: India is very important country for Cambridge University Press; we have had 4 CEOs across various business of Cambridge here. We are seeing how we can work locally, closely and contextualize the things here. We continue to seek learners and educators of 21st century and we are focused to contribute in their own journey. We are also running a programme called Teachers of Tomorrow, which facilitates teachers to hone their skills.
For more on Ratnesh Jha’s views on the Indian publishing landscape, see, Publishers on Publishing: Inside India’s Books Business, edited by Nitasha Devasar. Pages 26 & 39 have more details.