COVID 19, Lockdown, and Education In India
The shocking and severe impact of COVID-19 has disturbed the world to its core. Further, most of the Governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions as an effort to inhibit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In India also, to control the spread of COVID-19, the government as a part of the nationwide lockdown has closed all educational institutions. Due to this the students varying from school-going children to postgraduate students, are affected.
These nationwide shutting down of educational institutions are affecting over 91% of the worlds’ student population. UNESCO is supporting countries in their efforts to alleviate the immediate impact of school and college closures, mainly for more susceptible and disadvantaged communities, and to make possible the continuity of education for all through remote learning. The UNESCO report has estimations that this pandemic will negatively impact over 280 million students across 22 countries. The UNESCO estimates that around 32 crores of school and college students are affected in India.
Therefore, to cope with this the government has come up with e-learning programs. Many ed-tech companies and organizations have tried to leverage the chance by offering free online classes for some modules or some attractive discounts on e-learning modules. These measures have been met with a great response by students. Remote learning seems a workable solution to students during this time of pandemic as they offer convenient and affordable access to lessons. E-learning also comes as an interesting and interactive substitute as compared to the classroom or on-campus teaching.
However, Covid-19 has incited experts to rethink the usual and traditional mode of education. Digital education i.e., e-learning appears to be a practical solution to fill in the gap for classroom education for some months while minimizing the chances of any infection to students until classes resume. More importantly, it has also brought the previously unimportant issue of digital education in India into the limelight. In the near future, digital education is likely to be included in mainstream education. This will support inclusive education by facilitating learning across diverse layouts in India. Furthermore, it will provide an opportunity for educators to come up with personalized and customized learning solutions for every student.
Technology has brought a complete revolution in the way we learn today. Each student gets in contact with an outstanding education, which is not easy to pass on by the traditional classroom and white chalk and blackboard method of teaching. This new learning in the mode of e-learning is more interesting, personalized, and enjoyable. A massive open online course is an online course for learners, intended at participation that is not limited to anyone and open access via the web. India is considered to be the largest market for online courses in the world. As the population of India is enormous, massive open online course is said to open doors for a lot of Indians in terms of bringing an educational revolution. The e-learning and online distant learning programs give a great opportunity to take advantage of high-quality learning with the help of internet connectivity.
Digital learning has many advantages in itself. Digital learning has no boundaries, it has more learning engagement experience than traditional learning, it is also cost-effective and students get to learn in the confines of their comfort zone. However, digital learning has its limitations and challenges, as face-to-face interaction is usually apparent as the best form of communication as compared to the nature of remote learning. Worldwide, online education has met with some success.
In India’s case, we still have a long way to go to have digital learning as mainstream education. As students living in the cities and urban areas have the facilities to opt for digital education, but students in the rural areas do not have the required arrangement or infrastructure nor are economically strong to avail the resources required for digital education. The building of the infrastructure for digital education by the Government of India presently appears to be challenging due to a lack of budget. Even if the digital infrastructure is built, many things need to be taken care of after that. Training has to be given to the teachers to use the digital system of e-learning to provide genuine and proper, constant, and unified education to the students. Remote learning increasingly depends on a reliable power supply and proper Internet connectivity which might be an unlikely thing for some areas in India.
Another challenge that e-learning comes across is that it has a somewhat irregular and impersonal experience. Also, e-learning is likely to have a high dropout rate due to the lack of surrounding for studying. Students might be likely to get distracted by gaming or social media on the devices. Also, a comfortable atmosphere at home might not give a sense of learning while taking online classes. Successful delivery of education is also in question as learning at the college level and learning at the school level can be different. Digital education needs to be applied differently at every level of education.
With so many different ways to define e-learning and the educational approaches that can be taken in these learning environments, many colleges and schools have started making use of the technology. Through applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, etc various colleges have undertaken the task of educating students through video meetings. These applications are beneficial with a lot of advantages. Using these apps gives a good picture and sound clarity which makes teaching and learning effective for both the mentor and the student.
But at the same time, there is an evident disadvantage as exams have to be postponed. All the examinations cannot be conducted online unless they are objective based. Developing a determined and well-defined online course, which supports the mentor and learner also is challenging. And that means dedicating the apt time and embedding the relevant course elements into the e-learning environment. Through the use of technology, we can at least compensate for the inconvenience that this pandemic has caused to the education system. . So learning has to keep on evolving continuously. The Institutions in India can take this inconvenience as an opportunity to include digital education in learning in the coming times.
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