How India’s education sector underwent a digital transition and what lies ahead
Although online courses came to the rescue as the pandemic raged, they also brought out the reality of the digital divide.
The pandemic has increased India’s focus on online education Representative image via Facebook/@modernchildcare
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we learn. After the second wave of Covid, Indian education underwent a dramatic transformation, with online education replacing the age-old system of physical institutions. Previously seen as a silver bullet, measurement has now become the norm. The NEP 2020 also emphasizes the effective use of innovation to improve teaching and student learning through the use of technology. With schools reopening, it is incumbent on educational institutions to improve the classroom experience that students have been missing for two years by using technology to make the teaching and learning experience fun and engaging for students. .
While many believe the shift to online education was unplanned and temporary. However, as the saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures”. No one was prepared for this tectonic shift. There were many challenges in the beginning as students and teachers tried to get to grips with the technology and overcome obstacles to get there. With a few glitches, teachers and students have learned to embrace the platform that offers so many opportunities to make education convenient and fun at the same time, saving Indian education from collapsing.
find the balance
Blended learning has become the new norm post-lockdown. Blended learning, also known as blended learning, is a method of teaching and learning that combines traditional teaching with the use of digital technology, providing teachers and students with more flexibility to advance their teaching and learning experience. As schools have now reopened, this blended learning format will prove beneficial in finding the right balance between online and in-class learning to provide students with the best learning and interaction experience.
Digital Divide: A Blight on Online Learning
Even though online courses have come to the rescue, they have brought out the reality of the digital divide. Currently, Indian education lacks the infrastructure to teach all students in the digital space. Therefore, the value of offline courses cannot be underestimated. While e-learning was seen as a step up during the lockdown, it was not inclusive due to India’s massive digital divide. A study by the Azim Premji Foundation indicates that almost 60% of Indian school children do not have access to online learning opportunities. According to a similar study by Oxfam India, even among students attending urban private schools, half of their parents reported problems with internet signal and speed. A third were concerned about the cost of mobile data. Due to a lack of resources, 38% of households were forced to withdraw their child from school. 2021 (ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, 2021).
Fill the gap
As students return to educational institutions, the challenge will also be to assess the learning gaps created by the online model and find ways to integrate offline and online through the blended learning. Furthermore, Indian education should create a resilient mechanism to develop inclusive EdTech solutions to bridge the digital divide. The EU budget for 2022 also recognized the importance of making digital education accessible to all. These two years may have been a turning point in Indian education, but many students, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, were left behind. The education sector has seen a significant increase in budget allocation. To fill this gap, the government under PM e-VIDYA has launched the “One Classroom Channel” initiative where nearly 200 channels will provide additional instruction in regional languages from grades 1 to 12. The objective is to provide quality teaching materials to students who do not have access to the Internet.
There is no denying that online education was the only reasonable option for students to continue their education and prevent the education system from completely collapsing. Now that we know that online and offline modes must strike a balance for the holistic learning experience, there is now a need to comprehensively address several critical concerns in order to develop a more resilient system for the future. There is a need to find a balanced strategy to bring children to school safely and to optimize ICT to help them learn faster.
However, there is still a long way to go before the digital learning platform is accessible to everyone. With schools reopening, schools will be instrumental in bridging the gap created by online education.
The author is Chief Operating Officer, ODM Educational Group. Views are personal.
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