With educational facilities shuttered owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has been supporting online education to achieve academic continuity. While most high-end private and governmental institutions have successfully transitioned to online platforms such as Zoom, Google Classrooms, Microsoft Teams, and others, with initial hiccups many others are still finding it a monumental challenge. The problems of online education are varied. It wasn’t easy for children, teachers, parents or even school administration to transition to the techno world. The entire education system had to be transformed fromphysical class to digital one which probably had to be more interesting for children to hold on and concentrate, making it more interesting. Suddenly your home was your school, and one had to set it up accordingly and get going.
What is Online Education?
Computer-based training, Web-based training, Internet-based training, online training, e-learning (electronic learning), m-learning (mobile learning), computer-aided distance education – online education goes by many names and comes in a variety of styles, but at its core “Online education is electronically supported learning that relies on the Internet for teacher/student interaction and the distribution of class materials.” It is a learning process to acquire knowledge, information, skills and techniques one gets through a digitally supported system. The Covid-19 pandemic brought a paradigm shift in the entire education system globally. One can say a raise in e-learning era. From a student in New York to another in Helsinki to another in Kanyakumari, anyone could pursue online classes.The entire education world opened upwhen the physical world came to stand still if you say so dramatically. Billions of children were out of the classroom but could still log in if the internet network supported.
How does Online Education help students?
Students can discover various reasons why online classes/learning is the future of Education. As they are mentioned here:
- It’s flexible and easily accessible
- It’s more cost-effective than traditional education
- It offers a wide selection of programs
- Doesn’t require any traveling
- Self-paced coursework
- It builds confidence in students
- Network with other students and mentors globally
- Easy and faster access
What Are The Advantages Of Online Learning?
Online learning offers teachers an efficient way to deliver lessons to students. Online learning has a number of tools such as videos, PDFs, podcasts, and teachers can use all these tools as part of their lesson plans. By extending the lesson plan beyond traditional textbooks to include online resources, teachers are able to become more efficient educators.
2. Accessibility of Time and Place
Another advantage of online education is that it allows students to attend classes from any location of their choice. It also allows schools to reach out to a more extensive network of students, instead of being restricted by geographical boundaries. Additionally, online lectures can be recorded, archived, and shared for future reference. This allows students to access the learning material at a time of their comfort.
3. Suits a Variety of Learning Styles
Every student has a different learning journey and a different learning style. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom, and other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups.
The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect learning environment suited to the needs of each student.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Online Learning?
1. Screen Time
Many parents are concerned about the health hazards of having their children spend so many hours staring at a screen. This increase in screen time is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of online learning. Sometimes students also develop bad posture and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen. Headaches, strained eyes, increase in eye power and need for glasses, children developing habit of online chats and spending hours on system are common complaints of parents these days.
2. Sense of Isolation
Students can learn a lot from being in the company of their peers. However, in an online class, there are minimal physical interactions between students and teachers. This often results in a sense of isolation for the students. In this situation, it is imperative that the school allow for other forms of communication between the students, peers, and teachers. This can include online messages, emails and video conferencing that will allow for face-to-face interaction and reduce the sense of isolation. Children who are shy and take time to grasp, face a lot of challenges in just 30-40 minute class. Teachers are also swamped with multiple classes too. Many times some children are left behind while catching up the pace to finish the syllabus. Social interaction, physical meetings, group discussions with friends and teachers are very helpful in these cases.Child’s other developments like social interaction, soft skills, personality development, physical education, sports, art and many more which has larger scope of improvement in physical school set up and learning from peers gets effected in limited online classroom teaching.
3. Inability to Focus on Screens
For many students, one of the biggest challenges of online learning is the struggle with focusing on the screen for long periods of time. With online learning, there is also a greater chance for students to be easily distracted by social media or other sites. Therefore, it is imperative for the teachers to keep their online classes crisp, engaging, and interactive to help students stay focused on the lesson.
4. Technology Issues
Another key challenge of online classes is internet connectivity. While internet penetration has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, in smaller cities and towns, a consistent connection with decent speed is a problem. Without a consistent internet connection for students or teachers, there can be a lack of continuity in learning for the child. This is detrimental to the education process.
Why is Online Education Better Than Traditional Education?
1. You aren’t constrained by geography.
2. Online learning may be more interesting than learning in a classroom.
3. The feedback cycle is shorter and more frequent.
4. You have a greater degree of control over your schedule.
5. The online classroom is a great way to get ready for a changing workforce.
How Do Online Education In India Work?
- As the name implies, every online school in India’s whole technique is fully reliant on a digital device, an active internet connection, an instructor, and a student. Some educational institutions are solely available online, while others are available both on and off the internet.
- Several schools provide online courses and programs in which students can enroll, learn, finish the program, and receive a certificate. These schools also support India’s homeschooling beliefs. Schools, colleges, and universities use their learning management systems to function digitally, either entirely or partially.
- Learning management systems (LMS) are virtual platforms that allow students to create profiles and learn regardless of where they live. Assessments, automatic grading, academic content, and other services are available through LMS.
- Some institutes, on the other hand, use video conferencing software such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet to implement virtual learning without the use of a learning management system (LMS). Using this program, instructors and students may communicate and connect digitally.
Online Education vs. Traditional Education
|Online Education||Traditional Education|
|The students need to have just a computer and a good internet source to take the classes.||Heavy books, notebooks, pens, and all related things are needed for taking the classes.|
|There is time flexibility during online education as the aspirants can attend the classes from anywhere at any time.||There is a fixed schedule of classes and the students have no power to change that schedule according to their time.|
|The students can get the personalized attention of the tutor to solve any problem or clear any doubt.||It is hard to get personalized attention during the traditional education system.|
Major Challenges in Online Education
- Incorporating online education in the general education system isn’t an easy task, with the new set of rules comes many challenges.
- Conducting live sessions and streaming them for the children who belong to the rural part of India is not possible because of the poor network connectivity. Even if the rural areas are gaining knowledge about new technologies like smartphones, laptops, or tablets, and are doing everything to afford it, the lack of internet network supply is still a big issue.
- Unaffordability is a big issue. For the low-class community like farmers, maids, household staff, sweepers who have low incomes, affording a laptop or computer is a really difficult task.
- Practical learning is not possible in online classes. Even if teachers can explain the theoretical aspects, students still need practical training to grasp what they have learned, which is most common in subjects like science and practical arts.
- If we take the example of rural India, almost 30% of them are not computer literate and many don’t even know how to start a computer. Having basic computer knowledge is important if we want to provide online education in every part of the country.
- It is a big challenge for teachers too. It’s not important that a classroom teacher can be good at teaching in online sessions.
- To conduct an online examination, India has only a limited number of resources available and moreover, the numbers of questions asked are also limited.
What went wrong?
Many believe that remote learning is not as effective as face-to-face learning. This is based on partial preparation from most traditional schools and the overnight shift to online learning. Most teachers are not trained in online teaching so their classes can seem sub-standard and ill-planned.
The reality of structured online education is still unknown to most of us. Students can engage more through home-based online schooling if teachers are experienced and knowledgeable enough to conduct effective online classes for all age groups.
While the online education system was probably suiting the adults and more grown-up children in terms of being independent it was very difficult for younger kids, especially the ones in primary or even for that matter pre-school children. It became a nightmare for parents and especially working parents to juggle and balance their work with their child’s live class. Imagine a call with a customer viz a viz a toddler who needs their attention with whom they had to sit in an online class. A child who merely started writing suddenly had to learn all the tools and techniques of Zoom, Microsoft office, Google classroom and upload the work, even learn to crop and edit the picture to upload in order to complete their school task. The transition wasn’t easy. Working parents had to shift their work and prioritize accordingly. The physical school was their biggest support system while they were out at work. And now suddenly your home was your school and so was your office which you had to open up to the world.
In rural India, several teachers and students faced challenges with this sudden shift to online learning. They lacked the basic infrastructure, knowledge, and accessibility to thrive in a virtual learning environment.
Because of the narrative of lack of resources in rural India, most believe that the idea of online schooling has been discarded and teachers and students are desperately waiting to get back on track with face-to-face classes. But there is another side to this story…
Despite all of the hardships and initial challenges, many Indian stakeholders have accepted this visionary medium as a credible alternative. A survey shows the growing acceptance of online education across various rural areas in India. Two findings include:
- 11% of rural families brought a new mobile phone during school closures.
- 2% of students in rural India received material through WhatsApp.
Future of Online Education in India
There has been a growing movement to online education as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. As eLearning is seen as the way of the future, this shift appears to be becoming more permanent. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the realm of online education would improve India’s whole educational system. This would not only help kids study more effectively, but it would also expand the country’s professional options. Full-time classroom experiences being relocated to a computer screen, on the other hand, is a relatively new concept in the globe. Much work has to be done in order to realize the full potential of online learning.
Online education has not only proved effective in ensuring ongoing education for school and college-going kids, but it has also changed the way applicants in India prepare for competitive tests. Every year, lakhs of aspirants take various competitive exams in India, including the Civil Services Exam, SSC CGL, SSC CHSL, Banking sector exams such as SBI PO, SBI Clerk, IBPS PO, IBPS Clerk, Railway Recruitment Board exams, and others conducted by State Public Service Commissions and other recruiting bodies. For many students who aim to clear these tests and acquire a government job, they are incredibly significant. The pandemic has also challenged the way that candidates prepare for these exams and limited their access to various sources of preparation such as coaching institutes, study materials, and so on.
Th online education system has no doubt opened up to the world giving great access to anyone from North Pole to the south. One also can’t deny the fact – the power of classroom teaching and the traditional/physical education system where the student makes lifetime bond with their Gurus, with their Apomitra – a friend. Probably the way the world changes who knows what is the call for the future? A completely online system with the cost-effective model, a physical education system or a blend of both, a hybrid model with the goodness of both or may be a new alien format that we may soon be introduced. Are you ready for all?