Oxford dictionary defines education as a process of teaching, training and learning especially in schools or colleges to improve and develop skills. In a simple definition education is the process of facilitating; learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs and habits. The concept of traditional education of being physically present in the classroom has changed radically within the last couple of years. With the rise of internet and inventions of new technology anyone have access to quality education whenever and wherever they want.
The only thing that you need is the access to a computer or even a smartphone. Currently we are entering to a new era – the revolution of online education. With the outbreak of global pandemic – COVID-19 the revolution of online education boosted up. In India with the outbreak of this pandemic educational institutions were closed and government has been encouraging online education to achieve academic continuity. Many of the high ended institutions irrespective of public and private have switched to online education using various platforms like zoom, Google meet, Microsoft teams etc. While many still find it as a herculean task. The challenges of online education in a country like India are multi faced. It is the right time that we Indians as a society understand the realms of online education. As it is completely different from the concept of traditional education it has advantages and disadvantages.
Is online education good for students
Online education allows for learning something beyond the norm. A leaner has access to unlimited topics and global experts in each subject something that is not affordable or imaginable for many people. Online programs allows people of a wide age group to learn there own interests without compromising other responsibilities at there own place. With the wide spread of COVID-19 in India online education has trickled down to the grass root level – from kindergarten to colleges ! Students have same voice when we ask about their experience with online education “ online option is a need in this pandemic situation. It is more flexible because it has brought education to us without going anywhere”.
Flexibility is one of the advantages of online education. it enables the teacher and student to set there own learning there own pace and flexibility of setting a schedule that fits for everyone and it allows a balance of work and studies. It teaches a vital time management skill which makes finding a good work study balance easier. Having a common agenda between student and teacher can also help both parties to accept new responsibilities and have better comfortability.
It offers wider selection of programs to students. There are infinite skills and subjects to teach and learn from the vast and wide space of internet. There are many universities and schools are offering online version of there programs for various levels and disciplines. From music to data science, there are tremendous number of options are available for every type of students based on there tastes. Studying a program online is also a great option for getting an official certificate, diploma or degree without physically present on the classroom.
Life time access is another good side of virtual education. It enables the learners to study from anywhere in the world. This means there’s no need to shift from one place to another or follow a tight schedule. Many online education providing platforms has the option to record classes so the students can access the classes anytime when they needed. Virtual classroom is available anywhere there’s a good internet connection, the most important advantage is there’s no need to give up your dreams. You can go for your work as the same time you can study.
This is encouraging but the moment when online education moves from optional to the only mode of learning for a too long term, it’s bad and ugly face became evident in a country like India because India is beginning to get taste of this now.
Using internet for entertainment is common but for online education is a big challenge. Teachers may not be well aware of creating digital content and conveying them effectively during classroom. Most of the teachers were molded by the concept of traditional education and may not be unaware of handling computers or even smartphones. A sudden expectation from them to upgrade, and from students to adapt, is unfair.
Along with the advantages online education have disadvantages too. Body language and eye contact, which are important cues for the teacher, are difficult to perceive in an online class. How many students have paid attention in a class? Howmany understood the lesson? Is the teaching technique is alright? These questions arise even in the traditional classrooms, but they are harder to address in an online class. The concentration span of kids are very small and they do not pay attention after a while. Even college students seem to value there physical learning experience more than a virtual classroom.
In addition to that, science and technology programs includes laboratory sessions, projects, field trips to complete the theoretical studies. Finally, education is not just about subject knowledge but also about developing social skills and sportsmanship among the students which is built over the past years. Relying solely on virtual education may hinder the holistic sociocultural development of children, and many may underperform later in their personal and professional lives
Along with the good and bad facts of online education, there is an ugly fact. India is a large country having more than 127 crore population with a wide geographic and cultural diversity. It also suffers from huge socioeconomic divide. Only a small part of the Indian population has access to online education right now. Interrupted power supply, weaker internet connectivity, unaffordability to buy necessary devices are major concerns. To deal with internet connectivity and device ability issues ‘classes’ in many places are happening via sharing of video lectures by teachers over WhatsApp group or YouTube channel so that students can access it any time at their convenience. The situation is same in the case of prerecorded sessions telecasting through television channels.
Many of the poor families don’t have access to televisions in villages and tribal regions. In a recent survey of 733 students studying in government schools in Bihar, only 28% of the girls had smartphones in their homes, in contrast to 36% of the boys and half of the families couldn’t afford the internet data packages. There for lessons telecasted on television was the main option for a majority of the students participating in this survey. This is not only the situation in a particular state but also the whole India facing the same issue.
Surveys shows that cyber crimes and cyber crime victims are rapidly increasing among children after the shift from traditional education to virtual. Based on the reports and representations from various sources it has been revealed that the cyber security and it’s related attacks have increased at a very faster rate and significantly in past years.
There is a global recognition of the need for inclusive education policies during the pandemic. To make online education more effective, accessible and safer various online resources, training programs and schemes have been developed by the government of India for students, teachers and educational institutions. The teaching community has come together to form a nation wide informal and voluntary network of teachers called Discussion Forum of Online Teaching (DFOT) to discuss different aspects of online teaching and create repositories of essential resources. IIT Kharagpur has collaborated with Amazon Web Services to develop National AI Resource Platform (NAIRP) the future possibilities of which include monitoring eye movement, motion and other parameters for better teaching and learning. Google has also indicated future support in AI based education India.
Online education opens up a lot of possibilities for students and teachers. At the same time it may also widen the socioeconomic fabric of India. Virtual education in country like for a too long period has various limitations. Our current educational policies, curriculum doesn’t support virtual education upto an extant. Good vision, sincere efforts and time will India the way ahead.
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