Shift to Online Learning: A Boon or Bane
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We often hear that the education system is broken. While specific issues vary from one school to another, the core of the problem remains the same everywhere. Lack of funding restricts both teachers and students from trying new learning methodologies. This trend has continued for long and applies to a majority of schools.
Offline learning also overlooks the magical ingredient of ‘engagement’ among its different stakeholders. Engagement functions similar to the game of ‘tag your partner’ which facilitates strong communication and connection while achieving a collective goal. In this case, an enhanced learning experience.
Students find ‘irrelevance of the curricula for their development’ as one of the problematic parts, apart from financial issues, peer pressure and the lack of interest. The present form of schooling falls short on motivation and hence, as a strategy to engage students. And, because of repetitive teaching-learning methodologies, both students and teachers lose enthusiasm. The students need to know how to analyse, find solutions, and adapt rather than tying them up with text-bookish knowledge that gives no practical skills to lead their lives.
The digital makeover of education
Here, online learning steps in as a coach. It has addressed the pain-points that had troubled students and mentors alike. Online learning gives an interesting, relevant, and motivational bend to regular education. Students also get to experience a role-reversal by acting as problem-solvers for their peers in the same boat, thereby reinforcing their own acquired knowledge.
Clearly, digitization is the magic word and one of the biggest strengths of education today, while artificial intelligence and machine learning are two wands that have simplified the process. The free technology solutions are being used by millions via smartphones and laptops to learn new concepts or gain clarity over the previous ones. Once feared, even homework has never been so much fun and insightful. Online learning platforms have become a playground for learners of all age groups.
The rise of online learning
We don't need to wander far off to look for instances wherein online learning platforms have lent a helping hand to learners. With schools and other educational institutes shut, the recent outbreak exemplifies the spirit of new-age continuous-learning platforms.
According to SimilarWebData, online learning platforms in India have seen a surge amid the nationwide lockdowns. They drew up to 4 per cent of the total Web-traffic. Brainly itself accelerated growth from 150 million to over 250 million worldwide (May 2019 vs. May 2020), while successfully garnering more than 25 million users in India. This marks the acceptability and popularity of interactive learning methodologies and depicts exactly what the modern learner wants.
With more students using personal computers and mobile phones to resume virtual classes, the share of online learning will see a dramatic rise. Though it may not completely overtake the offline market, it is expected to see a sizable growth of 20-40 per cent—a notch above the pre-COVID levels.
The other side of online education
- COVID may also turn the things topsy-turvy for the online education sector. Limited resources to fight the pandemic, a huge population, economic downturn, and rising cases can affect the financial stability of both individuals and institutions.
- Students who don’t have access to technology in their homes may see a slump in their education because of the lack of resources. The academic gap between students who can and cannot afford technology and digital devices will grow further. Once considered a level-playing field, the technology will itself discriminate amongst its beneficiaries.
- Educators don’t have the tools to help students from lower economic backgrounds learn from home. Teachers aren’t able to connect with the ones who don’t have access to devices.
So who wins: Offline or Online?
The game isn’t about whether online learning is better than learning in-person. Online learning is not an alternative but a supplement to traditional education. Schools will continue to act as the primary source of education but online modes can help the process become more enjoyable and insightful for students. It’s about how the two can coexist and function in a symbiosis.
For the model, or say, education to succeed, we need to encourage students and their parents to learn from home and seek help whenever they need it. Online learning has the power to reduce the education gap in qualitative and quantitative terms. The technology ensures customized training modules for all students. They can learn at the pace they are comfortable with.
To put things in perspective, both offline and online cultures can go hand in hand. Tech-based education is based on decoding how to engage students and how to continue education in the absence of traditional classrooms, thereby helping students master topics on their own.
The development of a hybrid learning model will be observed across the globe. It will ensure that our students enjoy the best of both physical and digital worlds.