Online education in India- an overview
Most of us would have heard stories of our parents walking miles to go to schools and stories of few others who missed out on the opportunity to educate themselves simply because the schools were too far from where they stayed!
Moving on, distance education did help people to enroll themselves and get books delivered at their homes. Inshort humans have always tried to educate themselves and make this world a better place to live!
But then the world had an uninvited guest, the novel coronavirus! The first Covid case in India was reported in Thrissur district of Kerala in the month of January, 2020. On the eve of March 24, 2020, prime minister Narendra Modi announced a 21 day lockdown across the nation for fighting the deadly novel coronavirus. Life changed permanently. Like everything else, the education sector came to a complete halt. ‘Online education’ was the only way forward!
Discussions on online education and its feasibility were happening even before the pandemic hit the world. The education sector had already evolved aggressively with progressing technology. Online education has always had immense scope in India, but there are several challenges to be addressed as well. Internet penetration, low cost of online education, ease of doing courses and initiative by the government are the major factors responsible for the growth of online education in India. The challenges include lack of digital infrastructure, credibility and sometimes even the medium of instruction in online classes. The ‘digital divide’ prevalent in our country is a serious challenge to deal with!
The biggest advantage of online education is that you just need to have a good system with healthy internet connection. If you have the ‘learning spirit’ everything can be done at the comfort of your home. But every coin has a flip side, so going ahead let’s discuss the pros and cons of online education in our country.
We are living in a digital world. We are conveniently using our smartphones and doing online shopping at our will, trying to make our lives easier every passing day.
Online classes prove really helpful incase you want to learn a new skill or brush up your existing skills. Let’s discuss the benefits of online education here.
- As we discussed earlier, online classes are flexible. With good systems (computers, laptops, mobiles) and proper internet connection, online classes/courses can be attended from any part of the world.
- Videos, podcasts, PDFs and illustrations are used in online education making both students and teachers better equipped and efficient. The creativity involved helps in academic success, emotional and mental well being. Online classes tend to improve cognitive abilities and problem solving skills of students.
- As discussed earlier, freedom of connecting from anywhere is the biggest luxury online education can offer students. They are no longer restricted to any particular timetable. Students can now easily connect to faculty across the globe.
- Online education has immense potential, it goes beyond typical blackboard approach (traditional classrooms) and learning is made a fun process.
- Diversity in the audience is another major highlight of online education. A single classroom can have students from different parts of the world which gives them great exposure and improves their overall performance.
- Online learning is always cost effective as it does not involve any sort of additional expenditure, like in the form of accommodation and transportation.
- With the introduction of online classes, students are said to be more disciplined and punctual. Learning is optimized to ensure great results.
- Offline or traditional education would often force students to leave the comfort of their homes. They will have to shift to new places/universities in search of their desired courses. Meanwhile in online education, students have several options to choose from. The possibilities are endless.
- For example Harvard offered 68 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Classes) between 2012 to 2014. They had offered several courses including mathematics, engineering, technology and science.
- Online education is best suited for job holders and there is no age barrier as well.
Disadvantages of Online Education in India
Nothing comes without a disadvantage. Now let’s look upon the negative aspects of online education here.
- Learning can be disrupted in case the internet connection goes down. Even though it is a rarity these days, it can still happen.
- ‘Attention span’ of students has always been a matter of concern. It is always good to deploy certain activities between online classes to improve their attention span.
- There can be several distractions during online classes. For example if there is your family around you, that can prove to be a distraction. A noisy environment; even a marriage in the neighborhood can prove to be a disturbance for online classes.
- At times, online classes can really prove challenging for teachers, as they will have to get adjusted to the latest technologies and teaching methods. Regular training sessions can be really helpful to them.
- There is hardly any scope for socialization in online learning. Socialization is key in a student’s life. But when students are attending online classes there is hardly any socialization happening, rather they tend to be isolated most of the time.
- Overuse of anything can cause trouble. During online learning, students are required to use computers and other gadgets for longer periods of time. This can cause health issues including eye strain and back pain. The ‘dangers of screen time’ include obesity and depression
- Sometimes too much freedom for students can backfire. In an offline class, teachers will rather know exactly what their students require. But in online classes that need not be the case. Since the interaction is limited they might not really know the requirements of their students. Unless the students are ‘active learners’, online education may not bring about the desired results.
Education is pivotal for the development of a nation. The students are the future citizens of a country. Ultimately it should be left to them, whether to opt for online or offline courses. But one should remember that needs are mostly situation based, wise decisions will ensure a bright future for all.
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